The Reuters global sports blog
It’s not only the on-field performances that let England down in the Ashes. The selectors too got it wrong starting from the initial announcement of the squad to the playing XI that was chosen for the third Test. The team management must also share the blame for going 3-0 down and losing the urn.
They made their first mistake in denying paceman Graham Onions a place in the touring party, a move that then came under harsh criticism in the English media. He has long been considered the second best swing bowler in England after James Anderson and his omission especially after a good season with Durham was baffling if not downright foolish. Instead, Onions is now in South Africa, playing for the Dolphins.
Of course, it is easy to criticise the selectors on the basis of hindsight but there were early signs that should have been heeded.
England were drained after winning the home Ashes 3-0 in August and it would have only been prudent to inject some more firepower into the playing XI for the return series, knowing that Australia would fight back hard.
First, it was current No. 1 India, who lost to Pakistan (No. 6) at home, followed by third-ranked Australia, who fought hard to just level a series with visitors Sri Lanka. Then it was the turn of hosts South Africa to lose a three-match series to lower-ranked New Zealand.
When Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels came close to trading blows at the jam-packed MCG, it made for great TV viewing.
Sadly, in a sport like cricket which has always been considered a “gentleman’s game”, it wasn’t an aberration.
Surfing’s image has always been clouded by images of wild lifestyles, of cashed-up athletes treading a fine line between partying and performing.
Last week’s crazy Cape Town test match between South Africa and Australia, where 23 wickets fell in a day and the visitors narrowly avoided the lowest ever test score, will go down in cricket’s esteemed annals.
They meet again at the Wanderers from Thursday. But would test cricket fans want to see a repeat?
Respected but seldom loved at home, admired but also reviled abroad, Ricky Ponting led Australia to great success but his captaincy will ultimately be defined by three lost Ashes series.
The tough, single-minded Tasmanian always put the team first and that, he said, had prompted him to stand down after nine years in charge of the Australia one-day team and seven as test skipper on Tuesday.
The most test (48) and one-day international (164) wins by any captain as well as successive World Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007 is an impressive record by any standards, and there has never been any doubt about his quality as a batsman.
The cornerstone of Australia’s past and many successes was often their stubbornness and competitiveness but with the nation at an all time low the new way forward is honesty and the equation is a basic one.
Elementary, Shane Watson.
The man can bat, bowl and field, as he showed during the 3-1 Ashes defeat to England and the two Twenty20 internationals, but what was most notable about the all-rounder was his honesty in front of cameras.
Look away now Australian cricket fans, this one’s going to hurt like a cricket bat to the groin. Their team has carried their abject 2010 form into 2011 by slumping to another defeat to a rampant England side but this time in Twenty20 rather than tests.
While England notched up their eighth straight victory in the shortest version of cricket – a new world record – the last ball defeat in Adelaide means Australia have now lost 17 of their last 24 completed matches in all forms of the game.
England’s cricketers wrapped up a 3-1 series victory against Australia in Sydney on Friday and held aloft the little Ashes urn for the first time in 24 years on Australian soil.
They should enjoy the moment. It has been hard earned and a long time in coming. The taste of success will be sweet and should be savoured after so much hurt and torment at the hands of the great Australian sides of the last 20 years.