Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why Australia Won the Ashes

Believe it or not, before this Ashes series began I predicted Australia to win comfortably.

It seemed ridiculous to most at the time and rightfully so, but here we are with Australia up three zip and the Ashes wrapped up and back on this side of the hemisphere in the shortest time frame possible.  I will admit I didn't predict such a comprehensive walloping, England are dead and buried and the old ghosts of the 90s are back. The English media have quickly forgotten that England were #1 not long ago.

Why would anyone back the Aussies? They had lost three Ashes in a row and were in complete disarray. Instead of playing good cricket they were busy failing their homework, giving Glenn Maxwell a test cap and punching Joe Root.

So how did things flip upside down?


The Last Ashes Were Close
Australia had the better of England for huge parts of the last Ashes despite being hounded with unkind rain gods, horrid umpiring and the existence of Phil Hughes.  If you look closer Australia nearly had the first test, and rain saved England twice... it wasn't that far away from being 3-2 to Australia, yet it reads as a 3-0 thrashing. Hindsight and luck of course, but 3-0 it was.

England were Good, Never Great
Australia were never knocked off their perch by a superior side, it was a kamikaze.  With the great Indian batting engine losing their reflexes with age, it was England and South Africa who were there to pick up the pieces.  South Africa is the superior of the two, but England benefited by not having to play them much and made the #1 ranking first.

They were never bad but they never touched the same heights Australia did during their pomp.  The likes of Cook, Trott, Prior and Anderson feasted on the highs and gave their averages a royal boost. But were the chips ever really down? Were they ever severely tested by a side? They are now.

Beware the Mongrel
Yes Australia fell off their own tree and smacked every branch on the way down. And once battered and bruised, they were kicked down, taunted and humiliated by everyone who cared to do so. Amla, Cook, Dhawan, you name it, they all had their glorified hour at sinking their teeth into Aussie flesh. It was more than a decade of hurt that was being paid back, and it was ugly.

Even New Zealand embarrassed them in their own backyard, the shame.

But did they go too far? Because the sleeping mongrel as been awakened.  Lets not forget they have a large pool of players and a very proud history and tradition. Australia never takes losing kindly and there is only so much shoving one can take before the wounded animal bites back.


Oh they're back, and they're hungry for more.

Darren Lehmann
There had to be catalyst to stir the pot and get the Aussies fizzing again, and a no nonsense and bloody minded *Australian* coach was the obvious answer. Enter Boof Lehmann.  Suddenly Australia have their mojo back, the battered Aussies have resurfaced and they let the world know all about it in Brisbane.  No more rotation policies, no more homework scandals, no more Phil Hughes, just 11 fired up angry blokes playing cricket.

But England had gotten so smug and unlikeable that the impossible finally happened, I *wanted* Australia to win. Its almost like the 2005 Ashes in reverse, the underdog is just so much more fascinating. Like democracy, one of these two cannot be in power too long before it starts to get infuriating. There has to be a balance.

And balance has been restored, for now.