January 5, 2014

The Ashes 2013-14

The image of the Ashes

What image best summed Australia's Ashes dominance. Malcolm Knox, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, picks out the off bail of Ben Stokes lying on the ground in the first in Sydney.

For me, the story is told by the stumps left behind by Ben Stokes after his sterling 47 at the SCG. Stokes has raised his bat to the 101st ball he faced, bowled by Peter Siddle. The off bail has been excised, as if by keyhole surgery. The wicket is otherwise barely disturbed: a still life of joy and misery.

In the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain says Alastair Cook will need to decide if he still has the energy and enthusiasm to captain England. If so, he says Cook will need to show more presence on the field, and pick up ideas from other captains.

Part of the problem Cook has is that, before he became captain, he played much of his Test career under one captain - Strauss. I was lucky enough to have played under Keith Fletcher, Graham Gooch, Alec Stewart and Mike Atherton before I captained England, and I learned something from each of them. Fletcher was full of tactical wisdom, Gooch led from the front, Stewart had this attention to detail, and Atherton never placed his personal ambitions ahead of the team.

Cook doesn't have that wealth of variety to fall back on. He just needs to talk to someone outside his usual group of trusted advisors, a different kind of voice. Why not drop someone like Mike Brearley a line and ask him what he's picked up while watching the series at home?

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