The Ashes 2015 – Momentum and the Ashes

Tell me if I’m wrong, but momentum in professional sport is so much more important and decisive these days, with athletes and teams seizing the advantage and riding it like a wave at Granny’s Grave, Warrnambool, all the way into shore.

The current Ashes series has been a series of violent momentum shifts.

When Australia had England 3-40 on the first morning at Cardiff, we all waited for the killer blow. But Haddin dropped Root and in the time between balls you could sense a shift in fortunes. My mate texted Root 100 and when the cheeky Yorkshireman winked, shrugged and flayed his bat like a giant sword, there was no stopping him. England were hanging ten.

Michael Clarke won the toss at Lord’s and was handed the advantage in a brown paper bag. Warner threw his wicket away, but Rogers and Smith were never in trouble on that pitch and by day’s end, the Test was pretty much decided.

A week later, the Aussies surfed into Birmingham, home of Duran Duran, and the series had 1995 written all over it. England were apparently done in and petrified of the Mitchells, however came out hungry like the wolf (sorry, couldn’t resist). Things changed quickly. England grabbed momentum when Rogers played and missed at the first ball and Warner had to dive to avoid being run out, the next. Cook’s team were on their toes and by Tea Lord’s was forgotten. The Australians couldn’t handle the cold and cloudy conditions and gave catching practice to the slips. Also, as Rogers suggested later, a few didn’t show much fight.

Next morning the hosts were 7 for not many in front and Australia had grabbed the advantage. A small first innings deficit would be best case scenario. But such was the manic 20twenty speed of this Test match, a few blows by Ali and Broad brought ascendancy back to England. Australia had lost momentum for good and only the efforts of Neville took the match into a third morning.

England’s bowlers showed how momentum is linked to confidence. Anderson struggled prior to this Test, however tore through the tourists on the first day, while Finn, banished from the previous two Ashes campaigns, performed beyond his wildest dreams, taking a bag and claiming Smith and Clarke twice each. He should be swabbed.

Defending a small total, Starc bowled Cook with a beauty, only to strain too hard and deliver tripe to Bell, who only had to lean on balls outside off. When a distracted Clarke dropped him, any hope of a tricky finish was gorn.

If you owned a boozer outside Edgbaston you’d be Gutted, mate. Gutted.

So, what can Australia do at Nottingham this week to keep the series alive? First thing is not panic. If a seemingly demoralised England can turn things around quickly, so can Australia. Neither team is that good, so gaining the advantage shouldn’t be that difficult.

The main problem is with our bowlers. Except for Saturday at Lord’s when the quicks bowled with patience, choking England, Australia has been unable to build lasting pressure. Wickets have fallen, however too many four balls have been thrown down. Ryan Harris, Australia’s heart, soul and spine, methodically slid them through at off stump with a bit of sideways, allowing Johnson to bring chaos from the other end. The hole Harro has left is huge. Perhaps Siddle can come in to hold down an end at the expense of Hazelwood, who would be slightly stiff.

The injury to Anderson may prove to be the difference in this series.

There’s no need to shuffle the deck chairs in the battling line-up. Rogers continues to be as reliable as a clock (I could seriously marry him). Smith was the Best since Bradman after Lord’s and will be kicking himself at how and to whom he got out at Edgbaston. Fingers crossed, Warner will eventually convert a start.

Yes, Clarke is out of form, but a week ago, this was hardly a talking point. He needs to man the feck up, stay at four, and offer the inexperienced Voges some protection at five. Swapping the two, or even dumping Voges for Marsh, would be the wrong move. Too many batsmen have been sacrificed in order to protect the captain from the new ball. Neville has blocked out the noise and so far proven himself.

Most of all, Australia has to hold its catches.

The Ashes are far from lost and Australia must stay the course. England holds the momentum at the moment, but this series has shown how quickly and decisively things can change.




  1. Well written Andrew. I see a similar series to 1972 on the cards: possibly. Both sides are fairly evenly matched, with superiority going by session, or day. Neither side can boast a settled 11, with a combination of form and injuries being a factor. It might come down to who can hold their catches, and we’ve missed some costly ones in the series, the howler being Haddin’s drop of Root.

    Re Haddin i can’t see any point in recalling him re his contribution to the 11, the only reason you’d consider bringing him back is the truth of his dropping is causing disunity in the ranks, with that being another story in itself. His form does not merit a a recall, but then if Clarke was not captain his form would not merit a spot in the side.

    Two evenly matched teams; good sides at best. A fitting result would be a 22 result like in 1972. Let’s see how it pans out.


  2. E.regnans says

    Good calls A Starkie.
    Selection points I agree with.
    But the moving ball has been the biggest problem, I reckon.
    No swing (or seam) at Lord’s, and that was that.
    Once it swings we’re cactus.

    Anderson injury huge.
    I think Broad is a Notts player isn’t he? Home ground may help him.

    Maybe it’s that neither team is solid- Makes for interesting shifts, as you say, in momentum. Can’t look away.

    Rogers is mine.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Haddin’s dropping was a bit messy, but no turning back now.

    Anderson’s injury may determine outcome. Or, agreed, fielding. England have been better in that area.

    They bat a bit deeper, I think. ALi is important.

    Yes, moving ball under dark skies in Edgbaston was important.

    Biggest problem in Austn cricket is where have all the batsmen gone?

    E., I love Rogers more than you. Back off.

  4. If Siddle is the answer…

    Hazlewood has been on fire and needs to be backed in. The line-up of Starc AND Johnson with Lee H was always a risk. Drop Starc instead.

    At this stage I am assumingw e have to win and therefore F Ahmed is our secret weapon. So secret, the team, selectors, media and public have forgotten his 50 wickets in the Shield and 8 in a dig in the final. And forgotten that there hasn’t been born yet and Englishman who likes legspin bowling, especially that like Ahmed’s that includes a juicy googly.

    Thta means Watson AND Marsh supporting Hazlewood and Johnson, with Lyon AND Ahmed. Voges and Starc sit it out.

    Yes to the 72’s, have been positing the recall of another Watson as a catalyst for a 5th test win to make it 2-2, as happened with GD in 72. What a hero he was, best cricket ever to only play 5 tests and none at home.

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