Not sure how I feel about this one. It was always fairly inevitable that Australia would hit back at some stage and it has come as no real surprise to me, on this blog I have regularly urged caution about writing the Aussies off.
So what has really happened in Perth? Have England been crap? Or have Australia been excellent?
Mitchell Johnson produced a magnificent spell of bowling and Mike Hussey continued on his one man mission to hold the Aussie batting together. There is an argument that England have just been hit by a world class batsman and a bowler who when he clicks is a world beater on his day.
I wouldn’t argue too much with both those opinions.
But are those two performances really enough to put Australia in the position they now find themselves in? I don’t think they are.
For me, Australia needed a good bit of help in getting themselves from 69/5 to being over 300 runs ahead with only England’s tail left to bat. Unfortunately England provided that help.
Our intensity dropped off with the ball late on Day 1 allowing Australia’s tail to get nearly 200 runs, it’s unusual for the bowlers as I believe they are the more reliable department of the England team. Then we were blown away by Mitchell Johnson and punished by Mike Hussey, before finally surendering meekly with the bat at the end of Day 3. The standard of bowling on show from Australia this morning dosen’t justify England ending the day on 81/5.
There was always going to be a levelling off in both sides performances, England have been overperforming, while Australia underperforming. But I had hoped it wouldn’t happen in quite the spectacular way it has.
Even after throwing away the great position we got ourselves in on Day 1, we still had a slim chance of putting it right in the 4th innings. What followed with the bat is what really disappointed me the most.
It was like the England of old. I know it sounds harsh, but I thought it was a spineless batting performance, we’ll be lucky to pass our poor 1st innings score. The pace bowlers flogged themselves and yet again have been let down by the batsmen.
My main reservations before the start of this series was our batting. I don’t (and never have) believed it is as good as we are continually told it is by the likes of Geoff Miller and the Sky commentators, all anyone needs to do is look in the record books. It’s there for all too see.
Despite all this, I still believe we can retain the Ashes. Australia aren’t that good, and England aren’t this bad. There will probably be a real contest now over the remaining two tests and the Ashes will probably be decided over a couple of key sessions or individual performances.
England have shown before they have the character to bounce back. They will now need to show this character if they don’t want to throw away the best chance on an English victory down under in a generation.