… although this could have been anywhere. Both Melbourne and Sydney have their own special place in the Ashes, with the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne becoming part of the series, and Sydney turning pink to raise money for breast cancer awareness, but the cricket could have been played in a field just outside Oenpelli, and it would have made the same impact.
In what was only the third whitewash in the history of the Ashes, England was so comprehensively beaten that even the odd Australian felt sorry for the tourists. Not the players though, who continued on a high, fueled by a confidence that, over the course of six week,s had turned from slight incredulity to the sheer joy of outplaying a weak opponent. Commentators trying to keep a last glimmer of hope alive may point out that the real test for this Australian team comes with their tour to South Africa, where they will face a team that is nowhere near as out of shape as England; but let’s face it: Australia has a good team, one that needed no changes in the course of those six weeks, with plenty of players who seem to have hit a high point in their careers at just the right time. The bowlers, especially Harris and Johnson, were a joy to watch (and because history repeats itself, Mitchell Johnson can do no wrong again — until he has an off day, when the press will be at him like starved vultures). Both young and experienced batsmen had their times in the sun — Steven Smith (I know, I know. I like the guy) and Brad Haddin scored big several times. This seems to be a team that has finally got it right. Young players are coming in, well-prepared from strong domestic leagues, and nobody on the team is about to retire just yet. As for England, they too, have a young team. Their most experienced players are in their early thirties, with several years of professional cricket ahead of them. Kevin Pietersen, facing the same constant criticism as Mitchell Johnson, is now being suggested for a leading role by several experts. Several young hopefuls have been given a chance this series, although they would probably have wanted that chance in a more successful Test. Ben Stokes has been the only player the English press has been getting excited about, and we’ll see if he really is that good, or merely better than the sad rest. There will be at least another week of daily cricket reporting in the English press, a flurry of speculation, followed by endless analysis of press conferences and decisions by the England and Wales Cricket Board. I’ll spare you the details, but there will be changes, and we’ll see if they can make a difference in time for the next Ashes series.
What remains of the 2013/14 Ashes? For me, it’s memories of sleepless nights well spent, my daughter announcing that she “wants England to win,” which makes me both hopeful for her international career and worried about an intra-familiar rivalry, and almost daily giggles at the Guardian’s reporting:
There’s little more hilarious nor more British than a farce, apart from perhaps subjugation, colonisation and empire. But if farce is only the second iteration of repeating history, then really we need something more to describe to ourselves these fourth and fifth Tests, so predictably appalling as to be quite the most bladder-bothering to-do that anyone has ever seen. If only someone had told poor Job, the miserable get. 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys carried off by Sabeans? Titter. 7,001 sheep burned up by the fire of God falling from the sky? Chortle. 3,000 camels stolen by the Chaldeans? Guffaw. House of the firstborn destroyed by a mighty wind, killing your ten children? Ahhhh haaaaa haaaa haaaa, that God! What a joker!
So, eyes down for two more hours of uncontrollable mirth.
The British really know how to deal with failure.
Emma John did a great job chatting about cricket, and I’m a fan, aspiring to become someone who’s getting paid to fly to Australia to do her job. One day…
The memories of Mitchell Johnson’s pink moustache will haunt me. It’s the perfect example of how wrong the whole cute pink cancer thing has gone. Ugh.
And, of course, the adorable pictures. The inevitable best-ofs. Because we love them.
And lastly, this: