History is written by the winners and decisions can be made to look inspired or insane by events, sometimes unrelated. So what if England had lost at The Gee and yielded the series 3-1 as a result? There would be plenty of wise words for Andy and Andy…
Five things England have learned from relinquishing The Ashes
1. Behind the scenes stuff matters. As the English FA have found out in football, if there is a lack of focus off the field, you can’t expect focus on the field. Despite some encouraging signs in 2009, the madness of two years ago – Stanford millions, Moores vs Pietersen, 58 all out – root and branch reform was needed, rather than the easing into the hot seat of Andy Flower, a low profile, company man at the heart of the problems already festering backstage. Where is the big personality England need to shake up the blazers and lead the players?
Of course, Andy Flower is widely credited as the architect of The Ashes success.
2. WAGS and kiddies have no place On Tour. England have bent over backwards in organising tours to allow the players to spend Christmas with their families, so is it too much to expect these well-paid young men to concentrate on their jobs for one December 25 in four? How does dealing with kids’ tantrums as the i-pod touch fails to reboot on Christmas morning prepare a man to face Mitchell Johnson 24 hours later?
England played almost perfect cricket on Boxing Day.
3. Horses for courses selection. The ghosts of Darren Pattinson, Alan Igglesden and Martin Bicknell still stalk the corridors outside selection meetings, ever willing to knock on the door and present themselves, ready to “do a job”. The muddled thinking that brought in an under-cooked Chris Tremlett to feed cuts and pulls on a bouncy WACA, was repeated with the punt on Tim Bresnan for the MCG, discarding and demoralising Steven Finn, England’s top wicket-taker and a man in whom England have invested much in 2010.
Tremlett and Bresnan barely bowled a bad ball between them.
4. Too much invested in Swann and Anderson. After 18 months spent doing the bowling equivalent of flat-track bullying, Swann and Anderson failed to meet the ultimate challenge. Swann’s “slider” that gave him so much success against left-handers was shown by the likes of Hughes, Hussey and even Johnson, to be just a straight delivery and Anderson could get the new Kookaburra to swing. Both bowlers are happy at Trent Bridge, but Nottingham is, in every sense, a long way from Melbourne.
Swann and Anderson bowled with great skill and nous.
5. Silence the Barmy Army. It’s time for the boorish antics of the Barmy Army to be addressed once and for all by the authorities. In particular, the ECB should stop collaborating with their soi disant leaders and take steps to ensure the loutish elements cannot congregate in specific sections of stadiums. They may think that their “songs” are witty and encourage the players, but off the record, the England men say that it only serves to pump up the Aussies who were already winning the sledging war hands down.
The Barmy Army’s support is now widely acknowledged as a positive influence on England.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.