Why this Ashes series was a disappointment (not just the result)

As an Australian cricket supporter, this Ashes series was a huge disappointment. After the hype surrounding the team pre-series, the Aussies failed to deliver in a series they were expected to win and win comfortably.

Looking at the series from an independent cricket lover’s perspective however, the latest instalment of the biggest rivalry in the game was just as much of a letdown.

This may seem a surprising statement given that there were five results yielded from five Tests. But it was the way that these results were achieved – and the time it took to achieve them – which would have disappointed the general cricketing public.

Two of the Tests – Edgbaston and Trent Bridge – were over within three days, but at various stages threatened to be over within two. The other three Tests managed to stretch themselves into a fourth day, but often the result was already a formality.

This meant that we saw only 18 days of cricket played over five Tests. The cricketing public missed out on an entire week’s worth of scheduled playing days. It was the shortest five-Test Ashes series in history, and is a stain on both teams.

The cricket public deserved a better display from arguably some of the best cricketers on the planet. People watching on TV and those who paid for tickets were either disappointed by the one-sidedness of the encounters or didn’t end up getting to use a ticket that they had paid for.

Australia were on the receiving end of the two three-day thrashings that took place at both Birmingham and Nottingham, but England played some pretty poor cricket themselves on the way to regaining the Ashes.

Both sides seemed totally incapable of stopping a collapse with bat in hand. Once the rot set in, it didn’t stop until 10 wickets had been lost. 12 innings out of the 18 that were played saw the batting side make less than 300 runs. Five of those innings saw less than 150 posted. Of course there were some big totals made along the way, but these made the failings all the more stark. These stats point to a couple of issues – highlighted not only in this series, but problems which could affect Test cricket worldwide.

The first problem in particular left its fingerprints all over the two smashing’s that the Aussies endured which ultimately gave the urn back to the Poms. A lack of ability against the moving Duke ball and an apparent lack of willingness to let the ball go and occupy the crease for lengthy periods was never more evident than when the visitors were humbled for just 60, with nine dismissals taking place behind the wicket. The mentality of ‘survival at all costs’ was non-existent and personified when the horrendously out-of-form skipper Clarke slashed at a wide delivery in the interest of ‘taking the attack to the opposition’. You just can’t do that when your side is five for 21.

There may be a couple of reasons for this. There is a groundswell of concern that the popularity and demand for T20 cricket has engulfed the cricketing landscape, with players chasing the lucrative riches that subcontinent competitions offer. This robs them of time to practice long-form skills, and at the same time reduces a batsman’s ability to concentrate for long periods. It looked that way in this series, anyway. This means players were found wafting and playing at balls that they just didn’t need to. It was refreshing to hear mid-series that Mitch Marsh wanted to dedicate more time to playing county cricket, rather than chasing the money that a player of his talent and explosiveness can attract from short format franchises overseas. If Australia is serious about being competitive in England, then more time needs to be committed to playing in English conditions by our Test players. Chris Rogers is the perfect case study – a batsman who has honed his craft in county cricket over a number of years, and scored 480 runs at an average of 60 over the series. It’s no coincidence.

The second issue that can be directly linked back to this Ashes series is the inconsistency of the pitches. Australia was bowled out on green, grassy monsters which whatever way you look at it, were prepared to suit the English bowling attack. These were not pitches that encouraged good cricket from both sides; they were prepared to give the home side a decisive advantage and played an undeniable hand in the results at both Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. The outcome of a Test shouldn’t rely on the surface and the coin toss. There appears to be a focus from administrations worldwide on preparing wickets that suit their own teams (Australia is no exception) and have forgotten about providing a good contest between bat and ball that lasts for five days – which brings said administrations more money from ticket sales, TV ratings, and everything else that comes with it.

Michael Clarke said it best when, after his final Test as an Australian player and captain, he said “I think Test cricket is a five-day battle. I want to see good and fair cricket for both batters and bowlers. I think that’s the way the game should be played, and, most importantly, I want to see a winner and a loser.” The cricket public does too.

In the end, Australia was outplayed in three of the five matches, and they didn’t deserve to win. But maybe next time we’ll see a Test series worthy of Ashes folklore, one where the contest between both sides may not be decided until the last ball of the fifth day. Because this series is certainly not worth remembering.

About Jeremy Hill

Devoted Hawthorn supporter and University Blacks footballer who spends more time watching, reading and writing about sport than is considered healthy. Like most people my age, I'm 20.

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more Jeremy. These matches were all decided by Day 1, in many cases, by the morning session of Day 1. If Haddin hadn’t dropped that catch it could have been us winning in Cardiff and retaining The Ashes. But would we have deserved to? Not sure what game they were playing, although one thing’s for sure, it wasn’t cricket.

    The Ashes were born of the death of Enlish Cricket. This series could have signaled the death of Test Cricket.

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    The cricket I saw was truly awful.

    Agree with Wrap.

  3. Jeremy, please don’t blame the pitches, the balls or limited overs cricket. Blame the absolute lack of technique of every single player on display. Prior to the mid eighties cricket was taught as a side on game. That has vanished for reasons too complicated to explain. We started it and the rest of the world followed. Now we have a proliferation of front on bowlers who don’t swing or turn the ball and hundreds of batsmen with a massive gap between bat and pad.
    They were taught to do that before they were 12 and no one knew any different to correct it. By the time they get to first grade it is ingrained in them and they will play like that forever more. Because of this they all play second rate test cricket and we miss a week of cricket in a series.
    If you have perfect technique you can play any form of the game successfully. It’s just a matter of a change in tempo. Nothing in the basic rules is different. Because the batsmen don’t have the ability to thread the field like a Chappell, a Tendulkar or a younger Ponting they have to invent shots. Because the bowlers don’t have control over line and length and they can’t swing the ball or bowl with loop, drift and good turn they have to invent silly balls. One year in IPL, Sachin scored about 650 runs and only hit one six. For the other 644 he just threaded the field.

    We have to get back to teaching our kids side on cricket. Only then will we see a return to the game we love. I t could be a long, long wait.

  4. Besides the quality of the cricket and massive margins, I just think we play the Ashes too often now.

    It’s a bit like running the Melbourne Cup twice a year, it would lose its lustre.

    There’s not enough time to stew on losing it or bask in the glory of holding it.

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