This, that and the other. Mostly the other
England is definitely not responsible for winning the Ashes in Australia, and may in fact not actually have won them at all. That is the first and most remarkable of a number of findings in a new Ashes port-mortem published today by Cricket Australia under the title "Did We Miss Something?"
Containing depositions from journalists across the globe, as well as CA executives, Australian fan bodies and readers of ESPNcricinfo, the explosive findings will be a further blow to Andy Flower and his struggling England team. The ECB have yet to comment, though their failure to issue a vote of confidence in their coach will only add to the dark mood of an already despondent dressing room.
The 10 key conclusions contained in the executive summary are:
The series of five Test matches played between Australia and a team claiming to represent England, was a tightly fought contest between two evenly matched sides, though "England's" seam bowlers would have struggled to use the Kookaburra ball and are hopelessly out of their depth in Australian conditions as evidenced by Stuart Broad's pathetic average of 80.
The limitless depth of top-class bowling options in Australia put the selectors under unprecedented pressure and the decision to choose injured, novice and out-of-shape players was entirely justified as it resulted in more guys getting a good suck of the pineapple.
The selectors were vindicated in their decision to rest Mitchell Johnson in Adelaide by his typically Australian spell of brilliant swing bowling in Perth. The report, in a rare foray into recommendations, urges Johnson be rested on alternate days of future Test matches.
It is anachronistic for the Ashes to be contested over a Test series. Australians quite rightly don't like international five-day cricket and henceforth the Ashes will only be up for grabs in seven-match ODI series. Twenty20 was considered as an alternative but rejected for now. The change will be introduced with immediate effect.
Australia's preparation, overseen by their head coach Tim Nielsen, was exemplary. "England's" selection of a quartet of South Africans couldn't have been envisaged and stymied his eminently workable plans for dismissing Hutton, Hammond, Compton and Knott, which would have made the difference if the "English" hadn't cheated. In an echo of Bill Woodfull during the Bodyline series (when the English cheated again, incidentally) Nielsen complained to the commission that "there were as many as three teams playing cricket out there".
CA will call upon the ICC to investigate Alastair Cook's status as a "human". The harsh, forbidding antipodean sun can only be endured by fair-dinkum Aussies. Cook's failure to sweat at any stage of his batting marathons indicates further evidence of English knavish tricks. If he is proved to be a laboratory-engineered android, as expected, CA will call for all "England's" wins to be declared null and void.
The commission praised Cricket Australia executives for their groundbreaking work with sponsors and tireless attendance at corporate functions, as well as innovative approaches to pre-series publicity. Once more CA is teaching lessons to the world's governing bodies. The ECB, by contrast, couldn't organise a flashmob at half an hour's notice.
It's probable that the only Australians truly to blame for losing the series all attended the same breakfast on Boxing Day. Consideration is being given to classing Clarke and Hughes as official Cricket Australia Scapegoats, but not before a separate commission will report on the appalling behaviour of serial wrongdoer Shane Warne for refusing all entreaties to come out of retirement.
"England's" players were found to have indulged in a particularly pernicious and un-Australian practice of exchanging words with their Aussie counterparts on the field of play. This new blight on the game, or sledging as it's known in England, is unacceptable and an official complaint will be lodged with the ICC immediately.
One thing that all respondents agreed on was that England's quality of batting, bowling, preparation and planning could not possibly have had any bearing on the freak result, and in a lengthy deposition from readers of ESPNcricinfo, it emerged that an innings of 154 not out by Sachin Tendulkar in Sydney in 2008 was single-handedly responsible for Australia losing three matches at home by an innings in the same series for the first time. That being the case, Cricket Australia, its executive committee, captain and selectors have been exonerated of all blame for the 1-3 loss.
The ECB, whilst refusing to comment on the document's findings, this morning announced the appointment of a new Flashmob Consultant, who will join the squad with immediate effect.
Daniel Norcross is a founder of and commentator on Test Match Sofa, the alternative cricket commentary. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)
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