While I was always confident we’d be retrieving The Ashes from foreign interests by the end of this series there’s no way I expected to be sitting down two days out from Boxing Day comnteplating a five-nil whitewash.
The Inquisitive Reader may have been wondering at the lengthy silence following the win at The Gabba, something that stemmed from the fact that Hugheay wasn’t in the country. We were still part way through the English half of the two part series when I heard about a run of four Elvis Costello Spinning Songbook concerts in Japan, which looked like a reasonable excuse to head across to ride around on bullet trains for a bit.
The Interested Reader will find the details of those shows over on The LHoC Music blog or the LHoC web site, but in between concerts and shinkansen excursions I was actually following the scores. Things would have been better if the Cricket Australia app on the iPad wasn’t geoblocked, but you can’t have everything.
And even with the prospect of a whitewash there’s no room for complacency because from what I’ve read it looks like we’re still only operating around 95%.
The important thing to remember before we get down to gloating is that this is a side that has been assembled to complete a task, and we’re well on the way to doing that, there are a couple of issues that will need to be dealt with on the way to reclaiming that #1 Test ranking, which is what we’re after.
Look at the current side and we’ve got Rogers, Haddin and the pace bowling trio that's the heart of what may well be the best attack going around at the moment (Australia's attack 'best in the world' - McDermott) all needing to replaced in the medium term and we also need to build up the spin bowling department for future tours to spin-friendly environments on the subcontinent.
We’ve also got the prospect of a three Test Series in South Africa in the New Year, and we’ll need to be firing on all cylinders if we’re going to win that one. We’re still ranked #5 on 101 with South Africa well ahead of the pack on 131 (India 119, England 116, Pakistan 102). They’ve got de Villiers, Amla and Smith at 1, 2 and 9 in the batting rankings (Clarke 5) and Philander and Steyn at 1 and 2 in the bowling (Harris and Siddle 5 and 6).
And whole it’s rather pleasant to watch the wheels start to fall off the much vaunted England line up one notes suggestions of burnout as a significant factor. They’ve kept a fairly tight core of players together through a lot of cricket and the strain is going to show eventually.