The Ashes, which till couple of weeks back was looking totally one-sided, has suddenly come alive. And, a lot of that has been due to some exceptional determination from the Aussies under pressure. Having lost the opening two Tests, and on the verge of being written off by one and all, Australia have made nothing short of a sensational comeback. Even though England may have already retained the Ashes courtesy the 2-0 score line, the series is still very much alive. Guess, it is time to say welcome back Australia.
Though the Aussies have shown praiseworthy application in the last two Tests, it must be said England have played their part in allowing the visitors to fight back into the series. Their batting, in particular, has struggled, rather surprisingly since they have some high-quality batsmen in their line-up. A closer look at some of the scores by the top Englishmen batsmen, and you will understand what we are up to. Starting with the skipper, Alastair Cook has not got a single hundred in the series yet. He has got three half-centuries, but has only managed a highest score of 62. Apart from being the leader, Cook is also the opener, which is why much more is expected of him.
Jonathan Trott has been an even bigger disappointment. With just one half century to show and two ducks in the series thus far, he has looked completely out of touch. Being England’s dependable number three bat, Trott’s role was to anchor the innings, but he has clearly failed to do so. Further while Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root have each got a hundred each in the series, they haven’t shown the consistency to give England the desired confidence out in the middle. While Root got 180 of his 258 runs in one innings, Pietersen hasn’t done much apart from a century and a half-century.
If at all, England find themselves at such a comfortable position during the series, it has been because of the supreme form shown by Ian Bell. With two superlative hundreds in the opening two Tests, and two half-centuries to go with it, Bell has been the backbone of the England batting for a change. It thus wasn’t surprising to see them collapse when Bell had a rare failure in the first innings at Chester-le-Street, a bad shot that Bell sometimes comes out with out of the blue.
There was a stage in the series, when Australians were struggling to get hundreds. They went without one in the opening two Tests when Bell alone got two. Aussie skipper Michael Clarke however showed his team the way at Old Trafford, and since they haven’t looked back. Clarke got great support from Steven Smith in the third Test, and at Chester-le-Street Chris Rogers has stood up to the challenge with a painstaking ton. The Aussies may not be able to retain the Ashes. But, one thing’s for sure, they will go down fighting.