A battered and bruised Australia were thoroughly outclassed as England sealed the series. A fair reflection of the gulf in class on display in these encounters would have been a 5-0 whitewash, but as that’s no longer possible the Gods of fate have decided to utterly humiliate the touring side instead. They built up this visit as a chance to land some pre-Ashes blows but have just become a punch-bag themselves as England batter this new side to a pulp.
It’s quite difficult to judge how good this England side actually is. This victory was their ninth in a row in this format – a quite startling stat, given where they were after the World Cup – but they seem to have cruised home in all of them without being seriously tested. A lot of this run of success is down to the bowling attack, which looks incredibly formidable in home conditions, but their form has meant the batsmen have never had to chase a big score. No one doubts their ability to score 250-275, the question is whether they could hunt down a target of over 300 – which they may well need to do on flatter tracks in Asia. They will be happy for that to remain unanswered for a while yet.
The fielding has been below par quite often this summer – we’re not entirely convinced by Eoin Morgan’s new catching method of ‘chucking it to the ground as quickly as possible’ – and in Durham they seemed to let the game drift for a while when they should have been pressing home their advantage, but the bowling has been on another level. With every passing game it becomes more remarkable that Steven Finn can’t get in the Test side, as he again was excellent, and the constant pressure applied by the four seamers hunting as a pack is tremendous. They will back themselves to beat South Africa.
Awwwwwww no. It goes from bad to worse for Australia. Simple thrashings aren’t enough, today they went down in such an embarrassing fashion that we fully expected half the team to leave the pitch in tears. The top order has been a complete disaster: what is the point of Peter Forrest, exactly? And George Bailey? Further down, Matthew Wade makes Graham Manou look like one of the great wicket-keeper batsmen of his generation. The new Adam Gilchrist he ain’t. When you’re missing Brad Haddin’s batting, something is seriously wrong.
Not getting any runs is bad. Not getting any runs while also failing to take any wickets is so terrible that you start to wonder whether this is all an elaborate ruse. Given all the pre-series bluster about the ‘firepower’ of their attack, we can only assume it’s a synonym for ‘unmitigated shite-ness’ Down Under. Now that Brett Lee has broken the whispers are that Mitchell Starc will be drafted into the squad for the final game – assuming he manages to successfully navigate the Pennines without getting deported – while the other Mitchell will come back into the side. Oh it is a lovely time to be an England fan, isn’t it?
Lee will presumably be out, Cummins is already on the plane and Johnson has played one international in nearly a year. Shane Watson may well be missing too, after picking up an injury during his first over. His breakdown was beautifully described in the 51allout bunker as ‘his body just seemed to refuse to work. Like a horse approaching a water jump and putting the brakes on, sending its jockey flying through the air’. It’ll be some turn up if Australia manage to finish their tour with a win. The weather, as ever, may have a say, but England could well take the opportunity to rest one of the seamers and give Chris Woakes a run out. We wouldn’t be all that surprised if Stuart Meaker was given the call as well. If they’re feeling particularly cruel they’ll mock their opponents still further by letting James Tredwell have a go. Heady days indeed.