August 4, 2009

Are you England in disguise?

The 2009 Aussies have not just been a pale shadow of their brilliant predecessors - they're so pale, they have a distinctly Pommie tinge
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Edgbaston is the English cricket ground that is most like a football ground, with many of the good and bad points that entails - lively atmosphere, plentiful home wins, blinkered fans, and (when I was there on Friday) sexist comments and prehistoric food. During this Test the England fans were singing like football supporters. At one point they came out with a twist on the football fans' favourite form of derision - "Are you [some despised team, often Tottenham] in disguise?" The Edgbaston version was "Are you Scotland in disguise?" Which was quite funny, but hardly accurate. The 2009 Aussies are closer to being England in disguise. They have not just been a pale shadow of their brilliant predecessors - they're so pale, they have a distinctly Pommie tinge. Here are eight ways in which Australia appear to be the new England.

1. They're losing…
Australia are now 0-1 down after three Tests. The role of arriving in the latter stages of an Ashes series without a win normally belongs to England. Even when Australian touring teams end up losing a series in England, they tend to get an early win under their belts: they were 1-0 up in 2005 and 1981, and 1-1 in 1985. Now they find themselves in the boat they were in in 1986-87, one down with two to play. It means England are one win from glory, and on that occasion they duly achieved it.

2. …or drawing
The Aussies have not been a drawing team for a long time. They have drawn only 17 Tests this decade out of 109. In England in three series in 1993-2001, they drew only two Tests out of 17. But they have now drawn four of their last six in England, stretching back to Old Trafford 2005.

3. They're being humiliated by the home fans
To be an Englishman fielding on the boundary in Australia has long meant copping an earful of abuse, or worse. Now England fans are dishing it out too. This can be amusing, as when the Barmy Army decided that Mitchell Johnson was such a plus for England that he should be showered in applause and awarded his own chant. Or it can be ugly, as when Ricky Ponting, one of the best batsmen of all time, was booed all the way to the crease. Let's hope it was the beer talking: the idea that this is how cricket fans now behave is too depressing to contemplate.

4. They dropped a player after two bad Tests
Phil Hughes' demotion was a shock, and not just because it leaked out on Twitter. Yes, England had worked him out, but he had failed only twice, arguably three times (making 36, 4 and 17), and the Aussie selectors had gone from showing total faith in him, by not even bothering to send along a reserve opener, to showing none. This used to be the English disease. It caused Graham Gooch to spend three years in the wilderness after his early taste of Test cricket in 1975; 18 years later, just as Gooch was bowing out as captain, it led to Mark Lathwell beginning a descent that went from young England opener to retired and disillusioned, in the space of eight years. Let's hope Hughes is closer to a Gooch than a Lathwell, though not too close for England's sake. England, ironically, have now gone a bit too far the other way, and look unlikely to give Ravi Bopara or Stuart Broad a rest, even though neither has pulled his weight.

After searching long and hard, Australia have finally found their answer to Alan Mullally, Martin Bicknell, Devon Malcolm and Robert Croft

5. They're collapsible
Australia lost the second Test not, Ponting felt, because they made a poor start with the ball, though that didn't help - they recovered well from there and kept England's total to a less-than-daunting 425. They lost because they were shot out for 215 in reply. The third Test followed a similar pattern: they were in danger of losing, despite all the rain, because they were all out for 263. Each time they started perfectly respectably, and then went down like a pack of Poms: from 103 for 2 to 152 for 8 at Lord's, and from 163 for 3 to 203 for 8 at Edgbaston.

6. They play well after first playing badly
This has been the defining trait of recent England teams, and now it has spread to Australia. They bowled well at Lord's only after bowling badly for two sessions. They batted well in the second innings of both these last two Tests, but only after crumbling in the first. England haven't entirely shaken the habit either: they flourished at Edgbaston partly because the Thursday was so truncated that their usual first-day shocker was kept to manageable proportions.

7. They've made a huge score without winning
The one time Australia batted well in the first innings, they were superb, rattling up 674 for 6 at Cardiff. But they couldn't close the deal, letting their opponents escape by the skin of their teeth - just like England in Antigua and Port-of-Spain this year. By not winning, they surrendered momentum, which allowed England to bounce back at Lord's. The same, of course, may be true in reverse now.

8. Their bowling is modest
A left-arm seamer who sprays it around, a wholehearted swinger who bowls tidy long spells, a quick with decent pace but not many wickets to show for it, and an amiable finger spinner who likes to pitch well outside off: yes, after searching long and hard, Australia have finally found their answer to Alan Mullally, Martin Bicknell, Devon Malcolm and Robert Croft.

Tim de Lisle is the editor of Intelligent Life magazine and a former editor of Wisden

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ganeshholla.v on August 5, 2009, 17:17 GMT

    NickVegas...buddy, get your facts right...I think Indians have kicked Aussies backside a whole lot of times, than Poms & Springboks put together in the last decade and a half, so be rest assured we would continue to do that in the future as well. Just in case, if you still have doubts...check these stats out...during 1995 & 2009 there have been 8 Border/Gavaskar series...26 tests in all..6 drawn..10 won by India and 10 won by Aussies. So I think, if at all somebody is enjoying the fact that Aussies have come down in terms of their cricket, I think it is Poms & Springboks and not us!!! Unlike others we have been beating Aussies ever since they had the quality of Waugh bros, Warne, Mcgrath, Martyn, Haydos, Langer...so something tells me we would continue to beat Aussies but may be not enjoy it anymore since you guys don't have the same quality but hey thats not our headache...:)

  • TRNovice on August 5, 2009, 10:41 GMT

    I think that it is also arguable that a subset of the Australian fans could be accused of being England fans in disguise. It seems that the whinging Pom has morphed into the whinging Ocker all too easily. Perhaps our cultures are not as dissimilar as they are sometimes made out to be.

    Also the argument that Australia would have been in a great position if it had not rained so much at Edgbaston is specious. No less a person than Ricky Ponting debunked it. England would not have played the way they did in their 1st innings in different circumstances, neither would have Australia in their 2nd. Anyone who argues otherwise has no understanding of the undercurrents of the game.

    Overall, in 2005 we were enthralled by two teams at the top of their game battling it out (albeit with Australia missing one of their greatest gladiators twice). 2009 is more about two lesser, but reasonably well-matched teams both struggling with their own inadequacies. Less quality, but still some drama.

  • bluntlysaid on August 5, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    Hmmm...Aussie v/s Poms relationship signified by this quote by an annonymous writer "The high standards of Australians are due to the fact that their ancestors were all handpicked by the best english judges"

  • fairdinkum on August 5, 2009, 2:49 GMT

    Well Tim, this is just part of the war of words and with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek as well. As some have pointed out, England bowling stocks are reliant on swing conditions. Now, Freddie is gone gone gone! Apart from a really good spell in one innings, he has taken 1 for, 1 for, 0 for and 0 for. Swann has taken 6 wickets. On the other hand, Johnson has been hopeless, hasn't he? but did I mention he has 10 wickets and Hauritz also 10 wickets. In fact the stats show Australia ahead in batting and bowling - you must be giggling at this (1-0 up for the Poms). No, clearly Australia's first innings in test 2 and 3 have been the problem. Just watch out as Johnson finds his timing, Siddle tightens up and the rookies find consistently. Also, I like an angry skipper, so Ricky can snarl all day just as "Grumpy" Allan Border did, as far as I'm concerned. Aus 2-1

  • ebbie-qld on August 5, 2009, 2:42 GMT

    Tim, you really are stating the obvious. I am amazed that Ponting had kept this side at the top for so long . After the retirement of 3/4's of any side in the last few years a team will struggle. Considering the Aussie team had some the greatest players and some very good ones, it is a wonder they didn't fall in a screaming heapand have results like England have for the last 20years(just having a dig). Regarding crowd behaviour. I don't take my kids to the cricket any more becasue of the abuse players on the field have to put up with from both Aussie and overseas spectators. Booze and media hyping up every supposed angry confrontation , only enflame sitautions on and off the field. Hopefully each nation's cricket board will stomp out this rot from these spectators

  • nickvegas on August 5, 2009, 0:49 GMT

    The fact that the Aussies are still ranked number 1 after losing almost and entire world champion team indicates that the rest of the cricket world are still crap as they struggle to beat a team of rookies and old men. All this chest beating is pathetic. Where was the confident boasts when Aussies were steam-rolling everyone throughout the last decade and a half? At least when the Windies were top, the Aussies stood up to them and competed. How many tests did they lose in a row to Windies? Something like 13. No doubt the Aussies are rebuilding and it will take a few more years to get back to real strength. But when they do, it will be another decade before they are challenged again so poms, indians and springboks better make the most of it right now.

  • timbuk2 on August 5, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    Interesting theory Tim but... I think England are still England and probably lucky to be 1-0 up. We were lucky to scramble a draw from the 1st test where we were behind 4 out of the 5 days. Nearly lost the second from what should have been an unassailable position. And the 3rd was really only 3 days of play. I'm not sure that we could have made up the 260+ runs that would have been set with another full days play. As for the woes of Johnston in contrast to Freddy - Johnston actually has 10/423 @ 42.3, Freddy 7 for 345 @ 48.5 so far. I'm worried what will happen if Johnston gets his confidence back.

  • deegan on August 5, 2009, 0:03 GMT

    last two comments spot on! england bowlers dominate when swinging and they have bowled at key times when it has done a lot for them. Monday showed how they look without assistance, dont get me wrong, i still think they offer more in the bowling stakes but these two teams are not far apart at all. More of the same please! Except the rain. (to everyone listening to the press re whinging etc - forms your own opinions, both sets of players are happy with how this is being played). viva la ashes.

  • Indyman on August 4, 2009, 22:26 GMT

    Tim, the comparisons to English Cricket are valid at present but fortunately and unlike England, it will be only temporary. Even AB and Mark Waugh got dropped early in their careers and it did not hurt. In this series, the swinging ball and a relatively inexperienced team have made Australia appear to be weaker than the usual Aussie teams but Australia will learn and improve, whereas England will continue to play the same way - Victories at home because of swing and knowledge of conditions and utterly hopeless on the road, where there is no swing. So looking forward to when the saffers take them on, without Flintoff!

  • Vkarthik on August 4, 2009, 22:09 GMT

    Very funny to read especially the last line cracked me up. But that is the reality. Australia keeps getting into point of no return situations and cornered situations. Australia might be new England. But i can say England is definitely not the old Australia.

  • ganeshholla.v on August 5, 2009, 17:17 GMT

    NickVegas...buddy, get your facts right...I think Indians have kicked Aussies backside a whole lot of times, than Poms & Springboks put together in the last decade and a half, so be rest assured we would continue to do that in the future as well. Just in case, if you still have doubts...check these stats out...during 1995 & 2009 there have been 8 Border/Gavaskar series...26 tests in all..6 drawn..10 won by India and 10 won by Aussies. So I think, if at all somebody is enjoying the fact that Aussies have come down in terms of their cricket, I think it is Poms & Springboks and not us!!! Unlike others we have been beating Aussies ever since they had the quality of Waugh bros, Warne, Mcgrath, Martyn, Haydos, Langer...so something tells me we would continue to beat Aussies but may be not enjoy it anymore since you guys don't have the same quality but hey thats not our headache...:)

  • TRNovice on August 5, 2009, 10:41 GMT

    I think that it is also arguable that a subset of the Australian fans could be accused of being England fans in disguise. It seems that the whinging Pom has morphed into the whinging Ocker all too easily. Perhaps our cultures are not as dissimilar as they are sometimes made out to be.

    Also the argument that Australia would have been in a great position if it had not rained so much at Edgbaston is specious. No less a person than Ricky Ponting debunked it. England would not have played the way they did in their 1st innings in different circumstances, neither would have Australia in their 2nd. Anyone who argues otherwise has no understanding of the undercurrents of the game.

    Overall, in 2005 we were enthralled by two teams at the top of their game battling it out (albeit with Australia missing one of their greatest gladiators twice). 2009 is more about two lesser, but reasonably well-matched teams both struggling with their own inadequacies. Less quality, but still some drama.

  • bluntlysaid on August 5, 2009, 10:09 GMT

    Hmmm...Aussie v/s Poms relationship signified by this quote by an annonymous writer "The high standards of Australians are due to the fact that their ancestors were all handpicked by the best english judges"

  • fairdinkum on August 5, 2009, 2:49 GMT

    Well Tim, this is just part of the war of words and with your tongue firmly planted in your cheek as well. As some have pointed out, England bowling stocks are reliant on swing conditions. Now, Freddie is gone gone gone! Apart from a really good spell in one innings, he has taken 1 for, 1 for, 0 for and 0 for. Swann has taken 6 wickets. On the other hand, Johnson has been hopeless, hasn't he? but did I mention he has 10 wickets and Hauritz also 10 wickets. In fact the stats show Australia ahead in batting and bowling - you must be giggling at this (1-0 up for the Poms). No, clearly Australia's first innings in test 2 and 3 have been the problem. Just watch out as Johnson finds his timing, Siddle tightens up and the rookies find consistently. Also, I like an angry skipper, so Ricky can snarl all day just as "Grumpy" Allan Border did, as far as I'm concerned. Aus 2-1

  • ebbie-qld on August 5, 2009, 2:42 GMT

    Tim, you really are stating the obvious. I am amazed that Ponting had kept this side at the top for so long . After the retirement of 3/4's of any side in the last few years a team will struggle. Considering the Aussie team had some the greatest players and some very good ones, it is a wonder they didn't fall in a screaming heapand have results like England have for the last 20years(just having a dig). Regarding crowd behaviour. I don't take my kids to the cricket any more becasue of the abuse players on the field have to put up with from both Aussie and overseas spectators. Booze and media hyping up every supposed angry confrontation , only enflame sitautions on and off the field. Hopefully each nation's cricket board will stomp out this rot from these spectators

  • nickvegas on August 5, 2009, 0:49 GMT

    The fact that the Aussies are still ranked number 1 after losing almost and entire world champion team indicates that the rest of the cricket world are still crap as they struggle to beat a team of rookies and old men. All this chest beating is pathetic. Where was the confident boasts when Aussies were steam-rolling everyone throughout the last decade and a half? At least when the Windies were top, the Aussies stood up to them and competed. How many tests did they lose in a row to Windies? Something like 13. No doubt the Aussies are rebuilding and it will take a few more years to get back to real strength. But when they do, it will be another decade before they are challenged again so poms, indians and springboks better make the most of it right now.

  • timbuk2 on August 5, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    Interesting theory Tim but... I think England are still England and probably lucky to be 1-0 up. We were lucky to scramble a draw from the 1st test where we were behind 4 out of the 5 days. Nearly lost the second from what should have been an unassailable position. And the 3rd was really only 3 days of play. I'm not sure that we could have made up the 260+ runs that would have been set with another full days play. As for the woes of Johnston in contrast to Freddy - Johnston actually has 10/423 @ 42.3, Freddy 7 for 345 @ 48.5 so far. I'm worried what will happen if Johnston gets his confidence back.

  • deegan on August 5, 2009, 0:03 GMT

    last two comments spot on! england bowlers dominate when swinging and they have bowled at key times when it has done a lot for them. Monday showed how they look without assistance, dont get me wrong, i still think they offer more in the bowling stakes but these two teams are not far apart at all. More of the same please! Except the rain. (to everyone listening to the press re whinging etc - forms your own opinions, both sets of players are happy with how this is being played). viva la ashes.

  • Indyman on August 4, 2009, 22:26 GMT

    Tim, the comparisons to English Cricket are valid at present but fortunately and unlike England, it will be only temporary. Even AB and Mark Waugh got dropped early in their careers and it did not hurt. In this series, the swinging ball and a relatively inexperienced team have made Australia appear to be weaker than the usual Aussie teams but Australia will learn and improve, whereas England will continue to play the same way - Victories at home because of swing and knowledge of conditions and utterly hopeless on the road, where there is no swing. So looking forward to when the saffers take them on, without Flintoff!

  • Vkarthik on August 4, 2009, 22:09 GMT

    Very funny to read especially the last line cracked me up. But that is the reality. Australia keeps getting into point of no return situations and cornered situations. Australia might be new England. But i can say England is definitely not the old Australia.

  • Nampally on August 4, 2009, 18:42 GMT

    The current Australian team has been classified as a "weak" team. However if we look at the facts, Katisch and Watson are good openers followed by Ponting, one of the top 10 batsmen in the world, Clarke who has already got 2 centuries in the series, North - an unknown guy till he got a century and a 95 in this series, Hussey, struggling a bit but a good bat, Haddin a good WK/ batsmen. Hauritz, Johnson can bat and the last 2 are good young bowlers. Admittedly the bowling has been weak due to absence of Lee and poor fiorm of Johnson. However exclusion of Clark in the line up has hurt the side. Hopefully in the last 2 tests Clark and Lee will play which will add experience & strength to their bowling. Actually this series should have been tied but England escaped innings defeat in the first test with a time draw. This team does not have Warne or Garth but is rebuilding with some good players.If Aussies win the next 2 tests, which they are capable of, critics will turn 180 degrees.

  • aditya87 on August 4, 2009, 16:02 GMT

    You're not seriously comparing Mitchell Johnson to Alan Mullaly are you?

  • jhswi1 on August 4, 2009, 15:44 GMT

    Some interesting comments. However, it must be remembered that Australia are still in a rebuilding phase after losing names such as McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist, Langer, etc, etc - arguably the greatest side in test match cricket (certainly of the modern era). Secondly, the Ashes is played on English soil only once ever 4 years - for many of the Aussie players this is their first Ashes series here; the conditions are very different, and the ball used (Duke ball) swings at different times. The Australians have struggled to adapt, just as England did in Australia in the last series (hence the 5-0 white wash). No one would argue that this series should really be tied up at 1-1, but what the last day at Edgbaston highlighted just how heavily England rely on the ball swinging. When it doesnt swing, they are a very average side.

  • Mike_C on August 4, 2009, 14:55 GMT

    Good article, these are two evenly matched teams, as both can have good days (and matches) but don't have enough quality to do so consistently. This match, England clearly were the better team until day 5, when their bowling was shown up to be inadequate when the ball wasn't swinging. Without the rain, England would have posted a much bigger first innings total - would Collingwood and Prior have got themselves out if they weren't trying to score quickly - so i don't buy the argument that England were somehow thankful for the lost time. After tea yesterday, everyone had mentally given up, with only the 2 batsmen with personal glory to play for, a good century for Clarke, but a bit of an "Ian Bell" one after the first 50...

  • andrew-schulz on August 4, 2009, 14:50 GMT

    Comments about the Australian bowling attack can only be made by those who didn't watch the South African series. Certainly drawing a long bow on most of those, Tim, and reminding me very much of the writer who couldn't tell the difference between a warne wrong-un and straight ball in 2006/07. Leave comments open on this until after the series,as you deserving the hammering you would then cop.

  • Chase_HQ on August 4, 2009, 14:20 GMT

    you're spot on with number 8 (if a tad harsh). good bowling is essential for any winning team (runs can be cobbled together in a number of ways), and after years and years of the very biggest characters in the game, bowling wise, there is an incredible emptiness in their bowling. they're good but there's absolutely no X factor with which we've come to associate the Aussies.

    Still, it's all making for an intriguing series though, isn't it?

  • ToneMalone on August 4, 2009, 13:37 GMT

    Several fine points Tim, but as a (wincing) Australian I need to point out that you have missed one fundamental difference. The English, from Gower to Atherton and beyond, have been fine, magnanimous losers and offered unqualified compliments to the better side. Australian captains in the present and near future will probably get more practice at being gracious losers, but for now the disguise is looking just a little bit thin!

  • phallett on August 4, 2009, 12:58 GMT

    For all talk about badly behaved 'fans'. I have been lucky enough to travel to most countries who play cricket. In SA, Aus and NZ, the bawdiness of the crowds are an eye opener and have been for years, so to suddenly show surprise this happened is naive. It happens in most places where drinking booze all day is widely encouraged, nay, promoted. But I have had to walk away form lots of stands in these places where the language and behaviour hasn't been what i'd consider pleasing...

    Ponting has been cast into the comedy pantomine villain, is cast well and has never been a crowd favourite since i can remember. That's all I need to say on the subject.

    I'd say Aus are the better team and have the more likely match winners and we've been fortunate to take a series lead. We're weak when the ball does nothing and our batting is not all that. If Johnson can claw back 10% of ability we're in trouble as he really is the all rounder Flintoff should have been; if he fires, we're in trouble

  • kunal83 on August 4, 2009, 12:57 GMT

    The cricket migration to Australia has come a full circle.

  • thenightwatchman on August 4, 2009, 12:49 GMT

    Popcorn, ok Aussie fan have been pretty boisterous and english fans can get a bit lairy but really it is always taken by the fans and the players in good fun and it is banter in good humour. I suggest you look at you tube of how the indian fans treated Andrew Symonds in India. No one should have to put up with that

  • SidArthur on August 4, 2009, 12:14 GMT

    It's easy to lose a little tan in England because of the lack of sun. It's a little premature to say the least to be gloating over 1-0 with two Tests to go. Poms and Aussies bowling line up is about the same, but Aussie batting is obvously far superior - eventually this will tell. Tim makes the mistake of going with the flow rather than seeing the long haul - typical of an armchair cricketer.

  • Nerk on August 4, 2009, 12:12 GMT

    very funny peice cmj! I find only one flaw with it... I don't see Australia being so bad as to loose so many series in a row as England did! As an Aussie, I dont think we have played all that well, whilst England though not in the same form as '05 have played well enough. I agree with AJSpud that Australia could well be 2-1 up, but then again had some things gone England's way we could be 3-0 down! Nevertheless, $10 on Aus to turn it all around in good old comeback fashion and once more watch English tears fall on english soil! By the way, the on field sledging was a bit choregraphed one felt. The best battle was in the commentry box, where Hayden and Boycott went at it!

  • finncam on August 4, 2009, 11:59 GMT

    I find it most remarkable that Lisle and the English fans here actually think that England is playing well! I agree that Australian team appears depressingly like England (is there a worse fate? I'd even rather they looked like Pakistan) but apart form bullish Flintoff moments, and a few good overs from Anderson, they have been as ordinary. Their batsmen have been worse - one century to Australia's six. Three dull tests relieved only by rain and a few overs grace, here and there, from mediocrity.

  • magic_torch_jamie on August 4, 2009, 11:52 GMT

    Look at the averages. Australia have a good few coming into form and a composite side would be majority Aussie. There's arguably been 2 good bowlers in total, Anderson and half each of Flintoff and Onions. I don't trust the England selectors to realise that when the ball's not swinging, the Aussies are worst against pace and bounce: Harmison's the man and the most likely to get the ones out who have been most adhesive. And we don't actually need Broad's extra batting. But I'm all for the Aussies having discovered our long-held secret of the cataclysmic batting collapse.

  • valvolux on August 4, 2009, 11:45 GMT

    The problem is the people above the team, not the team itself. Ever since big Merv has been a selector we've made some absolute shocking calls, but I hate to say it…the 3 big surprise selections in Hauritz, Hilfy and Watson have all paid off so far. Australia was unlucky in the first test, the second test had by far the worse of the conditions…and by close of play on the 5th day of the third, it was the English who were glad that a day was lost to rain. If anything, England has tried to turn into Australia…or the way their pathetic media portrays the Australians anyway. Dodgy tactics with mothballing Flintoff, claiming dropped catches, appealing for absolutely everything, time wasting etc. it really has been a pathetic display from the English. CA and their new code of conduct is hurting Australia, cause England has been given the go ahead to use any little dirty tactic they see fit and the Aussies are gagged to say anything about it.

  • Shafaet on August 4, 2009, 11:39 GMT

    Funny article, a pleasure to win but not really an accurate one. England saved the first match thriller only due to rain, otherwise they surely would've lost before the final session of the last day. third test ended prematurely but aus with 5 wicket in hand and 250 run lead could've ended up with a emphatic win. But again aus shouldnt have let eng escape in first test despite rain and terrible 1st innings followed by wayward bowling in 2nd test decided their fate which is really un-aussie

  • runnabean on August 4, 2009, 11:32 GMT

    swerner - I think you are making a lot of the rain helping England. For a start, the rain affected England's bowling on the first day (On Friday, with a dry ball, they ripped through Australia). Secondly, had time not been lost, England would probably have batted less aggresively in their first innings and therefore may have posted a much bigger lead. Finally, England wouldn't have bowled Bopara and Collingwood when they did, thus giving easy runs to Clarke and North, had the game still been alive.

  • JoeyPotatoes on August 4, 2009, 11:32 GMT

    I find it remarkable that many of the below comments suggest that Australia could have won this test match but for rain. Of course thay had a handy lead, but would this not perhaps be due to England's batting to set up a match and field placing's to force a victory. It's fairly obvious to even the most casual of cricket observers that had there been another day to play the tactics would have been unrecognisable to those on display on the last two days.

  • Sanjiyan on August 4, 2009, 11:20 GMT

    Whatever happens in the ashes the English will be brought back down to earth in South Africa. The Aussies are nowhere near what they were when they beat SA and yet the english have trouble finishing them off unless the conditions are perfect. If AUS manages to get within that zone or close to it, England wont know what hit them. So for the sake of a hrilling 5th test, I hope Aus hits their straps in the 4th!

  • alexrdavies on August 4, 2009, 9:27 GMT

    An accurate (enough), very English article that manages to poke just at much fun at us as it does at them. Thanks.

  • swerner on August 4, 2009, 9:14 GMT

    And yeah it's a bit of a pity to see Freddie starting behave like a posturing twat on the field. A great cricketer, great career, but with all that posturing when he takes a wicket ( looks almost as much of a git as Brett Lee does at wicket time!)...big posturing for a fella who averages less that 3 wickets a test ! Leave the "aren't I a star bowler antics to someone who takes a few more wickets Freddie, and let's enjoyyou for the great alround cricketer you are and contributor you've been, mot to mention a seemingly great fella, rather than leave us with memories of an arrogant twat.

    an aussie

  • swerner on August 4, 2009, 9:09 GMT

    In simple terms, the results so far just reflect that thee two teams are now close enough that if one plays to their ability , in this case England, and the other doesn't, thats the way the results will go. The other reality is that Aust almost snuck home in Cardiff, and in the 3rd test, without the lost time, the Aussies would be taking a very very handy lead with a day and a half to go. So before anyobne gets carried away over some perceived English dominance, have a closer look at things. Yes they are 1-nil up, however were outplayed in Wales, and could concievably haver been at genuine risk of losing this Test with 5 full days of play...would have been a great 4th innings chase.! Here's to 5 sunny days in Leeds for another tight contest.

  • Bogie55 on August 4, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    Hey popcorn, which cricketing nation was it that got a World Cup semi-final abandoned after throwing bottles at the players in '96? I think before you accuse a few drunken chanters of hooliganism, you'd better look a bit closer to your shining example of How Fans Ought to Behave.

    The English and Australians thrive on loud, banterous behaviour when they play against each other, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone of either loyalty who would go beyond being generally obnoxious in their worst moments.

  • AJSpud on August 4, 2009, 8:55 GMT

    England have been saved by the rain for the second time this series, Australia could well be 2-1 up if not for the rain delays. Australia's first innings was not great, however being 250 up with 5 wickets remaining Australia was in the box seat, if there were 2 days remaining Australia would have been overwhelming favourites to win the match, England can consider themselves lucky again. To give it to the current Australian team who are dominating England in everything but the win tally is a bit rich from De Lisle. England could be lucky and win the Ashes, it just needs to keep raining for them. But even though Australia have been beaten badly in some sessions, I don't think they should hang their heads.

  • NeilCameron on August 4, 2009, 8:40 GMT

    I agree with Dutchy - the Aussie selectors have somehow lost their marbles. What happened to the good old days of picking 6 batsmen, 4 bowlers and a wicketkeeper? If there's an all rounder decent enough to force his way into the side on his batting or bowling alone, more power to him. Until then, selecting the Test team is simple - pick your 6 best batsmen and your 4 best bowlers and your best wicketkeeper. Tamper with such simplicity at your peril.

  • rahulsaxena on August 4, 2009, 8:37 GMT

    Excellent article. Articulate and precise. Another proof that you can't win a game with the lip. You have to bat, bowl and field well; something which England has done exceedingly well

  • Normans_Conquest on August 4, 2009, 8:35 GMT

    Popcorn 07:16, have you ever been to the MCG or the SCG ? Have you ever been to an AFL game or to watch 'soccer' in Australia .. no, didn't think so. What a ridiculous and frankly embarrassing post. No need to say anymore, its there for everyone to see.

  • Jonnyh on August 4, 2009, 8:20 GMT

    There is so much nonesense being spoken about this Ponting booing situation. He is insufferably arrogant despite the fact his team his now rubbish. He's gives it out on the field as if he has Marshall and Garner charging in instead of pie-chucking Johnson.

    Every interview he does evertywhere he goes looking for a fight - e.g. attacking Fletcher 'He means nothing now' er, he cant mean nothing if you are talking about him Ricky.

    For me, Ponting deserves everything he gets for his behavior in Sydeny v India in 2007-08. Perhaps if he was a little less confrontational he's be recieved better by rhe fans.

    Keep on booing lads

  • Ozcricketwriter on August 4, 2009, 7:56 GMT

    Brilliant article, Tim. I think you've hit the nail on the head here. I couldn't have written this better myself. Well done. Comedy Gold.

  • BiSONN on August 4, 2009, 7:54 GMT

    Great article. Lol @ the last line. I agree, Australia hasn't seemed like the Australia we know at all. Besides the first test, it really has been a very poor effort from them. I have a feeling their gonna bounce back strong in the next Test, though. Mitch seemed like he had found some form back and the Australians survived what could have been a pretty tricky situation very easily. I think, by the end of it, Australia could definitely take out a lotta positives from this match. The next match is going to be some great cricket. Can't wait for it. I've never been so excited for a series in which my country isn't even playing. Let's hope the rain doesn't play spoilsport.

  • alexbrowne on August 4, 2009, 7:44 GMT

    Re: point 3 - "Let's hope it was the beer talking: the idea that this is how cricket fans now behave is too depressing to contemplate"

    I think that this is the way that many English cricket "fans" now seem to behave, and it is depressing. It seems like cricket picked up a lot of football fans following 2005, ones that don't properly understand the game and think that a day at the test is an excuse to get blind drunk and abuse some players (of course there are many more genuine converts to the game following 2005). In the past, the sledging has been good natured but it seems to be getting more and more sinister, and on away tours everyone seems to bring their football team flags/shirts, which isn't the point. Although I enjoy a long day of excess at the cricket, and laughing at beer snakes etc, I go first and foremost to watch and appreciate the cricket and I think that this is not the priority for these new fans, as much money as they may bring to the English game.

  • Media123 on August 4, 2009, 7:42 GMT

    Flintoff can be an excellent bowler, when fit and/or highly motivated - as now. But the Jesus posturing is just ridiculous. There are times when such an over the top reaction is justified... no-one would ever mistake Swann's arrival at the crease as the second coming, but he was entitled to celebrate the surprise of dismissal of Ponting with some unholy histrionics. With Flintoff, on the other hand, it's all posturing and big-noting. He does it with tail-enders, out of form middle order batsmen, & ordinary balls. If he saved it for right time and place - as when first displayed in 2005, it would be wonderful and stirring. Presently, however, when he outstretches his arms it just look like he's trying to measure the expanding circumference of his ego and pile of IPL cheques. Put it away Freddy. Try hugging your team-mates instead, and share the joy with the ones who take the catches & make up for your growing limitations in the field.

  • Sir_Francis on August 4, 2009, 7:41 GMT

    Didn't Mullally debut with WA? So he's technically an australian already. Sorta like Pattinson.

  • vinjoy on August 4, 2009, 7:40 GMT

    Excellent mapping. The only point to see is the fate of Ricky Ponting as Australian captain if he loses Ashes :)

  • Rooboy on August 4, 2009, 7:26 GMT

    There are limitations to the similarities between the teams. Australia are not picking a specialist fielder and having him spend most of the game on the field, nor do they send their bowlers off for a rest after each spell. Also, Australia have been competitive and shown fight throughout most of the series, which is a far cry from england's pathetically inept performances from 1989-2003, performances which were completely devoid of any hint of competitiveness or fighting spirit. And if Australia's bowling is modest, with 4 of the 5 leading wicket takers so far in the series, what does that say about england's attack?! I guess poms don't get too many opportunities to gloat so enjoy it while it lasts.

  • popcorn on August 4, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    English fans are well-known to be soccer hooligans,so it is no surprise that this disgusting behaviour has spead to their cricket spectators. The chap who moved the Power Centre of Cricket from Lord's to Dubai was definitely a visionary;for the behaviour of the English cricket holigans at the Lord's Test was most unlike Dukes,Duchesses,Kings,Queens,Princes and Princesses - the quiet applause,the respect for the opposition. It could be that the Englisghmen are still licking their wounds after Ricky Ponting humiliated them 5 nil in the ashes 2006 -07. I suggest that before the start of the 4 th and 5 th Tests,English cricket hooligans should be played a Video of the Test match at Chennai,India, where the cricket lovers applauded the Pakistan Team when they played traditional rivals,India.

  • moronosaurus on August 4, 2009, 7:15 GMT

    You're missing the point, convertorwotsit - the West Indies and Pakistan don't have reputations worth insulting! Well, not to the same extent.

    Hope all this criticism won't make the Aussies start sledging again - it's nice to see them playing like gentlemen.

    Lovely article. Could have another commenting on how the Windies are Zimbabwe in disguise - but that would be too true to be funny.

  • rahulnc on August 4, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Ho ho ho .. De Lisle is killing them both -- the past English teams and the current Australian one! Very funny and quite apt too ..

  • CustomKid on August 4, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    Classic article and as an Aussie I agree to some extent. Mind you I'd take Johnson, Siddle, and Hilf over Englands quicks any day of the week. With the exception of onion who has had a great start to his career he'll will get found out when he starts bowling on decks that give him nothing, the rest are pie throwers at best. Anderson 47 tests averaging 33, Broad 20 tests averaging 40, Flintoff 60 odd tests averaging 32. They prosper when the clouds have set in and swing is on offer the rest of the time I'd fancy batting against them. Yesterday was the perfect example. With the exception of Hussey who so out of form its sad there weren't many plays and misses - 3 wickets for a whole day's cricket when they're in the box seat with one hand on the ashes was a pathetic return inspired by the likes of Mullally, Bicknell, Malcolm, McCague and co. England had one good session at lords where Australia gave 6 out 10 wickets to pull shots and cost them the game. This article applies to both teams

  • dutchy on August 4, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    Excellent article. There's another thing - Australia have become obsessed with having an all rounder in the team.

  • dmudge on August 4, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    The whole article can be summarised in one word: inconsistency. Neither the aussies nor the english are good enough (consistent enough) teams to dominate the other for a full test.

  • acg_DPC on August 4, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    Good article. But the biggest irony - Australian batsman have scored 6 centuries in this series so far while England have managed just 1 by their captain's 161 at Lord's

  • Kunal-Talgeri on August 4, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    "Yes, after searching long and hard, Australia have finally found their answer to Alan Mullally, Martin Bicknell, Devon Malcolm and Robert Croft." LOL ... de Lisle is really rubbing it in. :-)

    Though England have shown more flashes of brilliance in their sessions this summer, it's hard for a neutral observer like me to find a pattern in Australia's poor run. (In all my teenage years and beyond, I saw England getting walloped.) Even when India has had the better measure of Australia recently, it's hard to see a pattern. The Aussie legacy is too overpowering! But this is not to take away from a delightful read. This piece is truly hilarious, and I hope England have more reasons to drum up this kind of hysteria. :-)

  • convertorboy on August 4, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    Wonderful article, but these can be used to describe the West Indies and Pakistan just as easily.

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  • convertorboy on August 4, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    Wonderful article, but these can be used to describe the West Indies and Pakistan just as easily.

  • Kunal-Talgeri on August 4, 2009, 5:26 GMT

    "Yes, after searching long and hard, Australia have finally found their answer to Alan Mullally, Martin Bicknell, Devon Malcolm and Robert Croft." LOL ... de Lisle is really rubbing it in. :-)

    Though England have shown more flashes of brilliance in their sessions this summer, it's hard for a neutral observer like me to find a pattern in Australia's poor run. (In all my teenage years and beyond, I saw England getting walloped.) Even when India has had the better measure of Australia recently, it's hard to see a pattern. The Aussie legacy is too overpowering! But this is not to take away from a delightful read. This piece is truly hilarious, and I hope England have more reasons to drum up this kind of hysteria. :-)

  • acg_DPC on August 4, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    Good article. But the biggest irony - Australian batsman have scored 6 centuries in this series so far while England have managed just 1 by their captain's 161 at Lord's

  • dmudge on August 4, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    The whole article can be summarised in one word: inconsistency. Neither the aussies nor the english are good enough (consistent enough) teams to dominate the other for a full test.

  • dutchy on August 4, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    Excellent article. There's another thing - Australia have become obsessed with having an all rounder in the team.

  • CustomKid on August 4, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    Classic article and as an Aussie I agree to some extent. Mind you I'd take Johnson, Siddle, and Hilf over Englands quicks any day of the week. With the exception of onion who has had a great start to his career he'll will get found out when he starts bowling on decks that give him nothing, the rest are pie throwers at best. Anderson 47 tests averaging 33, Broad 20 tests averaging 40, Flintoff 60 odd tests averaging 32. They prosper when the clouds have set in and swing is on offer the rest of the time I'd fancy batting against them. Yesterday was the perfect example. With the exception of Hussey who so out of form its sad there weren't many plays and misses - 3 wickets for a whole day's cricket when they're in the box seat with one hand on the ashes was a pathetic return inspired by the likes of Mullally, Bicknell, Malcolm, McCague and co. England had one good session at lords where Australia gave 6 out 10 wickets to pull shots and cost them the game. This article applies to both teams

  • rahulnc on August 4, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Ho ho ho .. De Lisle is killing them both -- the past English teams and the current Australian one! Very funny and quite apt too ..

  • moronosaurus on August 4, 2009, 7:15 GMT

    You're missing the point, convertorwotsit - the West Indies and Pakistan don't have reputations worth insulting! Well, not to the same extent.

    Hope all this criticism won't make the Aussies start sledging again - it's nice to see them playing like gentlemen.

    Lovely article. Could have another commenting on how the Windies are Zimbabwe in disguise - but that would be too true to be funny.

  • popcorn on August 4, 2009, 7:16 GMT

    English fans are well-known to be soccer hooligans,so it is no surprise that this disgusting behaviour has spead to their cricket spectators. The chap who moved the Power Centre of Cricket from Lord's to Dubai was definitely a visionary;for the behaviour of the English cricket holigans at the Lord's Test was most unlike Dukes,Duchesses,Kings,Queens,Princes and Princesses - the quiet applause,the respect for the opposition. It could be that the Englisghmen are still licking their wounds after Ricky Ponting humiliated them 5 nil in the ashes 2006 -07. I suggest that before the start of the 4 th and 5 th Tests,English cricket hooligans should be played a Video of the Test match at Chennai,India, where the cricket lovers applauded the Pakistan Team when they played traditional rivals,India.

  • Rooboy on August 4, 2009, 7:26 GMT

    There are limitations to the similarities between the teams. Australia are not picking a specialist fielder and having him spend most of the game on the field, nor do they send their bowlers off for a rest after each spell. Also, Australia have been competitive and shown fight throughout most of the series, which is a far cry from england's pathetically inept performances from 1989-2003, performances which were completely devoid of any hint of competitiveness or fighting spirit. And if Australia's bowling is modest, with 4 of the 5 leading wicket takers so far in the series, what does that say about england's attack?! I guess poms don't get too many opportunities to gloat so enjoy it while it lasts.