Well what a remarkable game of the cricket to get the 2013 Ashes series underway. I’m not sure I can remember many test matches in which the momentum swung so often and so dramatically. The final winning margin of just fourteen runs was proof of a close-fought encounter, but the bare figures don’t do justice to five days of compelling sporting action.
Did England deserve to win? I think they probably did—in James Anderson and Ian Bell, they had the two players who ultimately made the most decisive contributions. Had the Australians sneaked past their target, would they have deserved the victory? Absolutely. Their performance displayed all the determination and fight you’d expect from a touring Ashes side, and to come so close but fall just a few runs short must have been tough to take, especially for Brad Haddin and James Pattinson, whose tenth wicket partnership was simply superb.
From the perspective of the series as a whole, obviously the result does make an overall Australian victory much less likely, but events in Nottingham proved that England are arguably not quite as good as has been publicly perceived, and Michael Clarke’s squad was never going to be the walkover that the media had predicted.
The Trent Bridge test suggests we’re in for a fabulous summer of cricket and I certainly wouldn’t be willing to try and guess the eventual outcome, but I suppose the game will be partly remembered for some controversial moments involving the umpires and DRS(Decision Review System).
The “what ifs” of Ashton Agar’s “stumping” —what a brilliant debut from the young man, by the way—and Jonathan Trott’s first-baller are largely irrelevant now. And as for Stuart Broad standing when given not out for the big nick that ended up in the hands of first slip, I can see both sides of the argument—the “spirit of the game” against the umpire’s decision. I always walked when I was playing (mainly because it’s hard to stand there looking innocent when your off pole has cartwheeled past the keeper), but the stakes are so much higher in the professional arena and let’s be honest, true sportsmen of the calibre of Adam Gilchrist are a dying breed.
On balance, I don’t blame Broad for abiding by the umpire’s decision—however glaringly wrong it was—and although it’s a moot point, I wonder just how many players from either side would have walked in that same situation. That said, if Broad is on the receiving end of a shocker at Lord’s, there’ll be plenty of cameras waiting to record his reaction!
The fact that the result was decided on yet another DRS review—and an overturned umpiring call—was ironic to say the least, but shouldn’t detract from a thrilling match that is further proof (if proof was actually needed) of the profile and appeal of the five-day game.
Here’s to more of the same at Lord’s...
All my own work... almost.