Oh, did we win the Ashes

Steve Harmison's first ball in 2006 Ashes goes straight to second slip

I almost forgot.

It’s been a bit remiss of me, what’s it been a week now after the Aussies were yet again crushed in their own backyard by an innings.

At the beginning of this series I didn’t know how it would go, though figured it wouldn’t be as bad as the last time, Aussies aren’t in the same league now as then, so a close series and maybe England coming out on top if they play right. But could they play right?

Well looks like they did, for the most part, what three innings defeats, four 500 plus scores, two 600 plus scores, run saving and wicket taking fielding and more importantly being able to take 20 wickets in a match.

That’s the one area I wondered about, taking the wickets when they base everything on Anderson being the main strike bowler. Now I said on Twitter that his first ball wouldn’t be as rank as Harmison’s in ’06 (video on right) but chances are it would be a wide, long hop his stock delivery. Anderson hasn’t perform when things are expected from him in the past, a great tendency to bottle it and disappear into short looping bouncers to be creamed around and with the kookaburra ball not being a massive swinger, especially after a few overs, what chance he’d do owt?

Well there was still plenty of crap bowled by him, that test in Perth when they had the Aussies on the ropes, and he got a few wickets in other games with bad balls that were just badly played but 24 wickets at 26.04 (in 5 games) can’t really be argued with. He finally stood up and didn’t just rely on the conditions to get his wickets, getting movement off the wicket not just in the air.

But as well as he did I thought two others were better really, Tremlett ( 17 @ 23.35, in 3) and Bresnan (11 @ 19.54, in 2). The former coming in when Broad was injured was a great piece of fortune in the end. Broad had been economical but wasn’t getting anyone out but you wondered if Tremlett had it in him. Before he’d looked to be full of promise but light on presence and belief, now with his county switch that seems to be there. He was extremely unfortunate and could have walked away with many more victims. The impressive thing highlighted in the final over of the series as he was getting the 70 over plus old kookaburra ball to seem, which some struggle to do far earlier than just before it’s being replaced by the new ball. If he keeps it up it’ll be difficult for Finn and Broad to walk straight back in.

And as for Bresnan, well every England team needs a Yorkie in it and while Bres won’t go down in the annuls as the greatest Yorkie to play test cricket he played his part. Especially in getting Hussy out a couple of teams in his two appearances. He’s delivering closer to the stumps now and it’s made a huge difference. Many thought he wasn’t a test player before, now I may have thought he might not be an opening bowler but he’ll be tough to remove as an all-rounder now. Personally I had him replacing Collingwood for the fourth test anyway, with Shahzad coming in for Finn.

Yup for one I won’t be unhappy to see the back of Collingwood in test cricket. Yes, they say catches win matches but I’d say Trott’s run out of Katich did more and they also say a test average over 40 marks you out. But that was back in the day, a scrape over 40 doesn’t mean what it used to and a whole 17 wickets at nearly 60 means you can’t class him as an all-rounder of any stature. He was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time, MBE for 10 wasn’t it, and made sure he cosied up to various captains which kept his place when others would have been rightly dropped. I also will in no way miss that Sheareresque monotone drone in post play interviews, with all his added Australianisms “yeah, look” and “taking positives from this”.

Also Bell, came in for a lot of praise, playing the best cricket of his life, yet same old story. Only twice did he top score and the second was in the Perth defeat when the side really needed him and he bottled it, only getting a ton in the final game when yet again someone higher up the order had got there already. OK, might have been different if he had been moved up above Collingwood in the order, as should have happened, but would you still risk your life on him getting runs?

And Pietersen was right this would never have happened if he hadn’t spit the dummy and got himself and Peter Moores binned.

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