Thursday, June 16, 2005

TOO EARLY TO REJOICE

The surprise win by England over Australia in the 20-20 match has certainly managed to raise the hopes of the English for the forthcoming Ashes and the Natwest trophy. The latest defeat of the Aussies at Taunton would surely make the English think about turning the tables.Yours truly thinks that this is something over which too much is said and written about. In recent years, the English have not been able to do much in the Ashes except winning test matches long after the series and the famous urn were retained by the team from down under.In 1989 it was the English who won the ODI series and we all know what happened to the test series. Much worse when in 1997 England won the ODI series 3-0. Of course, there were some flashes of brilliance by some of the English cricketers. Few can forget the way Michael Vaughn batted the daylights out of the Aussies including the great McGrath. There was also a fantastic knock by Mark Butcher to win a test. Then there were some heroic bowling efforts from Gough and Dean Headley.

I certainly don't wish to underestimate the talent or the commitment of the English. But one has to remember that in recent times the losses suffered by the Aussies are more due to their overconfidence and not for the efforts of their opponents. During the time of Mark Taylor, they seemed to lose interest once the series was decided in their favour. Even the cool Steve Waugh made a declaration in Calcutta overestimating his bowlers. But then few could argue otherwise after the dismal batting of the Indians in the first innings of that famous test. It is not everyday that miracles of that proportion take place.

It is true that the English bowling looks much better this time with people like Harmison, Jones,Hoggard etc. But they are prone to injuries at crucial moments in battles against the old enemy. Flintoff might cause a few shocks but comparing him to the legendary Ian Botham is odious to say the least. 'Beefy' had something special in him to settle scores with the Aussies. In the batting department Trescothick seems to be no match to the wiles of McGrath and Gillespie. Vaughn is not the same player as in the last Ashes. Strauss is untested against the best bowlers. Finally, there is the spinning threat coming from Warne.

It is one thing to beat teams like Bangladesh in two and half days in successive test matches. It is an entirely different proposition against the Aussies. McGrath and Warne are probably on their last trip to the Old Blighty. They would surely want to make it more memorable. So watch out. It is too early to talk about the Ashes returning to England. Lest we should forget that the victory of Somerset was made possible by the splendid batting of Graeme Smith and Jayasuriya who cannot play for England. One swallow does not make a summer.

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