Gee, it didn’t take very long for the feel-good effect to disappear from English cricket, did it?
All those joyful celebrations and happy scenes at The Oval just a few weeks back have been rammed back down our throats by the Aussies. Six-nil down in a seven-match One Day International series? How pathetic is that?
The same old names and failures have trotted out for match after match. Players sometimes make a decent 20, 30 or even occasionally a 40, like Kent’s Joe Denly who got to 45 this week and then chucked his wicket away.
The Australians are a different breed. They regard 45 as a failure because they want to reach 50. And if they get out between 50 and 100 they regard that as a failure because they want to make a ton. These are crucial differences in the psychological make-up of the two peoples. Aussies are fighters, not for nothing renowned for their ability to scrap their way out of most situations by dint of sheer graft and bloody mindedness.
When you look at what has happened since, you honestly wonder how on earth England won the Ashes. Chiefly because Australia had one dire session in their first innings; that was the main reason ...
Imagine how they felt after they’d lost the Ashes at The Oval for the second time in four years? They were hurting like hell. Their response has been typical of the sort of people they are, innate fighters. But then, maybe when you are that low, you do fight harder. After all, England lost the last Ashes series in Australia 5-0 in 2007 but then promptly went out and won the ODI tournament. So there is a corollary there.
But what mystifies me about England is why they don’t look elsewhere for players who might succeed. It seems once you’re in an England squad, you can’t get out of it. Yet England only have to look at the example of Jonathan Trott, the player they brought in for his Test debut amidst the excruciating pressure of that final Ashes Test which England had to win to take the series.
Trott got into the 40s in his first innings before being unluckily run out and then made 119 in his second knock.
What England’s ODI team urgently needs is someone who can bat through most of the 50 overs. Isn’t Trott worth a try for that job? Isn’t Kent’s Geraint Jones, who has moved up the order to No. 3 this year and made a stack of runs to help his county to the 2nd division Championship title, worth looking at as a batsman? Jones could always bat well at Test level; it was his wicket-keeping which was the weak part of his game. But now, isn’t he worth considering, even just as a batsman? It’s not as if Matt Prior is doing anything much.