Thursday, 6 January 2011

2010/11 - The Sweetest Win

Alright beating a team sprinkled with genius in 2005 was pretty special, and 2009 was a rewarding exercise in doggedly keeping at it, but the 2010/11 Ashes is my favourite England series win (I was only two when we won it in 1986/7).

To win a series down under is impressive, South Africa were impressive in doing so a couple of years back, beating an Aussie side containing broadly similar personnel, but to deliver the most comprehensive of batterings, as England are about to complete, is more than impressive.

3-1 (which it presumably will be by about 1.30am tomorrow morning), remarkably, won't quite do England justice in my book. Perth, looking back on it, seems a bizarre aberration. How did our batting lineup fold for 187 and 123 while in the other five innings they batted they averaged 510? How did the Australian bowlers take 20 wickets for 310 runs when in the other four games they managed 36 wickets for 2,554 runs? I have no idea.

The whole series has been a blast, you'd struggle to pick your best moment, but there's one that really sticks in the mind for me. It was on that epic first day at the MCG, Strauss took a calculated gamble in putting the Aussies in to bat on a juicy looking pitch and boy oh boy did his bowlers reward him. My defining memory of this series will be the celebration of James Anderson as he took Mike Hussey's wicket. Hussey had defied England's bowlers resolutely to that point and his wicket became the most prized of all. Anderson's celebrations are rarely as effusive as that one, but you sensed that was the moment he realised we would retain the Ashes, just sheer, unadulterated joy and wild arm-waving. Take a look at it here, about 1m54s into this video. Oh and I also really like Matt Prior's Ashes beard.

You get the sense that it could just be the beginning for England too, this side are young enough and talented enough to duke it out with the very best in the world and on the strength of four our of five Ashes performances, I think they'd probably beat India and South Africa at the moment.

Three of England's current top six, Cook, Bell and Pietersen could become England's three leading run-scorers of all time and they may all end their careers occupying the top three slots as the leading hundred-makers for England too. Cook especially is a tanatlising prospect, at just 26 he could have 10 good years left in him and he's already got 5,100 runs under his belt. Not to forget Strauss who with 19 hundreds and 6,084 runs is also heading for the upper echelons of those tables, though he has less time on his side as he approaches 34.

I'm sad to see Collingwood go, but its good to see him choose to go rather than be pushed. For a man who seemed to spend his entire career directly under the selectors axe, its fitting that he should choose his time to depart. He will be more tricky to replace than seems immediately obvious.

Next up (after yet another England-Australia one day series) is the World Cup, the treble of World Twenty20, Ashes in Australia and 50 over World Cup inside one 12 month period is very definitely on the cards. Then for the number one slot. I for one cannot wait.


haitchjg said...

Perth was about "focus".....too many distractions....who sanctioned bringing out the WAGS half way thru a series!! Thats the only explanation that works.

GreenJJ said...

I'm not sure I agree! I think it was more about Mitchell Johnson finding his mojo for one spell, aided by a perfect pitch for him and the breeze blowing across the ground enabling him to swing the ball into the right handers. Cricketers are not footballers!

haitchjg said...

Well I go with Occam.