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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Ecstasy at the MCG: England retain the Ashes...

The yearn for the urn is over after three and a half days at the MCG. It's a staggering achievement for England, Andrew Strauss, Andy Flower, pragmatism, technological analysis in the face of scoffing (I love you, Sir Geoffrey, but come on, old fruit), team spirit and avant garde modern dance.  Australia went down with a little bit of slap and Siddle yesterday as the fiesty Victorian continued his excellent bowling display on his home ground by, alongside Brad Haddin, big-bashing another 80-odd runs. But, barring a meteorological act of out of character spite from the ghost of Bill Woodfull, it was always going to be a matter of time before England wrapped up the match.

It is a wonderful moment for all the players, management and backroom staff who have fostered a state of contented equilibrium within the squad that has allowed the big guns to fire (KP, Trott, Strauss), the tentative not quite previously bloomed against Oz to flower (Cookie, Jimmy) and the unexpected unsungs to rise up to the status of match winners (Tremlett, Bresnan, Finn).  You only have to watch some of Graeme Swann's video diaries to see that this is a group of likable, decent men who - a vital commodity for a touring side - like each other.  I personally haven't felt quite as elated about a sporting triumph since Brian Stein volleyed past Jon Lukic in 1988.  Huge credit and congratulations are due to England. Well played. Well played, indeed.

Obviously the flip-side is the woe incumbant upon Oz at the moment, and it will be fascinating to see how the situation with Ponting and his continued role in the side plays out. It's a dead rubber now at the SCG - at least in terms of the Ashes if not the series - and previous Aussie regimes might have ditched him in favour of starting a brave new world immediately, but there's not enough Soma in the world to convince the Australian public that, at the moment, either Michael Clarke or, stop sniggering, Shane Watson is the man to lead them once more into the sunny uplands. Speculation and sombre retrospection from an Aussie perspective can be found here, here and here.

Meanwhile over in Durban, India continue to close in on victory against the Saffers, which will be a fantastic fightback after defeat in the first Test and their own collapse in the first innings. Given that it's Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth leading the charge, perhaps we should forget about Andy Flower and be lauding India's coach Gary Kirsten as the high priest of teambuilding....

Update: Curses....Punter's out anyway due to his pinky problems....

70 comments:

  1. A piece nicely describing England's retaining of the Ashes in Australia AND a mention of Luton's glorious triumph against Arsenal in the 1988 League Cup Final?

    Best Ashes article I've read all winter

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  2. Arf, much appreciated. Up the Hatters!

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  3. The result got a mention in the New York Times under the headline "England leaves Australia in ruins". Woo!

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  4. Cheers Rich. I imagine the Czech papers had a field day, too...;)

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  5. hi, new to the site, thanks.

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