Accepting having a problem is the first step towards improvement. This is what the Australians have done in the past one year. When they defeated WI 2-0 in a closely fought series the Australian captain said that his side is no longer going to roll over sides as they used to, few month before. This was a good assessment from the captain on the team which was finding it hard to replace few retired players. Australia beat New Zealand and then had the worst few months in the last decade when they were beaten both by India away and SA at home in tests.
South Africa also defeated them in the ODI’s to claim the top spot in the rankings. Australia though started experimenting with new players and quickly accepted that they have to do some serious rebuilding if they have to return to their dominating best. They did it admirably. The brought in Phil Hughes who is just 20 and Peter Siddle an unknown material in International cricket and then Hilfenhaus who played in few ODI’s before. They added Marcus North in the middle order who can bowl some useful off spinners and look where they are now.
Australia defeated the South Africans away 2-0 without the experience of Brett lee and Stuart Clarke. Ponting is now hailed as the genius who turned it around for the team from a guy who was bashed all around in the media last year and was also asked to step down. Australia back to No 1 spot in test cricket and looking impressive and I have no doubts in my mind that they will regain the Ashes.
The English though have gone the other way and currently are on a slippery slope. They are living in denial and don’t seem to be accepting the fact that they are at best No 5 in the ranking. They currently had a poor test series against a team who has not won a series in the last 5 years. The English team and the supporters though are full of excuses, blaming everything else except for themselves for the losses. England though hasn’t won against the top sides in tests since beating Australia in the Ashes in 2005.
That’s a long time ago considering the fact that they have been beaten by India, Australia and South Africa in tests both home and away. Their one day form is even worse. The problem with English cricket is that they always think they are better than what they are. They fail to give credit to the opponents and were so happy about the Australian slump last year that they forgot that they are in a bigger one. The Ashes is to start in a few months time and when we look at the progress of both the teams and we know who is clearly on top.
England fired Kevin Pieterson from captaincy after he had some sort of rift with the team members and coach. Considering that KP is only English player who is slightly different in approach from the other captains, it was a big blow for the team. They left to WI saying that it will be almost a walkover and it will be a good practice for the Ashes but what transpired in the last couple of months surely was not in Andrew Strauss’s script.
England lost the test series 1-0 and now has lost the Twenty20 badly. England has blamed everything after the test series loss and has currently lost on excuses for the Twenty20. They are currently tied in the one-day series 1-1 after they were beaten in the second game by 23 runs by the WI. They won the first game after a blunder from the WI coach who messed up the Duck-worth and Lewis calculation which handed England the game. I guess unless they accept their failure and do something drastic in the coming months, I don’t see them posing any challenge to the Aussies. Two separate approaches from two separate team managements and the difference is there to be seen.
I am thinking another bashing for the English team as they still live in constant denial. Anything other than an Australian win in the Ashes will be surprising and looks highly impossible.