What a topsy-turvy world we live in! Last week cricket fans in England were rejoicing after a great opening win against Australia in the 2015 Ashes series. Since then things have gone horribly wrong for the home team, who must have gone into the 2nd test feeling confident after their impressive win in Cardiff.
Alas, England could not have been further from the team that came out fighting only a week ago. Having asked the grounds keepers at Lords Cricket Ground to provide flat pitches (largely to negate the danger of Johnson), it’s not surprising that Australia chose to bat having won the toss. The Australian openers seemed comfortable from the outset and Rogers and Warner quickly moved into double figures. Having got themselves set, Australia went on to produce a big score. Smith, who is in devastating form, hit a double century, only the third at Lords by and Australian and this took their tally to over 500 runs in the first innings.
Having made the batting look easy, England must at least have felt that if they could bat for 2 days they would have a chance of drawing, if not potentially even winning the match. However, in all too familiar fashion, the top order failed to deliver, and England found themselves 3 wickets down with only a handful of runs on the board. The Australian bowlers seemed to be getting much more out of the pith than England could, and the English batsmen threw away some soft wickets. In form Cook managed to steady the ship slightly thanks to another partnership with Joe Root. But having lost most of their top order, England were never going to catch Australia, and they weren’t even able to avoid the follow-on. Australia decided not to enforce the follow-on choosing instead to bat again with a healthy lead. Again they looked untroubled with the bat and their second innings score soon tipped 200. With a huge lead of over 450 runs, Australia declared just before lunch on the 4th day eager to get England between the stumps.
Again, the England batting line up capitulated under Australian pressure. The top order (with the exception of Cook) rolled over yet again putting virtually no runs on the board. The game was ended far faster than even Australia could have hoped, with England not even managing to hold on until the final day. Australia won by a massive margin of 405 runs, the 4th biggest victory (in runs) of all time for England.
This defeat was not just poor it was humiliating. England bowled poorly and batted in a fashion that was reminiscent of men vs boys. England have some massive questions to ask themselves about how they are going to bat better, especially in the top order. Ideally, they should be dropping at least 2 of the opening 4 batsmen, but the question is – who comes in to replace them? England seem to have a few middle order batsmen hoping for a place, but no real candidates for the number 1-3 spots. Unfortunately, I’m concerned that England will little, if nothing to change things ahead of the next test. We know that England don’t like making changes, but at some point something has to give. Will it take another massive defeat for England to make the necessary changes.
Is there any good news?
Whilst watching this test match there was little to celebrate. Joe Root still looks class, and it’s great to see Cook in great form. Other than that the situation is dire. The only part of this test I enjoyed was seeing Rogers wearing the same sunglasses as I do! I saw him wrestling to get his helmet on when he moved to silly point, and as he did so I saw that he was wearing the bolle sunglasses I am so fond of when I’m in the field. Maybe I’ll go on to score 8 consecutive 50’s like he did!
I was so depressed after this game that my wife had to take me out for something to eat. She knows me too well to ask about the cricket so instead she just told to grab my jacket and out we went to one of my favourite tapas bars. Although the cricket was terrible, at least i have some of the best tapas in London right on my doorstep. After a few glasses of wine and some delicious tapas I was able to smile and think look forward (a little) to the next test match!
Let’s hope England come out fighting and at least make a game of it.