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Ashes 2017, a story of English nightmares and sleepless nights

Australia reclaimed the Ashes after beating England by an inning and 41 runs in third Test to take 3-0 lead.

Written by Vedant Jain | Mumbai | Published: December 18, 2017 8:06 pm
Ashes won by Australia Australia celebrate after winnning the Ashes series against England. (Reuters Photo)

Jet lag: a sickness. Brought on by time zones and in-flight movies. 3am IST, 5 hours to the start, sleep now would be too risky, might as well just be up all night.

***

Having grown up watching Ponting, Hayden and Gilchrist, Lee, McGrath and Warne tear into my beloved home team, the heart yearns to see the horrid Aussies getting vanquished. An Australian Ashes defeat at home would do wonders for my jet-lagged soul.

And so I hoped. England bat first. Stoneman is steely, Malan and Bairstow are brilliant. Vince and Root throw away starts, but no harm done. But that’s the tragedy of being an England supporter. Momentary solidity is all that this England team offers. A year-long attempt to drive their fans insane. 384/4 becomes 403 all out. Not nearly enough on this track. For the line-up dubbed the deepest in Test cricket, England are surprisingly eager to give away their lower-order wickets.

Steve Smith and fellow Australia players celebrate Ashes win Steve Smith (R) captained Australia to regaining the Ashes. (Source: AP)

And then it began. Steve Smith, you absolute monster. Hours of sleep is lost, watching blankly as he piles on run after run in awkward fashion. Root is out of ideas. The wacky fields and strange tactics that slowed him down in Brisbane don’t work. Damn! Is Smith actually getting better with time? Is that allowed? Maybe if there’s one-tip-one-hand mode of dismissal when Smith is batting, he’d stop this madness.

The issue with bowling dry to Smith is that he likes to bat. A lot. When he finally let England get him out, it prompted a mini-collapse. Was there a way back here? Ha! The England fan knows better than to be lured into false hope. The damage was done. When you let Mitch Marsh, who started this Test with a First-Class average south of 30.00, score a quickfire 181, there’s rarely a way back. As if on cue, the earth opens up. Cracks that smiled at Smith curdled into gaping ‘Joker’ grins: the result is inevitable. The rain cannot save England. An innings and 41 runs isn’t just bad, it’s humiliating.

James Anderson of England. (Reuters Photo)

The Ashes are with Australia: they deserve to be. They have three genuine quicks, a world class spinner and a decent batting order. These things don’t just happen. Despite the tragics that whine about Australia’s dearth of First-Class talent, the Sheffield Shield is a tournament that develops talent like no other. The same cannot be said about the County Championship. It is a clear case of upside-down priorities. In an age where England have tried just about everything to shore up their white ball teams, their Test team is a house in poor repair. In the last four years, they have a win-loss ratio of 0.769 in Tests: a sign of changing times. The stoic guardians of cricket’s traditional core aren’t faring poorly in Tests because of a lack of funds, but because they aren’t really trying.

Ashes 2017, Ashes 2017 results, England vs Australia, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow England, England tour of Australia, sports news, cricket, Indian Express Jonny Bairstow’s 119 helped push England to 403 on day three of the third Test. (Source: Reuters)

***

As Jimmy Anderson ducks and weaves in a shoddy attempt to save a lost Test, I curl up in bed. It’s 1pm, but for me, a week of sleepless nights is drawing to a close. Dreams of a miracle Stokes-return fade to another English nightmare. Wake me up when December ends.

The author tweetes @vedant15498

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  1. D
    Don Bradman
    Dec 20, 2017 at 10:10 am
    You seem to be confusing Nathan Lyon with Shane Warne, Clarrie Grimmett, Bill O Reilley, Richie Benaud, Stuart MacGill, Hugh Trumble, Geoff Palmer, John Iverson Bert Ironmonger. You cant really call Nathan Lyon to be world class while degrading the all-time greats Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood Warner as decent. Unless they are drunk nobody would regard Lyon as much superior to these legends. Some blind fanatics would actually label him the 2nd best after Warne for Australia insulting the all-time great spinners. Australia certainly isn't spinners graveyard like New Zealand by any stretch of the imagination to explain his high career average. This so-called decent batting attack is the 2nd best in the world after India. South Africa is on the major decline with ABD, Plessis Amla retiring in next 4-5 years. England will also see Cook retire around the same time due to their age they won't be as prolific as they used to be in their prime making it very easy India Australia to be best
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    1. D
      Don Bradman
      Dec 20, 2017 at 9:56 am
      Are you serious about 3 genuine quicks, 1 world class spinner decent batting order you seem to be intoxicated or half asleep while writing it? James Pattinson, Mitc Starc, Josh Hazlewood Patrick Cummins are the best fast bowling attack in the world followed closely by Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander Morne Morkel for South Africa at 2nd. James Anderson Stuart Broad led England is at 3rd position. They are the best since they are the future of Test Cricket with the aging England South African attacks the likes of Steyn, Anderson Morkel in the final stage of their careers Philander no longer what he used to be, Aus will easily be the best. India would kill to have fast bowling resources as strong as these so-called decent attacks their performance overseas would improve significantly since they would finally have a bowling attack which could challenge New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia overseas actually return home triumphant.
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