I really didn’t want to write this article; I haven’t been catching the Ashes—the war of the English roses and the Australian wattles—a tradition itself within a traditional game.
It’s not that I don’t like cricket or that I’m overly patriotic and catch mostly India games (which I do) but I simply cannot bring up any passion for watching this series.
The Ashes—on television—are a visual treat; the commentating is excellent and there’s everything very attractive about the packaging of a historic rivalry that evokes memories of battles past.
I wish Indian television were able to come up with a better presentation of the Indo-Pak rivalry but aside from the jingoism it revisits, there’s little to recommend for couch aesthetes.
The five-match series began with the Aussies favoured by one and all. After all, they were the ODI world champs and had thrashed their Trans-Atlantic foes comprehensively in the series Down Under. The pundits predicted that Alistair’s goose was Cooked.
England surprised one and all by winning the first Test. But the Aussies were out for blood in the second and prevailed in a somewhat one-sided encounter.
To everyone’s surprise, the third Test ran along similar lines. Except this time, it was the home side that dominated from Day One. The return of Steve Finn implied that England now had three wicket-taking pacers; the weakness of this side has been that the support pacers are there simply to make up the numbers; they never were strike options.
Can Finn be the Steve Harmison of this side? Remember Stevie, from the 2005 Ashes in tandem with Freddie Flintoff pushing the Aussies on the backfoot in the absence of Glenn McGrath and the first signs of what was to come once Warne and he exited the greats.
England , not too long ago, were number one; they ascended to that pole position when they beat India at home in 2011. It is a number they have since ceded to South Africa.
Can they lay the foundation for another push at that supreme figure?
The next two Tests are crucial. Has the momentum shifted in England’s favour?
Will the Aussies bite back with venom?
The urn beckons.