Sunday, 12 July 2009

2009 finds its voice

Day 5 - Close
Match Drawn

For five days Australia outplayed their opponents, yet it's England who end celebrating. On an extended day, England had to defy the Aussie bowlers and themselves in their bid to salvage a result from a pitiful performance.

It's the sort of situation that defines the English sporting psyche: backs-to-the-wall defiance, almost irrespective of outcome, is always more romantic than clinical victory. Forget 'Jerusalem', 'The Great Escape' is our national sporting anthem.

Despite affinity to the idea, escape is something England rarely manage and it took the iron will of Paul Collingwood to give them a glimpse. He batted with desire, skill and plenty of nous to carry England to Lord's unscathed and deserves all the plaudits that will come his way.

Yet beyond relief there are only doubts for England to take from this match. Ricky Ponting, on the other hand, should carry no concerns to London for the next test.

From the outset Australia capitalised on inexplicable complacency from England. Their planning and execution in England's first innings, aided by the charity of the England batsmen, made for an attack stronger on grass than paper.

England's top order has spluttered since the end of Duncan Fletcher's reign but again, it's the bowlers who will feel the selectors axe. Monty, finally a hero finishing a game for England (sadly only with the bat), should give way to Graham Onions. Andrew Flintoff, the one-time national treasure, continues to bowl too short. We can gasp as he passes the outside-edge all we like, but until he draws batsmen forward he won't get the wickets his talent warrants. England cannot afford to carry him and Stuart Broad in their attack. Though the latter should survive to Lord's, his potential needs to be matched with wickets or the case for Steve Harmison, another perennial underachiever, will become irresistible.

Australia will commiserate and England will celebrate, but both should take satisfaction that this series, so often drowned in the fanfare of 2005, has found its voice.

3 comments:

Timmy P said...

Fantastic writing Duddits, all spot on. We like to believe in 'The Great Escape'; it feels good to have achieved it for once.

Phil said...

I apologise to you profusely if you're not Kunal's brother, who could therefore outline to you just what a perfect bottom pain I can be, but I would argue 'Fletcher's rein' [sic], should in fact be Fletcher's reign, as in period of rule. Otherwise, all good stuff.
Just a shame it's not on proper telly. I'd love to see a miffed Australian complain about 'gamesmanship'. Lawks.

Sahil said...

Hi hi, ah, good call thanks. Yeah I am indeed. Apparently a good series would mean cricket would become one of the government protected protected 'crown jewel' sports events.