Thursday, 3 September 2009

Just Like Lord's

Fifth Test, The Oval: England 332 & 373-9d beat Australia 160 & 348 by 197 runs & win the series 2-1

So in this series of twists and turns, England managed to pull off a huge win to take the series 2-1. Much like at Lords, England posted a modest target first up, many people thought England were at least 25 runs under par when they were bowled out just after the start of the second day. However like at Lords, Australia were destroyed in the Friday Afternoon Session, skittling Australia out for 160 (left).

This time the chief architect was Stuart Broad who continued the form shown in the Headingly test. When he got his chance he went on to take 4 wickets for 8 runs in 3.3 overs. His final analysis for the innings was 5 for 37. I was at a wedding at the time, before the wedding I thought that England would be lucky if Australia were about 270-290 for 6 at the close especially after the start provided by the openers Katich and Watson. I checked my phone when we were on the coach and saw that England had taken 3 quick wickets and thought the match had come back to parity. When I checked again (when we got to the hotel for the reception) Australia were 8 down. Aggers comment was spot on when he tweeted “Tell you what… I reckon they’re coming home

Watching the highlights on Channel 5 a couple of days later, it was striking and a object lesson to the rest of the England seamers, how often Broad put the ball in the right places, on a good length making the batsman play and letting the ball swing. This had been Siddle and Hilfenhaus tactics all season long and had brought them dividends (Hilfenhaus took 22 wickets @ 27.45, Siddle took 20 wickets @ 30.80, Johnson also took 20 wickets but @32.55) particularly in restricting the England batsmen all summer. Broad’s session where he took 5 wickets saw him stake his claim to be the heir apparent to Flintoff.

Australia could have still got into the game, but couldn’t part Strauss and debutant Trott. They came together on 39 for 3 (England lead of 172) and put together a stand of 117 which effectively sealed the series win. After that the only wobbles came with Ponting and Hussey’s 127 run stand on the fourth day.

The statistics say that Australia dominated this series, 6 Australian batsmen made 100’s, though Strauss top scored with 474 runs (his high score of 161 at Lords is also the series highest score), while Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Johnson topped Broad in terms of taking wickets. However the Ashes were lost because this Australia side have not been ruthless enough, and have not bowled well enough. They were utterly devastating at Headingley but for most of the series the England batsmen seemed to be the architects of their own downfall. Poor shot selection seemed to be the doing of a lot of the English batsmen. The English bowlers produced 3 good quality spells of bowling (at Lords, Edgbaston on the second day and here at the Oval), and dominated the series from getting out of Cardiff with a draw to the first morning at Headingly. England deserved to win the series.

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