Friday, June 24, 2005

It had to happen


Well, here we go. Depressingly, we're back to business as usual.

After being humilliated for approximately 10 days, Australia's cricketers have recovered and finally beaten England in a one-day match.

We had lost the match from the moment Trescothick said "we'll field". It was a stupid decision. As soon as I heard we'd won the toss, I punched the air. A second later, my shoulders drooped as I heard we'd put Australia in.

We didn't perform all that badly; our bowling was adequate - Tremlett recovering well after being battered in his first two overs, and Gough, Giles and Flintoff all producing economical spells. If we missed out anywhere, it was our failure to break partnerships. It seems the key to reducing the Aussies to tears is a burst of quick wickets, of the sort Harmison managed at Bristol.

And we did salvage some pride - we weren't bowled out. An unbeaten last-wicket stand of 50 between Gough and Harmison put some smiles back on English faces. Considering we were 6-3 at one point, finishing on 209-9 isn't all that bad an achievement. However, apparently it's not enough to secure a bonus point (anyone know how these things are allocated?).

The real problem is that Australia's bowling is back on form. Tresco and Strauss seem to have no idea how to cope with the fast inswinging yorker from Lee and McGrath, and that's going to be a real concern in the Test series. In fact, that could be the one thing that will definitely lose us the Ashes, because if we can't get a decent opening stand we haven't got a hope.

This is all beginning to look like 1997 all over again, when we beat Australia in the one-day series then won the First Test. The chants of "Ashes coming home" soon fell silent, as they won three of the next four matches. We're in for the same treatment again this year - the difference is that we have a better team, and will probably put up a better fight than we did back then. But put your money on Australia (if you can get any decent odds - it's probably too late for that already), because this Ashes series has been decided before it's begun.


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