How long did it take you? Were you one of the sages fearing the worst after England failed to capitalise on a good first day at Brisbane? Was it the selection of dropped catches at Adelaide? (Incidentally, what’s the collective noun for dropped catches – a Carberry has a nice ring to it.) Or were you able to keep faith until the Ashes were ripped out of Alastair Cook’s hands over in Western Australia? Perhaps you were the foolish sort who believed that without the pressure of the series outcome, England would restore some pride with victory at the MCG? Maybe, just maybe, it took you all the way to the third – and final – day at Sydney to conclude just how big a disaster this series has been.
Things were so different back in November. Britain wasn’t under water. Southampton FC were the future of football. And England were understandably confident of beating Australia again. So were we: despite some caution – and James offering the prospect of a 2-2 draw – the chances of the Ashes being regained by the men in Baggy Greens were slimmer than Slim Shady’s anorexic brother. But what of the rest of our predictions?
In terms of the big stories of the series, there was enough in the cricket to limit the amount of off-field shenanigans that made the news – although Brisbane Courier Mail-gate (as nobody called it, thankfully) briefly threatened to overshadow things. But from the moment on Day Two at the Gabba when Mitchell Johnson dismissed Jonathan Trott, it was cricket all the way. As a result, Magpie’s attempts to belittle the Australian system, James’s mention of Fawad Ahmed (thanks to the Lyon, a rise and fall so spectacular that he didn’t even get close to selection) and Nichael’s proclamation that plain Mr Bailey will become King George all seem rather quaint. At least Matt H got things vaguely correct by naming Johnson as the protagonist of the series, though he admits that he anticipated it would be a Shakespearean rise and fall rather than a unstoppable juggernaut demolishing everything and everyone on its way to power and glory.
Let’s be honest for a minute: Shane Warne had a better series than during the first leg in England. By virtue of being Australian and not waving his cock in Ian Botham’s face shouting “5-0 you motherfucker, shove your knighthood up your urethra”, he deserves some credit. And as such, there were surprisingly few dumb things said. For the purposes of complete openness, we should also repeat Matt H’s statement that, “he (Warne) will claim Darren Lehmann is a better coach than Andy Flower because Boof doesn’t need psycho-analysts, statisticians or catering requirements.” To be fair, it’s Beer Drinkers 5 – Quinoa Eaters 3.
Meanwhile, we of course got our predictions for the series result horribly wrong, and mostly got our prediction for Man of the Series horribly wrong (Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen). Apart from Nichael who, in naming Trott and Johnson, got his prediction horribly horribly right.