Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Aussie response shows how closes Ashes series will be

I think we got a little giddy when England when 3-0 up the recent one-day series with Australia.

With the Ashes and the T20 World Cup already in the bag, a third win over the Aussies in the longer format of the one-day game gave us bragging rights we haven't had for a generation.

It certainly seemed to touch a nerve with Ricky Ponting, who reacted angrily to such questioning by an English journalist, asking said scribe to tot up the number of victories his side have had over England in recent years to truly establish who has the bragging rights.

Rather unsurprisingly Ponting channelled that frustration into leading a fight back on the pitch. England were reminded why Australia have such a formidable reputation with two convincing victories to bring the score to 3-2, making the end result as tight as the cricket betting had suggested it would be.

In fact given the way England nearly surrendered the victory at Old Trafford it could have been Australia celebrating the series win.

One of the highlights of Australia's fight back was the re-emergence of Shaun Tait. His devastating 100 mph rockets gave England no end of trouble and made you wonder what difference he could have in last year's Ashes had injury problems not cut short his Test career.

There will no doubt be clamours for Tait to reconsider his retirement and rejoin the Test arena but I don't think he will listen. He knows his body well enough by now to appreciate the rigours of five day cricket may be too much to bear.

However, the way the stumps of Andrew Strauss, Michael Yardy and Paul Collingwood were blasted apart but Tait's electric deliveries shows how England struggle with raw pace.

And ominously when these two teams meet again it will not be on the lush, swing friendly green pitches of England but the hard, dry, pace-hungry squares of Australia, with a partisan crowd desperate for a repeat of the 5-0 thrashing dealt out to England four years ago. The Ashes cricket betting still makes the home side strong favourites, so clearly things will not be straightforward.

England have definitely improved over the past 12 months and shown they can compete with the best, but if they want to even entertain the thought of retaining the Ashes down under the hard work is yet to begin.

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