Australia has regained the Ashes after they had lost it in the last Ashes series in England. The 2015 Ashes was dominated by the hosts by fully utilizing their home conditions.
England were 0-2 down before the WACA test and this was ‘Do or Die’ game for them. But in a rather one-sided affair, OZs once again demolished the English batting line-up to win by an innings and 41 runs and now have an unassailable lead of 3-0. And the next thing they have in their mind is cleaning up the Poms by 5-0.
Cricket Pundits would claim that they had predicted such Australian victory, but a cricket follower knows that it was a no-brainer. England walked into the Australian territory without much to offer. Their fast bowlers who rely heavily on seam and swing friendly conditions were found wanting, not able to find the right length to trouble the Aussie batting lineup. Their pace battery has looked pretty dull and low on energy. Despite being one of the top bowling duos of the century so far, Broad and Anderson have looked ineffective. Stuart Broad particularly has looked way below average, going wicketless at WACA while conceding runs with an economy of 4. They also have missed the X factor of having someone who could bowl around 90 miles per hour consistently. The loss of the likes of Mark Wood, Steven Finn and Toby Roland Jones to injuries certainly depleted some optimum options for the third seamer after Broad and Anderson in the team. Ben Stokes’ involvement in a Bar Fight incident has kept him out of the team, further degrading England’s stocks.
English Batters hasn’t had much to offer either. Cook and Root, the senior most and the ones on whom the entire batting line up looks up to have been highly disappointing. Root played well in the second innings of the Adelaide test, igniting momentarily a hope for a fourth-innings chase. But he has not been able to convert his starts into big scores. Cook has been out of form and is getting out on ordinary deliveries. Vince and Malan have been impressive so far. England would want them to continue their run-scoring spree and hope that they will inspire the other batters to perform well.
Australia, on the other hand, has been spectacular. Their bowling attack seems to be the most threatening thing about them. Starc and Cummins can touch 150 Kmph pretty regularly. Hazelwood has the strength of being consistent but he has been generating a good amount of pace as well. Nathan Lyon has been a class apart. He has made things happen out of nowhere. He has been brilliant in the field as well; turning the momentum towards Australia on the first day of the series itself, by running out James Vince with a pickup and throw on the run. David Warner would feel that he has missed out and would be hoping to get a big one under his belt. Steven Smith just keeps growing his stature as one of the modern greats. Shaun Marsh showed his grace and technique in the Day-Night encounter and was clinical in taking Australia to a good score at Adelaide. While Mitchell Marsh on his return hammered a 181 to deflate English hopes in the 1st innings of the WACA test. Everything seems to be clicking at just the right moments for Australia.
England seems to have been rattled by injuries and other things from off the field. They have not been able to add much spice to what has been a one-sided encounter so far. Surely England has missed Ben Stokes in bowling, batting as well as his sheer presence in the field. They have been let down by both poor batting and bowling. It’s time they take some serious steps. Axing someone like Alaister Cook would seem to be an extreme measure, but they must start looking for options. They have to bring some fresh bowlers who can crank it up and be in the face of the opposition. The whole team, with their actions and attitude, need to show that they mean business. England needs to bring out the aggression, the fire. Only then we can hope to see a more evenly contested game. And only such fierce battles can make Ashes live up to its mantle.
Image Credits: Internet