Surprise, surprise. We lost the Ashes again. And within hours, the blame game begins. Was it the terrible umpiring? Poor selection? (perhaps some poor shot selection on the part of our batsmen) Should Ponting fall on his sword? (no, we’re not English)
It’s strange how we point to events toward the end of a test match as the key turning points. Like the run outs of Ponting and Clarke. Or the awful shot of Haddin who thought he was seeing watermelons instead of cricket balls like his partner Hussey (who batted superbly, and finally returned to his best – watch out for him during the one-day series). The turning point of the fifth test was on the second day when we were bowled out for 160; the rest was just a natural consequence. And even then, the talk wasn’t that we had batted poorly, but that it was all in the pitch. All this talk is both a lack of and misplaced accountability.
Without a doubt, we underperformed. You can’t win tests when you collapse and score way too little in the first innings, and have to play catch up for the rest of the match. We did on three occassions. You also can’t win tests with an attack that is raw (how many , unbalanced, not in form, and not experienced in the conditions. At no point in the series did enough of our bowlers fire.
It should be pointed out that the the last four Ashes series have all gone to the home team. This is a fascinating statistic. It highlights that during this period, all that has separated Australia and England have been the local conditions. For we Aussies, it’s a sobering thought.
We’ve only now been relegated to fourth in the test rankings, but this was only a matter of time after previous series losses, which in turn were a flow-on from the end of the ‘golden years’ of Warne, McGrath, and Gilchrist. The most important lesson from this Ashes performance is for the selectors. Blaming them to the touring squad or the lack of spinner in the final test is just as short-sighted as the aforementioned blame-game. While the players themselves need a narrow focus on the next ball or over or session of play, selectors need to take a very long-term view on team composition and preparation for major tours. I hope they look back at the last few years and learn a few things.