It’s nearly a week since the Ashes ended, with Ricky Ponting mounting what seemed to be a reguard till the hulk, Andrew Flintoff, swooped in with a throw that put him among the all-time favourites of all England fans, and Michael Hussey making a century at the precise moment when Australia didn’t need it!
Meanwhile, last week was really busy for me, so I couldn’t really comment much on the Ashes, so here’s what I have to say about it!
The fact that England won seemed to be a travesty to everyone! I must be the umpteenth person reciting these stats like a trained parrot, but how can a team which scored 4 times the number of centuries, the team which had the most entries in the top 5 bowlers and batsmen lose to a team which, statistically, seemed inferior?
Yes, it’s true that stats don’t tell the full story, but England winning the Ashes was all due to England putting on some top-notch performances when it really mattered. Australia overslept at the moments when they had to keep their eyes open with 2 toothpicks each!
They failed to dislodge the last pair of Monty Panesar and Jimmy Anderson in Cardiff, bowled absolute nonsense in the first session of the Lord’s test and collapsed like a pack of cards in their first innings and, in the Oval, they, again, collapsed in the first innings. It was these pivotal moments that lost them the Ashes.
Looking at these takes me back to the two Twenty20 World Cup that have taken place.
In the first one in 2007, South Africa were cruising along undefeated and, in their last second round match against eventual champs India, their batting crumbled under the pressure (choking?) and they lost the match and exited the WC. Graeme Smith was incensed, no doubt, that his team had to exit after just one loss while a team like New Zealand got through to the semis even after they lost 2 matches. Smith’s boys just didn’t raise their game when it mattered and surrendered meekly to India.
Again, in this year’s WC, they really seemed to be the team to beat till the semis when Pakistan, who had lost 2 matches earlier in comparison to SA’s unbeaten record, put up a top-class performance to knock them over.
Again, Smith and Mickey Arthur, the coach, had to look back and see what went wrong. It’s simple. Again, they didn’t raise their game when it really mattered.
Therefore, it isn’t a matter of being consistent and winning most of the time, you have to win the matches that matter.
On a final note, the same happened to India in the 2007 WC when, despite being one of the favourites for the WC, got beaten by Bangladesh and exited. Yes, Bangladesh didn’t deserve to go to the next round but, heck, they won when it mattered!