The English are back. The Three Lions have come roaring back in test cricket in sublime fashion after thrashing the Aussies in an overwhelmingly one-sided contest at the Trent Bridge. Battered and bruised, the Australians have to keep their chins up and move on, for there’s another test to be played. The Ashes is indeed about pride and England is a brutal place to play test cricket in. Time and again, teams running into its conditions lose their way and more often than not, it reaches a point of no return. Momentum is the key in English conditions; once it’s gone, England destroys opponents. India too faced their fair share of it last summer. All said and done, the Ashes is back in England. But what went wrong for the Aussies, who as a matter of fact looked out of sorts and hence disappointed. Here’s a look at some of the key individuals for both the sides, who failed to make a mark when cricket’s biggest prize was at stake.
This English opener was under the scanner throughout the tournament. Although this Yorkshireman is fairly new to Test cricket, nothing but the best is expected of an individual in an Ashes test match. Hence the opening batsman’s measly scores in his outings pummels him to make the cut on this unfortunate list. Adam Lyth averaged just 12.27 in his 7 outings so far in the Ashes with his highest being 37 at Cardiff. There was a lot of hue and cry in the British media about dropping him after the second test itself, but his inexperience prompted the management to give the opener another go, but so far it hasn’t worked.
Another top-order English batsman and a Yorkshireman who was under the scanner even before the Ashes started was Gary Ballance. The opener had already had a difficult year in test cricket, after impressing initially in the longest format of the game. The southpaw had a decent outing in the West Indies prior to the English summer, but encountered a difficult New Zealand series at home, where he averaged 9 in two test matches. However, he was picked for the Ashes and an opportunity presented itself, but the number 3 batsman failed to make an impression as England lost at Lord’s and was thereafter dropped for Jonny Bairstow.
15 months ago, Mitchell Johnson terrorized the English in the Ashes in Australia becoming chief architect of the whitewash down under. A lot was expected from the speedster, but he somehow failed to deliver the goods. He looked out of sorts from the onset, recovered well at Lord’s but failed to keep up his game. His ‘hit the deck’ bowling just wasn’t good enough in the English conditions, as he went for plenty in the heavy defeats at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. Just by the sheer reputation the speedster carries, his Ashes performance is considered a disaster.
The burly Shane Watson hasn’t impressed in the longest format of the game for over 2 & a half years now, and his eventual axe after the Cardiff test match looked inevitable. The batsman, initially tried as an opener, had serious problems with his front pad coming in the way, making him an LBW candidate. The problem seemed to look a touch rectified in the Ashes at home, but after he fell to the same mode of dismissal in the Cardiff test, the team management was convinced that the powerful right-hander isn’t ideal for the seaming English conditions and was immediately replaced by all-rounder Mitchell Marsh. Watson’s ineffective bowling didn’t do much to help the all-rounder’s spot either.
Arguably facing the lowest point of his glittering career, Pup (Michael Clarke) has by far been the biggest flop of the Ashes so far. The batsman was a run machine for the Aussies over the years and played key roles for his country as he achieved the ultimate multiple times. But all good things come to an end, and so does this great’s glittering career.
Clarke was already seeming to have a horrific Ashes, when the Australian skipper vented out his frustration at himself as his side went down in Edgbaston.
“I think it’s always going to be hard to beat any opposition when they’ve got 11 and we’ve only 10,” he had said. “At the moment that’s how it feels. With my performances so far I certainly haven’t led from the front like I’d like to do as captain. I’ve always made that very clear, that’s a big part of my role as leader of this team that I’m scoring plenty of runs and leading by example.”
After the Trent Bridge debacle, Clarke tried defending his team’s approach but there’s nothing a captain can do after his team gets bowled out for 60. Clarke himself went after a leaving delivery which was well taken by his counterpart Alastair Cook. Michael Clarke walked back to the pavilion, he had indeed had a miserable Ashes.