For the first time since the retirement of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer at the end of the 2006/07 series, Australia have won the Ashes.
Under the leadership of Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke, this side has thrived on home soil to take an unassailable 3-0 lead going into the Boxing Day test at the MCG. We’ve seen Dave Warner transform himself from an inconsistent blaster into a formidable test opener. Former ICC World Player of the Year Mitchell Johnson has also hit his straps and re-found the form that made him the first quick to win the award.
But the glorious times of 2006/07 could not have seemed longer ago when Australia traveled to England for the first Ashes series earlier on in the year. The drama that surrounded the side was well documented; David Warner getting into trouble which lead to Micky Arthur’s shock sacking and Darren Lehmann’s appointment as coach, a mere 14 days before the first test.
Due to the limited preparation time, the visiting side were given no hope for the Trent Bridge test. England won the toss and elected to bat, posting a modest total of 215. After a collapse, a record 10th wicket partnership between debutant Ashton Agar and Phil Hughes helped Australia to 280. Ian Bell’s 109 propelled England to 375 in their second innings before Australia replied with 296, falling just 14 runs short of winning the test.
Every Australian with even the faintest interest in cricket knows the controversy that occurred in the first test. Stuart Broad refused to walk despite smashing it to Michael Clarke at slip.
If Broad did walk, there would’ve been no doubt that Australia would go on to win that test match and thus it would change the whole direction of the series. Luck is a bigger player in test cricket than it is in almost any other sport.
While the second test at Lords was a rightful English win, the next test at Old Trafford was rained out and England retained the Ashes. A typical summer in the homeland. Once again though, another questionable decision regarding Usman Khawaja and the DRS caused uproar in Australia.
England won the fourth test while the final test at the Oval was drawn. What was significant about all of the matches that England won? They won the toss in all of them.
The toss of the coin can be so decisive in the game of cricket that the whole game can be determined because of it. It can’t be helped though, there is no fairer way to decide which team gets the choice of whether to bat or field.
Australia won the toss at the Brisbane test and ultimately won by 381 runs. They elected to bat on a pitch that was very favourable towards batting. The second test threw up a drop-in pitch, which was a new addition to the Adelaide Oval after redevelopment. Once again the Australians won the toss and batting was their first choice. 218 runs would be the margin between the home side and the tourists.
England have not won a test at the WACA since 1978, and their task was not made any easier when they lost the toss and Australia elected to bat. The WACA pitch is synonymous with cracking due to Perth’s heat at this time of the year, as well as being fast and bouncy, which favour Australia’s quicks.
It is also a batsman’s paradise and the decision to stand at the crease first after the Australian’s won the toss, was logical. There is probably no other ground in the country where the test outcome comes down as much largely due to the condition of the pitch. When the visitors eventually got into bat, the pitch was starting to dry and crack, turning the game the bowlers way.
While this series the Australian’s have clearly been the superior team, they have also had their fair share of luck. This is much the same with the English side only a few months ago.
But finally, we’ve won back what is rightfully ours. The turnaround since mid-year is remarkable and all credit must go to Lehmann and the team. Along with hard work comes luck. Much unlike last time Australia were successful against the old enemy, this squad is young, and should they all be switched on mentally and physically, they look capable of almost anything.
Bring on the World Cup on home soil in 2015.