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Posts Tagged ‘The Ashes’

History Beckons The Arch Rivals

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

This Lords Test will go down in history, irregardless of its result, apart from a draw. If Australia wins, then they would create the record of the highest successful run chase in the history of cricket. Vice versa, England will end their 75-year-old winning drought at the Cathedral of cricket, against the mighty Aussies.

Earlier, England declared at their overnight score of 311/6, with Australia needing 521 to win the test match. Andrew Flintoff jolted Australia with his rattling pace, dismissing Phil Hughes and Simon Katich in the early overs. Greame Swann joined the party with a couple of wickets after Stuart Broad sent back Ricky Ponting with an inswinger. A slaughter had looked apparent at that time. However, Brad haddin joined Michael Clarke and the pair put Australia in a position, from where they could seriously look for a victory. Australian batsmen cannot be blamed completely for their dismal batting as Hussey and Hughes fell due to poor umpiring. This would trigger off another controversy, if Australia come anywhere close to their target of 521 runs.

England looked solid on day four after their enterprising declaration, which would get them six sessions to bowl-out the Australians. Flintoff showed no signs of injury as he bowled long overs with good pace. He was rewarded with the wickets of both the openers, though Phil Hughes’s dismissal was doubtful. Swann bowled with lot of variations and he got couple of wickets, which included an arm ball to dismiss Marcus North. Stuart Broad became the second fastest English bowler after Ian Botham to get 50 wickets. He couldn’t get a better one than Ponting’s wicket, as he scalped the Australian captain with a perfect inswinger.

Another nail-biter awaits the spectators at the home of cricket and it won’t get any bigger than this. To seal a win, England needs to take five wickets and Australia need to score 209 runs. Test Cricket is joining the excitement created by the T20 matches. If we witness more test matches of this quality, then Test Cricket will definitely have its place in cricket, even if there are 100 T20 matches played in a year.

Persistent Strauss propelled England to 364

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Andrew Strauss marked a delightful as well as a mesmerizing knock at the cathedral of cricket, which propelled England to 364 for the loss of 6 wickets. At one stage, they were 222 for the loss of 2 wickets but a dismal performance by their middle order helped Australia to gain the momentum exactly like the Cardiff test.
Earlier, once again, the coin swung in favor of England and they hardly had any hesitation to bat first on a placid track. Mitchell Johnson’s woe with the new-ball continued as he bowled a terrible opening spell that helped the English openers to cut loose. He bowled cross-seam deliveries, which had no effect on a flat track and was comfortable for the batsmen to put it way with the pace he was bowling. Siddle was fiery from the start but the wickets column doesn’t reveal the truth. It was a huge blow when Hauritz walked off the pitch due to a finger dislocation but England failed to capitalize on that. Kevin Pieterson got a good start, however a ripper from Siddle ended that. In his last test at lords, Andrew Flintoff never looked comfortable against reverse swing and finally gave his wicket to a determined Hilfenhaus.
It is now a huge responsibility on the shoulders of Andrew Strauss to get a score defendable for the English bowlers. According to the wicket, 500 would be a par score but with Strauss as the only specialist batsmen, it looks highly unlikely. On the other hand, Australia will be looking to wrap up the tail in no time so they can post a good total to come back in to this match. Nevertheless, the contest is getting more compressed as it is hard to choose the winner. Anyway it is good for test cricket, which has been choked after T20 emerged as the favorite brand of cricket.

Battle Resumes At The ‘Home of Cricket’

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

The Lords has been a conundrum for English cricket since the World War II, as England could never beat the Aussies at cricket’s headquarters. England will strive hard to break this jinx not only to break that awful record but also to gain the upper hand in this ongoing Ashes. Nevertheless, it will be a great match on the cards.

Australia will be hoping for the replication of their efforts in the first innings, though they need to put in the effort for getting the 20 English wickets. Australian batting will have little to worry about, as the four centuries by their batsmen itself is evidence. Australia’s bowling department deserves a big applause for the kind of performance they have put in at Cardiff. In the absence of Brett Lee. Johnson and Co. bowled with great enthusiasm and energy with a mix of aggression, which found tough for the Englishmen. Hauritz was the surprise package for Australia, as he scalped a few valuable wickets, which almost put England on the brink of a defeat. Siddle too bowled with great energy and enthusiasm, which is a good sign for Australian cricket.

England would bank a lot on their marquee all rounder, Andrew Flintoff, for upsetting the Aussies. His fitness would be a cause of concern, but his presence will definitely charge up his teammates. English batsmen should emulate the perseverance shown by the Australian batsmen to build a good innings, especially on a lively track like Lords. The inclusion of in-form Graham Onions will boost the English bowling that had looked quite ordinary in the first test.

Flintoff Is Off Again

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

After twisting his knee during the first innings, Andrew Flintoff is all set to miss the second test of the 2009 Ashes, which will begin on Thursday. Having salvaged a draw at Cardiff, England would definitely be looking for a better performance in the next matches and it will be a huge blow if Flintoff is ruled out. He was definitely the pick of the English bowlers who looked to threaten the Australian batsmen.

The inclusion of in-form Harmmison will be a boost for England, however they cannot overlook the all-round abilities of Flintoff, who was instrumental in the Ashes triumph in 2005. The England lacked zip and never looked ominous apart from Flintoff. Their decision to play 2 spinners backfired after both Panesar and Swann were whacked by the Australian batsmen. Anderson was economical and got couple of wickets, however Stuart broad had an under whelming performance with just a wicket to talk about.

Strauss won’t have many things to ponder, apart from the dismal form of Alastair Cook, who failed in both innings. England might give him another chance since they wouldn’t want to change their combination amidst an important series.

Collingwood Rescued England On An Action-Packed Final Day

Monday, July 13th, 2009

The final day started off with an altercation between Kevin Pieterson and Mitchell Johnson when the former hit a ball at the Australians during the pre-match practice session. This tension spread to the turf and until the end of the match, few more spats happened. This gave new vigor to the match which lacked energy when it commenced.

England started off the final day with tremendous pressure of having to save the match. Australia ran into the English top order, confining them to 55 for 4 wickets at drinks. Pieterson was the first man to go after missing a straight one from Hilfenhaus, who bowled extremely well right throughout this test match. England found itself in deep trouble after Strauss was caught behind by Brad Haddin off Nathan Hauritz. They went in to lunch with a sorry-looking scorecard of 102 runs for the loss of 5 wickets. In the 50th over, Flintoff edged a Johnson delivery to captain Ricky Ponting which resulted in yet another verbal exchange. As soon as Flintoff perished, victory looked apparent for the Australians and they bowled with zest to knock England out.

Peter Siddle bowled a fiery spell against Greame Swann, who looked rather uncomfortable against his short deliveries. Siddle targeted his head couple of times and the English physio had a busy 5th day nursing these blows. Few times, when the ball hit Swann’s helmet and gloves, Siddle got elated and sent few pleasantries at the batsman. Even amidst these tense moments, Haddin and Swann shared a grin, which you would see very rarely in the Ashes. After a long and hard battle, Swann was finally trapped in front of the wicket by Hilfenhaus. This dismissal almost sealed an Australian victory, with 18 odd overs to bowl. However, Collingwood had other plans in mind and he was well supported by a defiant Anderson who worked hard to save his wicket. Finally, Peter Siddle sent back Collingwood after a match-saving innings from the latter.

Tension loomed large over Cardiff as dusk began to fall. Australia juggled their bowlers in pursuit of that odd wicket, but was denied it by a determined Panesar and Anderson. In the end, it can be termed as England sealed a draw. However the Australian captain was miffed at the on-field disruptions by the physio and the 12th man, which eventually lost an over for Australia and also a victory.

Cardiff test started off as an ordinary test match yet had everyone on the edge of their seats at the end. Now as the teams move towards the home of cricket at Lords, the flow of adrenaline has intensified and the on field tiffs will set ablaze this exciting test series.

Both teams were matched even on papers before the start of the series and now Australia hold a slight edge for the intensity at which they are playing. It would be an uphill task for the English men to reclaim the Ashes urn against this defiant Australian outfit.

Resilient Australia Bounced Back After English Tail Wagged

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich hit tons as Australia reduced the deficit to 186. Earlier Greame Swann hit 47 not out to take England score to 435. England tail enders annoyed Australia, as they piled up 99 runs in just 16.5 overs which took England to a respectable total. Peter Siddle started of with couple of half volleys, which helped the tail to get the momentum they wanted. Johnson scalped Stuart Broad for 19 when the score was just 355 and after that Greame Swann joined Anderson to launch a ferocious assault against the Aussie bowlers. This pair added 68 runs in just 10 overs which irritated the Aussie bowlers to the core as Mitchell Johnson lost his cool and sent out smears at the batsmen.

Australia started well as rookie opener Phil Hughes made a brisk 28 of just 30 balls before lunch. England bowlers made the mistake of pitching it short and offering width. He scored runs quickly without any hesitation. Post lunch, Flintoff came in and bowled from around the stumps to Hughes. His vulnerability against short-pitched deliveries was then exposed. It was tough for him to play Flintoff with the kind of pace he was bowling. Finally, he fell to a short delivery from Flintoff, which went in to the hands of Matt Prior. Ricky Ponting started off cautiously. However, once he got his eye in, he played some mesmerizing drives and gained control of the match. Katich looked composed from the time he entered the crease and apart from Flintoff, no other bowler threatened him. Pitch started to turn from the afternoon, but neither Swann nor Panesar troubled the Aussie pair.

As the third day beckons, the intensity of the series has been below par compared to 2005.If Australia managed to score 500+ runs, which looks apparent with the current scenario, then England’s second innings will decide the fate of this test match. According to the pitch report, it is expected to turn from day 3. We have seen some hint of turn on day 2 itself. So if Hauritz and part-timers bowl with their heart out, then Australia will have a greater chance to win the test.

Reckless Act From Pietersen Halted English Progress

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

The nightmare almost turned into a reality for the Australians as Kevin Pieterson rescued England from an uncomfortable position to a secure zone. However, his awful shot off Hauritz from wide of the offstump resulted in his dismissal, which proved decisive later.

Earlier, England decided to bat after winning the toss. Ben Hilfenhaus had drawn the first blood by sending Alastair Cook in the eighth over of the innings. Captain Andrew Strauss was looking good but a short ball from Johnson ended that cameo. Ravi Bopara couldn’t replicate his form in the shorter versions to the tests as he fell to a slower one from Johnson. Pieterson joined Collingwood to consolidate the innings and the duo added 158 runs for the 4th wicket before Collingwood edged Hilfenhaus to Haddin for 64 Runs. Matt Prior formed an excellent support for Pieterson and England were heading towards a good score. Pieterson’s intentions were clear against Hauritz. However as he chased a wide delivery to sweep the bowler to fine leg, it ended in the safe hands of Simon Katich. Freddie Flintoff came in after having recovered from the ankle surgery. Flintoff looked relaxed and played some excellent drives. Matt Prior on the other hand was looking too good as the pair added 86 runs in no time. Peter Siddle came back to dismiss both to bring Australia back on track. James Andersen and Stuart Broad remained unbeaten at stumps on a seesaw day as neither Australia nor England hold the edge.

England will be looking for a score not less than 400, which will put Australia under tremendous pressure. Australia on the other hand will be looking to wrap up the English innings quickly to regain the momentum in the first test.

Will Freddie Make The Cut?

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The summer of 2005 will be known for ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s staggering performance against the mighty Aussies, which helped the English to reclaim the Ashes urn after a very long time. When the Ashes comes back to the home of cricket after a gap of 4 years, Flintoff is nursing a knee surgery, which he sustained during the IPL in South Africa. This injury ruined England’s chances at the ICC World T20, in which they were knocked out at the Super Eight stage. 

Regardless of his patchy batting form since 2005, Andrew Flintoff has evolved as the strike bowler of England after the disappearance of Simon Jones; who had deceived the Aussies with his sorcerous reverse swing. Flintoff couldn’t manage to get a single international century after 2005 but he has launched several breathtaking assaults during this period. He has clocked 140k’s consistently with steep bounce, which halted several greats.

The availability of Andrew Flintoff for the Ashes remains still uncertain. Currently, it would be an even contest on papers based on the form of both teams. If he plays, then England will have an apparent edge over Australia, which will set the stands on fire. England is desperately looking for a triumph which can repair their tainted image caused by the early exit from the T20 World Cup held in their home soil.

In quest for the urn

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

The ‘Invincible’ tag was a part of the Australian team till the start of the T20 World cup in England but it was tainting. The exit from the first round of the tournament was probably the last nail in the coffin for the world conquerors. They lack the ruthlessness and professionalism, which had put them at the helm of cricket for a decade and the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne in the bowling and Mathew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist in batting. An encore of 2006 Ashes would be hard; nevertheless they are a strong side who has the potency to defend the ashes urn successfully.

Bunch of rookies

Compared to the squad of 2006, the present Australian team is infused with lot of young talents. The farewell of the greats like McGrath, Warne, Hayden and Gilchrist was instrumental behind this. Phil Hughes was the biggest beneficiary of this transition as he was lucky to get the baggy green at the age of 20, which we can’t see very often in the Australian cricket. Hughes embarked on his test career with a glittering performance against the South African’s, which cemented his place in the Ashes Squad. It is too early to make judgment on his talent and temperament but still he is a future prospect. The next in the list is Marcus North. He has also shown a glimpse of talent against South Africa in the test series with his all-round abilities. He can be a good replacement for Andrew Symonds, who lost his place in the team due to lack of focus on cricket. North needs to put in some real performances in the current ashes to prove the selectors that they aren’t wrong. Andrew McDonald, Ben Hilfenhaus, Graham Manou and Peter Siddle are the other blokes who are waiting to make an impact the Ashes.

Lonely Johnson

It would be a dream come true for Mitchell Johnson as he spearheads the Australian pace attack, where Brett Lee struggling to get back in to his rhythm and Shane Watson nursing a thigh injury. If fit, then Brett Lee would certainly make it to the final XI however, Ricky Ponting wouldn’t be that confident after his lackluster opening spell in the warm up match against Sussex. Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Stuart Clark will compete for the third seamer’s position and Nathan Hauritz will come in to the reckoning, if there is something for the slow bowlers. Shortly, Mitchell Johnson will have to take the responsibility of making early inroads in to England’s top order.

Hauritz ≠ Warne

Ricky Ponting is aware of the fact that they lack a spinner of Warne’s quality; however it would be harsh to compare Hauritz to Warne. The simple reason is that Shane Warne is arguably the best spinner cricket has ever produced and Hauritz is an average leg spinner, who doesn’t have the sorcerous abilities of Shane Warne. If Ponting uses him as a leg spinner rather than as a replacement for Warne, then he won’t be disappointed.

Apart from all the aforesaid factors, Ricky Ponting’s form as a captain and batsman will play an important role in this Ashes. He has got more responsibly alongside Michael Clark and Michael Hussey to put a good score for his inexperienced bowlers to defend. His captaincy is definitely at stake after the T20 World Cup debacle and if he couldn’t successfully defend the urn then this ashes would sing the farewell song of Ricky’s captaincy.

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