to borrow, paraphrase and elaborate on a rather familiar phrase, if they didn't think that it was all over, they surely do know that it is now.
well done lads. although i would rather hope that, instead of reading this, you are currently knee deep in empties at any or all of the very, very fine alcohol serving establishments the wonderful city of Sydney has to offer!
if the 2005 series is seen as the "greatest" Ashes series ever (or at least since Botham's Ashes of 1981) and the 2006/2007 series the most one-sided (featuring, as it did, one of the most ferocious, talented all-round Australian teams ever), then it's unsure exactly what this one will be defined as. with three by an innings victories it is difficult to see it as anything but the greatest away tour England have ever embarked on.
never mind that for a now. there have been far, far, far too many dark days in the world of the English cricket follower to worry about anything else but basking in the bright, shining light of this incredible day.
to refer to England fans as "long suffering" is no understatement. to follow our side we must surely be as barmy as Boycott labelled the army of followers who chanted and supported England through thick and thin. a vindication of the time, effort and money spent what often looked like a hopeless cause? absolutely!
England went into this series tipped, with great caution, as the slight favourites to win. this was a very, very strong English cricket team, especially when contrasted against an Australian team apparently struggling to replace a number of retired greats. no one, however, in their right mind would surely have staked a penny on the emphatic nature of the three victories England took. to win so much as one Test by an innings against Australia suggests that you are rather good at the sport; to win three by this margin in the same series sees instant legendary status bestowed upon you.
a moment, if you will, to say a good bye and thank you to that rarest of English cricketers, one who has three Ashes series wins to his name. nice work Colly, enjoy the celebrations!
yes, OK, a number of people would argue that Paul Collingwood should have been dropped before the 5th Test, as his form just hasn't been there this series. he has, however, been an excellent servant of the game, and i, along with all fans, are surely glad that the was allowed the opportunity to call time on his Test career on his own terms.
Colly's departure does make it somewhat easier to get Stuart Broad back into the England Test side. there was no way you could see any of the current bowlers being dropped after the performances given, and anyway it is time that Broad was developed into the all-rounder that he so clearly is.
on the subject of departures, let us hope that we have not seen the last of this great player.
as captain, an awful lot of pressure and blame has been placed on Ricky Ponting for the shortcomings of Australian cricket in this series. whereas he is not blame-free, his absence in the 5th Test has hopefully shown that it's not all his fault. how easy to forget that he has a formidable record of wins as captain, despite losing three Ashes series, and is one of the greatest batsmen the game has had the pleasure of witnessing. i really, really hope he is allowed to bow out on his terms, with the grace and gratitude he has truly earned.
man of the series? a tough call, really. Alistar Cook is the obvious candidate, with his runs setting up some of the most superb wins English cricket shall ever experience. however, with the greatest respect, wickets win you games as much as runs do, and in the justified celebration of what Cook has done, i would not wish it to be that the stunning work of James Andersonwas overlooked.
nice one Jimmy! taking 25 wickets in a Test series is a magnificent accomplishment. the batsmen did their job in getting the runs, but it was a bowling attack led by Anderson that made sure Australia could neither equal the totals or, in the case of three Tests, just bat out for a draw.
whereas not quite in the league of an Ashes series, i note that in the middle of the year India tour England. this will be a series which shall effectively decide who is the best Test team in the world at the moment. no prizes for guessing who i shall be backing!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!