The View From Down Here – 10 Thoughts on the 5th Ashes Test

 Fifth and final Ashes test for this series!

1] Australia with no Ricky Ponting. Apparently some reports are saying he’s not happy about this. Other reports are saying he’s going in for surgery as early as tomorrow. Who knows? It can’t be worse for Australia… Can it?

2] A decent start for Australia on a rain-marred Day One. 4/134. Usman Khawaja made 37 in a fine debut for Australia, although Clarke – even as acting captain – bombed again with 4.

3] Thanks to a half century from Mitchell Johnson, Australia made a respectable, yet modest 280.

4] Australia struck early, and at the end of Day Two England are at 3/167. Two days and an even test match. Thank goodness!

5] Well, that didn’t last long, did it? A century from Cook (189) and Bell (115) left England at 7/488 at the end of Day Three, already more than 200 runs ahead.

6] Despite the use of technology by the third umpire, a decision against Bell was overturned which should not have been. Yes, it’s the first mistake I’ve seen with this technology, but it was a big one in the context of the match.

7] England were eventually dismissed for 644, with Prior adding to the list of England centurions. This is England’s highest ever score against Australia on Australian soil. So while the Aussies have (apparently) improved in the batting, the bowling still apparently needs a LOT of work.

8] Several media pundits / former players think a 3-1 series loss is just the wake-up call the Australian selectors need, while also emphasising the need to show faith in the youngsters selected for the team. But the biggest issue is this: Who can possibly be a decent Australian captain?

9] Stumps on Day 4 and Australia are 7/213. Clarke got 41, Watson 38, Haddin 30, Smith not out on 24… Batting collapse again. Sigh! Another innings defeat coming up. When was the last time Australia suffered 2 innings defeats in a row? And out of the last 6 run outs in tests involving Australians, Watson’s been involved in 4. His run out here signalled the collapse. What does this mean?

10] Australia put up a sort of rear-guard action. Smith not out on 54, Siddle with a 43. But Australia still only managed 281. Another innings defeat. 2 in a row. I hope that this finally – finally! – makes the selectors and Cricket Australia take note. We relied for too long on too many older players. Now they’ve gone, the next generation has not been given the opportunities to shine or even develop. They have done the country a disservice. Now they need to do something about it.

Bonus Thought!
11] England played their arses off this series to win 3-1 (1 drawn). Apart from a few fielding lapses, they were clearly the better team. Their goal is to be number one. While I think they have a while to go before they challenge South Africa or India, the fact remains they are on target to give it a red hot go. Hats off to them (as much as that irks me); they deserved every bit of it.

Australia 1st innings: 280; England 1st innings 644; Australia 2nd innings 281
            England won by an innings and 83 runs.

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