The Ashes 2015 – Fourth Test Review: How important is a home advantage?

How many times can momentum turn in one Ashes series?
The question that littered many an avid cricket fan’s mind was indefinitely answered early on day one of the Fourth Test, as the favourited Aussies had finally dug a hole too deep to be clambered out of.

For once, daily reviews weren’t required, with this Test match concluding just two and a half days into the usual five day maximum limit. Day four and five ticket-holders for Trent Bridge felt mixed emotions early on day one, as the demolition done by Broad caused elation in English hearts, while also giving them the sinking feeling that their purchase of tickets for the latter days were all but a waste.

After the gut-wrenching crash to Earth that the Aussies received for the second time in the series, Captain Clarke and his tired troops fronted up at Nottingham ready to do what they did at Lord’s; resurrect their cricketing nation in a torrid and turbulent time.

But, unlike the steely determination that was put forth by Clarke at the toss, a gleam and a look of forlorn and unrealistic hope littered his eyes, as he expressed his aspirations in levelling up the testing series yet again.

Unfortunately for him, the match concluded with the captain declaring his career at the end of the series, while his side coughed up a minute urn that they had worked so hard for just a year and a half ago.

With the momentum already shifting three times throughout the series; with the Poms snatching an amazing victory in the first Test, only for the Aussies to flex their muscles at Lord’s, along with the sterling return to form at Edgbaston, a neutral supporter would be hoping for yet another strike from the Aussies. Unfortunately for both the neutrals and the Aussie supporters, that wasn’t displayed, as what the Australians dished up would have been scathingly yelled at by Gordon Ramsay if it was on Hell’s Kitchen.

With Cook winning the toss and putting the Aussies in to bat first with a polished and refined act of quiet confidence, Clarke and his troops knew they were in for one hell of a struggle, with even the lack of Anderson and his massive swing still not opening up a testing void for the Pom bowling attack.

With Broad taking the new ball on a deck greener then Shrek’s skin, it was no surprise that his first two balls swung way down leg side, with one beating both Rogers and Buttler, such was the amount of swing that the Duke possessed from the aiding Trent Bridge pitch.

After two thundering past the pads of Rogers, his Kookaburra couldn’t pull out from a ball that took off in the other direction from his middle peg, as his unlucky and slight edge flew into the hands of Cook.

Out came Smith, with Warner watching on with astonishment and fear at the amazing curve that Broad was putting on the Duke, as Smith’s confident first two balls containing a 2 and a 4 was ended by a superb lifting delivery that yet again caught the edge of an Aussie bat and flew to the slip cordon, with Root being the lucky recipient this time around.

The noise wasn’t as loud and rapturous as one would presume it would be in this occasion, as the sheer surprise of the amazing start silenced Australians in pain and gob smacked Englishmen with delight.

The airfare to hike over to England from the land down under proved to be too much of a price, as the nervous tourists instantly wanted to rewind their lives back several months to unbook their flights, as Warner fell to Wood two balls into the second over, with the score lying on a destructive 3-10.

It didn’t get any better for the Aussies, with Clarke coming in and attacking, only for the recalled Marsh to get too pushy and stick his Gray Nicholls out at a ball that should be comfortably left alone, trudging off for yet another duck in what was an Aussie scorecard resembling a collection of single digit numbers.

Voges came and went in a style that reflected his terrible first and only Ashes series performances, as he dangled his bat out in a similar fashion to Marsh, only to be removed by a fantastic one-handed catch by Stokes, with his take epitomising the rub of the green that the Poms were experiencing.

With Broad running riot and already having four scalps to his name, Clarke’s demise left the score at 6-29 and the controversial Pom with five quick and cheap wickets. With a performance mirroring Boxing Day 2010 and South Africa 2011, the tail dug in to at least save some extremely tiny piece of credibility, as Johnson’s 13 and Lyon’s 9 pushed the score up to 60.

Amazingly enough, Broad ended with 8-15 and the extras finished with 14 runs, beating all of the Aussie batsman’s individual scores. With red faces full of embarrassment and shame, the downcast Australian’s left their bowlers to yet again attempt to defend an extremely small total.

This time, it was magnified, as Lyth and Cook put on 32 to take the game away from the Aussies, as the sun broke through the clouds and the Duke didn’t swing anywhere near as much as it did for Broad and company.

All in all, the Poms batted reservedly and without risk to finish an extraordinary day of cricket on 4/274, with Root remaining unbeaten on 124, as Bairstow partnered him superbly with 74. Starc appeared to finally find his groove, as he picked up six wickets early on day two to at least give the scorecard some amount of respectability.

But for the impossible to be achieved, picture Chennai in 2001 or Adelaide in 2003, a statement needed to be made just a day after their now infamous capitulation.

Rogers and Warner did just the trick, as they learnt from their opponents on how to pace their innings, surviving the new ball and putting on a strong and defiant 113, only for both to fall within 17 runs of each other after both posting gritty half centuries.

After that, the middle order did their usual and folded like a pack of cards bought at a $2 shop, with Voges being the lone man to resist the tidal wave that was the English cricket team.

His unbeaten 51 lasted to early on day three, as the last three wickets needed to wrap up an unbelievable Ashes victory being taken within twenty minutes of the resumption of play.

In the second innings for England, Stokes was the hero, as he managed to swing the ball just like Broad did on the first overcast morning that feels like a lifetime ago and produce six brilliant wickets.

After the match, Clarke declared his impending retirement from cricket, Broad gleefully accepted the man of the match award, Root soared to the top of the Test batting rankings and Cook thrust the little urn into the sky with his elated teammates right beside him on the podium at Trent Bridge.

Whether you are on the side of a dream or a nightmare, this Test sure surprised us in many ways.

Fourth Test

Australia 60 all out (18.3 overs)
Johnson 13
Clarke 10

Broad 8/15 (9.3)

England 9/391 declared (85.2 overs)
Root 130
Bairstow 74
Cook 43

Starc 6/111 (27)
Hazlewood 2/97 (24)

Australia 253 all out (72.4 overs)
Warner 64
Rogers 52
Voges 51*

Stokes 6/36 (21)
Wood 3/69 (17.4)

England wins by an innings and 78 runs.

Man of the Match: Stuart Broad.

Comments

  1. E.regnans says:

    G’day Sean.
    Incredible scenes there; no doubt.
    I’m not sure about this momentum idea. As a principle of physics, I think we’re losing touch with its true meaning.

    But one thing that irks me about the wash-up is Australians as victims.
    The ball didn’t swing as much for us?
    Well swing bowling is a skill to be executed.
    Yes, conditions certainly play a part, but a bowler needs the skill to exploit those conditions. We need to select players with those skills. It’s been done before (e.g. Alderman, Fleming, Hilfenhaus recently). And will be again.

    Their swing got us out?
    Well, combat it. Batsmen have faced a swinging ball for decades and found ways. Not our lot, though. (Rogers aside).
    Skills and execution of those skills lacking.
    Well played England.
    Grand use of skills.

  2. This series has more questions than answers. I seriously don’t consider England that much better than us, the margin flatters them. But once i make a statement like that questions pop up incessantly. Why have we lost four in a row over there? Why can’t we play the seaming/swinging/spinning ball away from Australia? Why the F*#% were we favourites? Why does Shaun Marsh get recalled? Who is the ‘real’ Mitchell Johnson?

    A very sad and sorry series for Australia, who believed their own hype. For the future we need to do that hardest of tasks, yes again; rebuild. Here even more questions jump out at us. How many of the tourists, beyond the two who have announced their retirements, will be put to pasture? For their replacements who offers the best prospects, those already tried like Doolan and Cowan, or the unproven, Maddison etc? All this and more is in front of us, but as we all know, “the future is unwritten”.

    To close, credit where it’s due, well played England.

    Glen!

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