....and whereas the series has not been won, The Ashes, for the first time in a quarter of a century, have been retained by England!
there's a good deal of retrospect and review to come from many, many people over the next few weeks about this series thus far, which i shall certainly be contributing in this post. however, for the moment, let us savour a remarkable achievement for what it is.
praise has been flowing thick and fast from every corner of the oldest contested duel, and rightly so. no one is making excuses for the apparent poor state of the Australian side, instead focusing on the brilliant England team. the most heartfelt praise came from the man who more than anyone else perhaps stopped England from greatness in the Ashes, Shane Warne. nice one fella!
questions do have to be asked, however, as how it is that Australia have fallen so far that they have (so far) lost two Tests against their greatest opponents by an innings. there is no question of the quality of their players, there seems to be huge issues with just how much of that quality is being shown.
a few years ago, when this whole "Twenty Twenty" business started, there was an allegation that the Australian side did not take this new variant of the game seriously. "well, they had better start" was captain Ricky Ponting's answer to that allegation after they had been squarely beaten by Bangladesh in this format of the game. i can't but help wonder if the complacency Australia developed in that version of the game, followed by a few Aussie heads being turned by the alarmingly large money offered by this new format, hasn't crossed over and all of a sudden a new generation of Aussie cricketers have not quite grasped the importance and stature of Test cricket in general and The Ashes in particular.
the one Australian who certainly does appreciate this is the one likely to take, rather unfairly, most of the blame and consequences of not winning The Ashes, Mr Ricky Ponting.
the above, very sadly, could be the last time we see Mr Ponting on the field of play in a Test arena. yes, in this series he has failed with the bat, but far worse than that is how the players he has been given have failed him and their country. very little of what has gone wrong for Australia (and be mindful that the series thus far has mostly rather been what has gone right for England) is the fault of Ponting, but as the leader of the team you can be certain he'll be expected to shoulder the fallout. no genuine cricket fan would wish or hope to see Ricky leave the game in the manner it looks like he will be.
well, whereas The Ashes are ours for another couple of years, there's the small matter of a live series still on our hands. in the New Year everything moves to the beautiful city of Sydney, where one hopes and expects that England will face a tough battle to beat Australia. we have a squad capable of doing it, let us see if Australia has the will and mettle to stop us.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!