Ashes 2021: Playing into the Aussie’s Hands

As a cricket fan who grew up in the 90’s in Australia you would think I had it made. Think again. As my late grandmother would tell me every Sunday morning over breakfast as she handed me my cup of Yorkshire Tea (in a cup that usually had a printed Yorkshire Dales scenery on it) that I was a Yorkshire lad. So no growing up an English cricket fan in Australia during the 90’s was not fun at all.

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

I was born in 1985 and England won the series that year at home and then the following Aussie summer in 1986/87. That was it, I would not see a series victory for my mother country until I was the ripe old age of 20. From 1989 to 2002 the Aussies won 8 straight test series, winning a total of 28 test matches to England’s 7 even the 8 draws did better.

The Aussies had a unreal Golden Generation. Warne, The Waugh Brothers, Taylor, Hayden, Ponting, Langer, McGrath, Lee, Gillespie and Gilchrist. What a formidable team to play against. Undoubtedly they were world class players but were not unbeatable. The Aussies during that stretch of Ashes wins lost a total of 26 test matches to other nations during that time. So it was evident that with the right selection, luck and a winning mentality that you could upstage them.

The King Shane Warne celebrating an Ashes Victory in England in 1997 – Photo by Clive Mason/Allsport/Getty Images

England played a gentleman’s game where they were too scared to push the boundaries of sportsmanship. They were more focused on having a “bloody cracking game of cricket men, we almost won a session this test match”, “Let’s have pint and some cucumber sandwiches”

The series a 2002/2003 in Australia I saw glimpses of hope, they had lost 4-0 the previous home summer of 2001 and something had to be done. So that hot Aussie summer I saw some solid starts in our batting but once again Warne and Co, ripped through and the usual collapse would occur. We go from 3-268 to be all out for 300. But still ever the optimistic held belief that we could change it around. That series ended 4-1 to Australia, but we stole the fifth and final test with Michael Vaughn scoring 183 in the massive second innings total of 452. He also won Player of the Series and scored the most runs in the series with 633 across the five tests.

Kevin Pietersen scoring a ton in 2005 – Supplied by Getty Images

2005 was the year everything changed. It has been widely publicised that we just picked the best talent that was on offer rather than going for old household names. They took an aggressive mentality into the series. It took the Aussies by surprise and in my opinion this series will go down as the greatest test series of our lifetime. It was a series that could have swung either way. We took it 2-1, but The King of Spin, The Sheikh of Tweak Shane Warne almost single handed won the series. He took 40 wickets but it was the trio of Kevin Pietersen, Marcus Trescothick and Freddy Flintoff that each scored over 400 runs throughout the series. So 2005 heralded a new dawn for the Ashes Series.

Photo from http://www.skysports.co.uk

Since that series win in 2005, We have claimed 5 series win to the Aussies 3 and 1 drawn series. But the last two series on Australian soil have seen the Aussies with a 9-0 aggregate. It seems we have fell back into old habits.

Recently the ECB ( England Cricket Board) have released the squad that will travel to Australia this year. They have selected a rather dubious squad, opting to not taking a leg spinner which we all know is the way to play on Australian pitches. The ECB have opted for the shorter Dom Bess over Leggie Matt Parkinson. To bowl finger spin on Aussie soil you need to be tall aka Anil Kumble where you can use the bounce and over spin to cause batsmen issues. Even though he is still taking wickets at 39 years old Jimmy Anderson will be the taking the new ball along with Stuart Broad and it will be the two of them tasked with taking the entire 100 wickets on offer. Joe Root will expected to lead the side’s scoring and will hope Buttler, Bairstow, or Zak Crawley to help him out.

Even though the Aussies have relied heavily on Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne with the bulk of the runs they just have a habit of pulling out the goods when on home soil. That been said if Broad and Anderson can make early in roads on a unstable top order we could be in for a rather wicket intense series where poor batting will be punished.

I will always want and hope for an English win, but I am not too encouraged with us missing out on Joffrey Archer and Ben Stokes. But as underdogs we can pull the rabbit out and apply more misery on what used to be such a one sided rivalry.

As always the Australian public and media will all pretend that that for 3 months that they love cricket and the usual Pommy sledging will take place, a typical event in this country when for the most part of the country will seem so disinterested in an activity and then all of a sudden they fight to be the Chief Editor of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

But for a year that was destroyed with Covid lockdowns, I will put up with the whiny Aussies just to be able to enjoy THE ASHES.

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