November 23, 2017

England retain Ashes as Aussie media feasts on Ponting Pie

Sing it Ricky - Put a smile on your face, don't bring everyone down like this, don't worry it will soon pass whatever it is, don't worry, be happy.

England have retained the Ashes with a resounding innings and 157 run victory inside four days at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

After the revival of Australian hopes in Perth the baggie greens were back to their Adelaide best in Melbourne with the Test being decided in the first hour on the first day.

With the chance of winning back the Ashes gone the Australian cricketing media have turned their attention to their other favourite topic – Ricky Ponting.

Ricky did not have a good Test Match. Well Ricky did not have a good Test series either. In fact the whole year has been rather stink for Ricky and it is not looking like 2011 is going to be a vintage year either.

The icing on the cake for Ricky was losing 40 percent of is match fee for arguing with umpire Aleem Dar over a referral that did not go Australia’s way.

Now the media and most commentators seem to be calling for Ricky’s head. The best he can hope for is to keep his place but lose the captaincy.

Well I am happy to go into bat for Ricky. He would walk into most Test sides in the world and is one of the great players of the modern era. Yet it seems that it is Ricky’s fault that the top order for Australia did not score runs. Yes Ricky’s fault that so many catches were dropped and the bowlers often bowled the wrong line and length.

We can’t simply say that the England team played better cricket and deserved their victory? No it seems it has to be someones fault. Ricky Ponting is the obvious target. But who is going to replace him? The depth is not there in Australian cricket at the moment.

Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin and Ricky Ponting are all in the twilight of their careers. So who should be captain if not Ponting? Michael Clarke? He has not been the same cricketer without Lara Bingle.

Hopefully the Australian selectors will not wield the axe too far just yet. The senior players deserve one last crack at the English in Sydney. Maybe not based on their form in this series, but on their service to Australian cricket over many seasons and being part of the most successful side in world cricket in the last 15 years.

I think Nathan Hauritz should find his way into the side, and throw in a young quick bowler for the injured Ryan Harris, but apart from that it should be largely the same side.

England have played very well as a unit and exceeded what I thought they were capable of in Australian conditions. It has been tremendous to see different players stepping up at different times to produce a match winning performance.

A lot of credit has to go to Andy Flower and the off-field team who have selected a strong side, given them an intelligent game plan and got their heads in the right place to execute it.

Australia on the other hand just seemed to be waiting for an individual to turn a match their way like Mitchell Johnson did in Perth. They played like they were not united in purpose, were unsure what the plan was, and like the pressure from the home media was a weight around their neck.

The blame for this state of mind does not rest solely with Ricky Ponting. Although it has to be said his head has not been totally on the job all year.

Cricket Australia must shoulder the blame for poor succession planning for senior players, a revolving door policy for spin bowlers and a general belief that the golden era would carry on without have to put in the hard work and single minded determination that got them there in the first place.

The Ashes series has been a case of England playng very well. Their top order got the runs and their bowlers bowled to the fields set. It was simple cricket.

For Australia their top order batting did not come to the party and their bowlers bowled like they were trying to do it all on their own instead of being part of a unit.

It has been many years since I have seen an England team play so well away from home. It has also been many years since I have seen an Australian team play so badly at home.

Despite all the doom and gloom there is every chance that Australia will finish the series tied at 2-2. England only have to drop a notch, which they are likely to do with the Ashes safely retained. Australia are likely to raise their game as well with the pressure of having to win gone.

Newswarped recommends that Ricky stays as a batsman. If the selectors want to drop him as captain then put Brad Haddin in the role in the short term while they decide on a longer term replacement.
Anyone else got an opinion out there?

England 513 (Trott 168*, Prior 85, Cook 82, Strauss 69, Pietersen 51, Siddle 6-75) beat Australia 98 (Tremlett 4-26, Anderson 4-44) and 258 (Haddin 55*, Watson 54, Bresnan 4-50) by an innings and 157 runs.