August 23, 2010

England fans should get ready for another Ashes whitewash


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

If Andrew Strauss and his team have the capacity to lose a Test match to the Ijaz Butt XI playing under the banner of Pakistan then I am afraid no force on earth might be able to save them from whitewash in the upcoming Ashes battle in Australia.

England could only be saved by rains or floods or any other natural calamity Down Under during those Test match days. The manner in which England got outplayed at The Oval there’s very little chance of them coming to terms to the Australian brand of cricket in the Ashes series due to start in just a few months time.

Even in the absence of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist, having retired after whitewashing England four seasons ago, Australia’s mental toughness remains second to none and they have faltered rarely even with their depleted outfits.

Yes Ricky Ponting’s team had also suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of Pakistan earlier this summer in England but the Aussies have played that kind of untidy cricket once in many years.

Australia’s fast bowling was at the lowest ebb in the two-Test series against Pakistan that pushed Ponting to the corner and he had to look to the part-timers for wickets in conditions conducive to seam movement.

It was amazing to watch the trio of Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus having forgotten the elementary lessons and not being able to put the ball in the right areas against batsmen who were themselves shy of attacking them.

If Ponting had to throw the ball to the likes of Shane Watson, Steve Smith and Marcus North for wickets on the Headingley pitch against the inexperienced Pakistan side it reflected total chaos in his arsenal.

I can’t recollect the Australian fast bowlers bowl as poorly as they did in the Headingley Test where they should have made up for the shortcomings and failures of their own batsmen.

Australia can’t be expected to falter again and that too in their own den where the conditions would be entirely different. The bounce of the pitches will test the England batsmen who have now been struggling to put their acts together in the home series against Pakistan.

Ponting appears fully determined not to let England escape and his recent statement of pursuing another whitewash now makes greater sense following the debacle of the hosts at The Oval.

England are currently in possession of the Ashes which they had regained at home last summer with Strauss having led the hosts to the famous victory.

Now the victorious skipper of 2009 should get ready for facing the music in 2010-11. The story might not be dissimilar to one after 2005 when England had clinched the Ashes after 18 long years.

Ponting’s fierce determination and the recent loss of confidence of Strauss could be a major factor in pushing England to the wall once more.

The England fans traveling in large numbers to Australia for witnessing the Ashes battle will have be patient as their endurance level would severely tested.


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