Saturday, 8 August 2015


The Ashes is a bi-lateral series played between England & Australia. It's history dates back to over a hundred years. The Ashes or the Urn is the ultimate crown for every English & Aussie Cricketer. It is as big as the India- Pakistan battles on the pitch & as many experts & players have mentioned it is the equivalent of the Cricket World Cup in the longest format of the game ie Test Cricket.

This series is not only followed with rigor in both the countries involved but also across the Cricketing globe.  In my view, it attracts the most crowds for any bi-lateral test series easily in a time where T20 cricket is getting lot of mileage & popularity. It is a pleasure for ardent cricket fans such as me to witness this battle. It is a fiery battle between rivals which keeps us hooked on to our couches in expectation of what the game has to offer us.

As the curtains are drawn on the ongoing Ashes series going on in England, with England triumphantly  beating Australia to regain the Ashes after loosing the Ashes by a margin of 5-0 down under in Australia exactly 599 days back.  An amazing series where one team completely outplayed the other , the Australians fell short in quality & skill against a strong English team in their home conditions.

A team effort in the first test match at Cardiff where the batsmen did the damage, especially one Joe Root who as I write this has become the Numero Uno batsmen in Test Cricket & then the bowlers put on a clinical display to give England the much needed impetus at the start of the series, Joe Root with his unconventional technique is going from strength to strength. A critical cog in England's batting order, I particularly enjoy the way he always wants to attack the bowling , his positive attitude is seen in the way the team is performing this series.

Here is a glimpse of  Joe Root's batting prowess. A talent sure to enthrall & entertain cricket lovers in the years ahead:

After going down badly at Cardiff, Australia needed to show why they where the owners of the Ashes before coming to England. They needed to put up a strong team performance & more critically play to their potential. And boy did they do that at the Mecca of Cricket in the second test match at the Lord's Cricket Ground.

After winning the toss, Australia decided to bat first & they put on a fine show with David Warner unleashing his flamboyance on the English bowlers & then Steve Smith showcasing his outstanding potential for all to see . A masterful 215 runs highlighted by some fine strokes all across the ground, he laid the platform for the Mitchell Johnson show.

Steve Smith is definetly the pillar of the current Australian batting line up . He has grown in stature tremendously over the past few years & considering he started of as a leg spinner who could bat, this progress is indeed praiseworthy.  Here is a small glimpse of what this bloke is capable of:

Mitchell Johnson went past 300 wickets in this game & with his brand of fast, agressive, hostile & feary bowling he ripped apart the English batting line up to destroy them & bring victory for the Aussies. On a good batting deck, it was necessary for a player of Mitch Johnson's experience & caliber  to stand up & deliver for his team, And he lived up to expectations bringing the horrific memory of the last Ashes for English cricket fans where Johnson took 37 wickets to annihilate England.

For people who haven't  witnessed Mitchell Johnson at his destructive & attacking  best earlier , this spell of bowling would definitely be a good watch:

The roller coaster ride this Ashes series shifted to Edgbaston for the Third Test match . Australia where looking to carry forward the momentum gained at the Lord's & the English needed to be strong mentally & deliver a good team performance in order to go up 2-1 in the series.

In a baffling move, Michael Clarke decided to bat first on a swinging, lively pitch which assisted the bowlers heavily on an overcast day. To compound Australia's woes, James Anderson England's strike bowler along with Steve Finn who came in to the side for this game wrecked havoc on the Aussies s they were able to expose the weakness of the Australian batsmen who were poking their bat to swinging deliveries outside the off stump, which in conditions such as this is a cardinal  sin.

Apart from having a very good record against his arch rival Australia, James Anderson has the amazing record of dismissing  Sachin Tendulkar, the 'Master Blaster' a total of 9 times in his test career. Below are all the 9 dismissals:

After bundling the Aussies for a very low score in the first innings , England capitalized with the bat as captain Alistair Cook struck form along with his trusted lieutenant Joe Root who just carried on his merry form. And Australia were hapless as they submitted to the overall brilliance of the English, exposing the fragility of their middle order & their dependence on Mitch Johnson who is their fear factor to deliver results all the time which is not possible.

This game was definitely ruled by bowlers who were helped by favorable bowling conditions & they made the most of it. Special mention to James Anderson  & Steve Finn who were the stars of the show who through their aggressive  brand of swing bowling completely  outclassed the Aussies to bring victory for the English.

What is amazing is how well Steve Finn bowled because one year back he was considered by English selectors & cricket experts as someone who could'not be picked in the team  because of his poor performances & his one field conduct. Finn had a big problem which was that he used to knock of the bails in the non-strikers end which disrupted his flow & rhythm pretty badly. Such was the nature of his problem that now any bowler who knocks of the bails in his stride to the crease will be no-balled!!

Below is a glimpse of what Steve Finn can deliver when he gets it right without the no-ball issue:

Australia where left high & dry post the drubbing they recieved at the hands of Anderson & Finn in the Third Test . They needed to make a strong comeback in the Fourth Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham , a critical one as the winner of this game would take the coveted Ashes urn with them.

A good news came Australia's way when the star of the third test match James Anderson was ruled out injured for this game. But boy , England didn't miss his presence for one ball at all as Stuart Broad wrecked  havoc on the Aussies to dismiss them for 60!! Yes you read that right, all out for just 60 runs!

It was a combination of some unplayable jaffas delivered by Broad coupled by some reckless shots played by the Aussie batsmen which led to them getting dismissed within 18.5 overs or 119 balls. Australia's top scorer was the extras ie 14 runs. Need I say more? It was a ridiculous display by Stuart Broad who ended up with astonishing figures of 8-15.

After this wreckage it was a matter of formality as to when Australia would submit to England's brilliance & loose grip on the coveted urn they earned last year in Australia. And that moment came today when England defeated Australia by an innings & 78 runs with a Test left at The Oval to regain the Ashes.

Stuart Broad has a knack of being very consistent & amidst his super-human display to dismiss the Aussies for 60, he surpassed 300 wickets in Test Match Cricket. A very talented & consistent bowler Stuart Broad's spell was instrumental in bringing the urn back to England.

Here is a glimpse of what Broad can do to oppositions:

To summarize, this Ashes has been really good from a viwers perspective as we got to see some fantastic batting performances coming from both sides coupled with destructive & record breaking spells delivered from the bowlers from England & Australia, not to forget the quality of catching on display.

An all round effort  by Australia in the last test match at the Oval in London made the series end result 3-2.  The match which was the last in Test Match Cricket for Chris Rogers, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin & Shane Watson( both of them who apparently didn't play the last game).

A face saving team performance which was lacking for most of the series for Australia was witnessed at the Oval to win the test match & which allowed for a fitting farewell to 'Pup'  Michael Clarke & 'Bucky'  Chris Rogers.

This Ashes series proves how testing Test Cricket can get where one team was completely & thoroughly outclassed by the other. In all fairness, Australia's fragile middle order was exposed in their three defeats for which they will need to ponder as who needs to replace the current lot & England proved how to use home conditions to your complete advantage. In all it proved once again to the critics of Test Cricket that how much ever fun you get from T20 cricket can'not beat the pulsating thrills you get from a well fought Test Series!!