It seems it was only a short time ago that England were celebrating regaining The Ashes after a close series here in Blighty. The next year saw England get progressively better to the point where we are now which, for many an England fan, is a strange place. It is place where the historical roles are reversed; England being the team in the ascendency against a troubled Australian side. While I appreciate that there are still 3 tests to go one can hardly argue against the point that Australia have more things to think about than England.
The first test in Brisbane, while a draw, showed that England were a different team to the one that saw themselves whitewashed 5-0 the last time they were in Australia for an Ashes tour. Despite being bowled out rather cheaply in the first innings England showed the grit and determination that has been ever-present recently to bat through several sessions and amass over 500 runs for the loss of a solitary wicket. The number of records that fell during those sessions are well documented elsewhere but the key thing to emerge from that match was the innings of 235 from Alastair Cook, supposedly England’s weak link at the top of the order.
The way that match ended definitely set the tone for the next match in Adelaide. On what was a batter’s wicket, England dominated Australia both with the ball and the bat. I still can’t quite believe what I saw when I watched the first half hour of play on day 1. The run-out of Katich, the first ball duck of Ponting and then the wicket of Clarke all before drinks was simply astonishing. It was reminiscent of England of old and then to see England do to Australia what they have historically done to us was something odd to watch.
Australia have a lot of thinking to do before next week’s match in Perth. They have to replace Katich as he is now out with injury but I also feel that Xavier Doherty is a problem. He was brought in to counter Pieterson who has had issues with left-handed spinners. While Doherty did eventually get him out in Adelaide Pieterson had already amassed 227 runs. He has, in my opinion, done very little to trouble England’s batsman whereas Swann claimed a 5 wicket haul. Swann did have a torrid time in Brisbane but he showed in Adelaide why he’s become such a key figure in England’s bowling attack. Ponting was quite honest in his assessment of Australia’s performance saying “We were out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded.”
England do have their own selection issue in picking someone to replace the injured Stuart Broad. But in Chris Tremlett, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan we have decent depth. My main concern is actually complacency though I have confidence in Strauss to keep the team on the ground. I’m really looking forward now to the next test to see how both teams respond to the match in Adelaide. Justin Langer summed things up quite nicely in his BBC column “Australia know they are in a fight with 11 very good players rather than the one or two so-called superstars of the past.”