The Ashes 2013: Australia is in for a meek surrender in England
It was just another day of an “Ashes series” when the hapless Englishmen were treated with extreme brutality by the ever so dominant Aussies. Sitting inside the commentary box – when asked by his co-commentator if England would ever be able to win the much celebrated bi-lateral Test series – the former cricket great and ever witty Ian Chappell jokingly remarked that it was never going to happen in his life time.
Well, that happened over a decade before, and since then the tables have turned completely in England’s favour, except for a minor blip in 2006-2007.
England won the Ashes in 1987, but it continued to elude them for almost two decades afterwards, and so they had always been tagged as underdogs. There was a time when Australia could do nothing wrong under the captaincy of Ricky Ponting and the team was doing phenomenally well in all forms of the game.
When no one expected the English to even trouble the Aussies in 2005, leave alone winning the series, Freddie Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen pulled the rabbit out of the hat by doing the impossible. That Ashes victory, which came after 18 years, finally changed the composure of the team entirely, with the team members starting to believe in themselves more than before.
However, the very next Ashes series, which was played in Australia, left the visitors crushed. The men from “Down Under” avenged their earlier defeat by ruthlessly inflicting a whitewash on their opponents in the 2006-2007 series. Little did they realise by then, that in another six years time, they would be in danger of facing the same plight in England.
Moulded well under the leadership of Allan Border two decades ago, the Aussies had been able to produce remarkably consistent performance over the years.
When Border left the scene, his successor Mark Taylor had a far better side at his disposal. He had the luxury of having young bowlers like Shane Warne and Glen McGrath, in addition to the dexterity of the Waugh brothers, who were on the right side of their thirties.
He had decent performers like Michael Slater, Mathew Elliot and at times, Greg Blewett, to open, especially in Test matches. When he retired, the baton was passed on to the senior of the Waugh brothers, who was lucky to manage a well groomed side. By that time, many aggressive players like Langer, Hayden, Martyn and Gilchrist made their way into the team, further intensifying its strength. Under his captaincy, they went on to dominate the world.
However, leading any side could not have been as burdenless as it was for Ricky Ponting, who succeeded Stephen Waugh. It was a well settled team by then, and not taking anything away from the “Punter”, he was really fortunate to lead a rare combination of such fantastically talented individuals who excelled in every department of the game.
What more one can say about a team which had managed beating “India in India” in a Test match series – something which even Waugh and his men could not do, in spite of coming closer to doing it in 2001. The Tasmanian was in charge of a set of individuals who were rated as “Invincibles” in world cricket then.