21.8.09

Cricket: Ashes still in balance

There are clich├ęs in cricket none more apt for good or bad as Aussies are favourites to win. It is pretty much obvious, more so against England. But you must know that the Ashes is still is still in the balance and it might take some thing heroic, from Flintoff and a few others to guide it for England while the whole Aussie team, would be striving hard to win the Ashes, Ponting, George Bush of cricket would be trying is hardest.

Why English cricket is in dismay?

I know there is lot of pride the English have over traditions, everyone should, but ideals/principles have to be worked upon and then accepted, they can’t just be dreamt, you need grit to fight it out. I mean thinking of recalling Ramprakash was a horror, why not dig WG Graces, grave and ask him to bat again, there are a few ex-cricketers, Gower, Botham, Lloyd, Willis doing commentary who know how to do it, why not ask them? I have nothing against Ian Bell, but to simply say this he is the most incomplete batsman the history of cricket has ever seen. I don’t think any Aussie bowlers, even the ones playing county cricket, would love to bowl to a batsman who precedes Bell, its bowl one out get one for free. He scored runs today, yes he was the highest scorer for them today, but that not convincing, that score of 72 would take the team anywhere. The other equally unconvincing is Collingwood batting down the order. The last position he can bat is one down. It would give immense impetus to everyone in the team. He has done his job till know, otherwise for all to know, first test at Cardiff could have easily gone to the Aussies, and the Ashes would be pocketed by now.

I don’t think Cook is in the best of form, Strauss has done well with the bat, the only centurion for Poms. But considering is last 12-15 years the best batsmen have occupied the one down or the number three slot, Dravid, Ponting, Kallis, Mohammed Yousuf, being the point in case. I don’t think Bell is in the same class. Bell at 4 or 5 down may be just slightly ever so better than Bell at one down that all the concession that he would is I may. If Bell is worthy to be in that eleven then the Aussies deserve to win the Ashes. It is my firmly believe that if anyone wants to win against Aussies, you need to field your best eleven on the basis on class, form and fitness. I will place class first.

They might not is the Tsunami called Andrew Flintoff crashes the Aussie boat. He is standing tall between Aussies and the Ashes. Cricket is a team game and all that will go one. It is right that no one individual can dictate the game, but there will always be times when an individual influences and control the moment. It’s precisely that moment which defines the person. Flintoff has done it once can do it again. Flintoff is just 31; his worthiness is much more than three thousand odd runs and two hundred odd wickets. His brute pace and variety and control almost made him unplayable even today. On current form, not many top batsmen (including Bell) would queue to bat Flintoff. He did spend a lot of time on the injury list, but I won’t be surprised if he is recalled for the next Ashes, if Ramprakash’s name can pop up then, Flintoff too deserves a rethink.

Ponting wants to win

Ponting put the English attack to sword and thwarted any moves possible which would have allowed England to come back. The Poms surrendered with in three days ands the Ashes went back in the balance, locked at 1-1. On the first day England did make 307 for 8 at the end. It is tempting to say that Aussies are firm favourites. But there are a few againsts, standing in front of Ponting and Aussies. One of them being they have never come from a game down to win the series, then there is Flintoff. All it needs is one simple batting collapse and the English take a decent lead of say 50 to 60 runs. But it won’t be still enough, Poms would need t bat well again, something they haven’t done enough.

I still feel that if Ponting wins it he would thoroughly deserves the Ashes. But history counts for nothing. Ponting knows it. Aussies lost to Poms, first time in 75 years. My sense is, Poms would cave in this time, and I am expecting a classic, Test match in the making. The pitch is very interesting and Flintoff would not want any excuse. It is building to be Flintoff Ashes because of the precedent and the presence of the man.

Men other than Flintoff.

I don’t know what Warne thinks of only pace attack. England has Swann, who spins and seems to be a good traditional off spin bowler. Off spinners have traditionally done well against Aussies. But key members from this point of time seem to be the back up bowlers. Anderson has already delivered the goods, Harmison the hero of Poms last Ashes victory seem to be just there. He has to put his hand up. Collingwood should say to everyone I want to bat the Aussies out the second innings. If there is some positive out of the series, then it has to be the fact that English tailed has wagged and wagged more at least more effectively then the top order. Broad too doesn’t look all that sharp on form. Swann holds the key.


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