Out of the Ashes…

by Darren Dawson

Is there anything more depressing than an eagerly awaited sporting contest which is decided far too early? Three hours into Day 1, this Boxing Day Test Match was over. There would be no coming back from 98 all-out. I was despondent. And as Strauss and Cook plundered 157 by stumps, it was bye-bye Ashes.

For me, the only remaining interest in the match would be to watch the response of the Australians to what was so obviously a lost cause. How would each member of the team cope with such a hopeless situation?

Day 4 was a formality. To the strains of “Land of Hope and Glory”, the last rites were performed.

At various points throughout this test, I attended, I watched on television, and I listened to the radio. I hardly missed a ball. And for what it is worth, these are the findings of a voyeur watching a train crash and reporting on the results.

Watson: his continued failure to convert good starts into big scores is a huge concern. Yes, he averages 50 as an opener, but it is almost as if he hits a wall mentally after he passes the half-century. He desperately needs to rectify his calling and running between wickets and, it seems to the naked eye, that his bowling has lost much of its penetration. Still, at this stage of proceedings we will take 50 from one of our openers every time!

Hughes: has an eye like a dead fish. No-one complained about his technique when he was hitting Dale Steyn out of the park last year. He was starting to regain form and confidence in the second dig until he was bar-b-qued by his partner. He is young, and at his home ground next week he may come good.

Ponting: is one of the greatest batsmen this country has ever produced, so to watch him struggle through that tortuous second innings 20 was like being forced to watch an episode of “Two And A Half Men”. Pure torture. There is a deep sadness within me knowing that he will most likely never regain his once-regal powers.

Clarke: has had three poor series. In his pomp he was a joy to watch, but if he were not vice-captain he would not now be in the side. The fact that he will captain the national 20/20 team is a national disgrace.

Hussey: has been the team’s best bat this series, but I wonder if it has all been a final fling for Huss. I have always loved him, but fear another resurgence may be beyond him.

Smith: is not a test player. His second innings was full of bravado, but he is not a number 6. And unless his bowling improves markedly, he is not a spinning option either.

Haddin: I rate Paine and wanted him to be our keeper for this series, but I stand corrected. The first-innings shot was deplorable, but today he was a warrior until the end, even though his glove-work is questionable at times.

Johnson: his efforts in Perth were thrilling but there has been nothing in the eighteen months prior, nor the week since, to make me believe that he will be of any sustained value to the team. And apart from that good knock last week, he has not contributed with the bat.

Harris: lion-hearted but injury-prone, and may well have played his final test. The future surely lies elsewhere.

Siddle: needs to be his own man, and not succumb to being dictated to by the hierarchy. Bowl with pace and on a good length, mate, and it will continue to happen. His late-order hitting today was what we want to see our tail-enders do.

Hilfenhaus: just cannot get wickets. Yes, he swings it occasionally, but the Poms play him so easily. He will never bowl a side out, so it is time for someone else to have a turn.

Beer: the selectors picked him, so they should give him a game! Sydney is a massive audition for him.

The Ashes are gone this time. Despite what the media are saying, and as poorly as Australia has played, the series can still be tied! That would be a less than satisfying result for an England who celebrated today with the gusto of a world champion. Maybe something of value can still be salvaged from this train-wreck?

And hopefully, the disappointment I experienced for the majority of this test would dissipate just a little.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. One of the things this series has done is make cricket-lovers look at the Sheffield Shield again to remind ourselves of who is playing, and who is doing well in winning teams. Performances which win matches must count for plenty. Every innings of a batsman, every spell of a bowler has context.

  2. Peter Schumacher says

    If ever there was a time for new talent to step up, now is it, please!!!!!!!

  3. Smokie, I’m with you on Hughes (although I think we’re increasingly on our own).

    He suffers in Aussie spectators eyes because all his best test batting has occurred overseas, away from broadcast TV audiences. He’s been picked this summer whilst badly out of form and hasn’t looked flash. But I would play him in Sydney.

    Despite our problems with openers, I still think Watson should bat at 6 and be a proper all-rounder. I think his bowling has improved since he stopped pretending to be a fast bowler and focused on moving the ball (an increasingly rare Australian skill). Just NEVER EVER give him a role which requires serious thinking (i.e. captaincy).

  4. I reckon we need to get some nerds out of grade 4 and teach them cricket. You know the types, the kids who always have their nose in a book, the kids who know how to read between the lines, the kids with perception and intelligence, the kids who can CONCENTRATE!. Watson is a classic modern day cricketer, part of the me generation (iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMe), who can get only part of the way and then it gets too hard. Matbe I’m being harsh because I quite like his batting technique. Lovely driver of the ball.

    What’s troubling is that no one is busting the door down to get into the team. Maybe we haven’t seen Australia’s next great cricketer. Has anyone seen Alex Keath play?

  5. I think if Clarke was to be made captain he’d need to give up his habit of whistling at his fieldsmen. It’s enough to give anyone the pip.

  6. Dips,

    I’ve just stopped giggling re #4.

    Maddinson from NSW looks a real prospect.

  7. There’s a bloke from Dungog goes OK, and he’s only 60-odd.

  8. Peter Flynn says

    Ponting out through pinky break.

  9. Peter Flynn says

    Team now announced at 5:30pm.

    This will be interesting.

  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    Dips , I saw Alex Keath play in Canberra last year. Can’t remember how many runs he made but he looks like a nice young lad.

  11. Pamela – I guess that’s the main thing!

  12. Peter Flynn says

    The word is Khawaja and Bollinger are in.

    Clarke is skipper.

  13. Pamela Sherpa says

    Dips, looks are always a good start- he looks quite tall, but still growing and has quite broad looking shoulders. Im sure he will be just lovely and play well too! Will give you another report after I see him play in a couple of weeks time.

  14. What pathetic selection. The Ashes losing combination is almost unchanged. Presumably Khawaja only got a game because Ponting was injured otherwise the same top six that lost the fourth test would have been sent to Sydney. Hughes may one day replicate his South African performances but he hasn’t shown much of it this year. I agree with Smokie on Clarke and Smith. White should have been given a game as a batsman and potential future Captain and Ferguson should also have been been considered. The injured Harris should have been replaced by a spin bowler. As it is Bollinger will carry the drinks (I hope) and Australia will go in with the untried Beer and the unsuccessful Smith as its spin attack. Pathetic!

  15. Michael Viljoen says

    Five New South Welshmen were in the last test team:
    a pair of openers (one intent on running out the other),
    a handy wicket keeper (at least the second best in the country),
    a specialist number 6 (brought in to lengthen the tail),
    and the vice-captain with an average of 20 batting at 4.
    So in the new test team, we promote two of these fellows to captain and vice-captain, and make sure that those injured are replaced by two more from NSW (thus making it 7 out of the selected 12).
    I saw a picture of Kwahaja in his sky blue and royal blue ‘Australian’ training top. Need we say more?

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