From the high of winning the Ashes at home to losing the urn in Australia, England’s fortunes have seen a downward spiral in rather quick time. They came to Australia as favourites, having won the Ashes back in England 3-0 a few months ago, and had also been victorious the last time they visited Australia. This time though the hosts were better prepared, especially in the mental aspect, and outdid the Englishmen in all aspects of the game, so much so that it was difficult to believe England were the same team that thrashed Australia mercilessly at home sometime back.
The main reason why England lost the Ashes is actually pretty simple to figure out – their seniors in both the batting and bowling department have just not stood up to the challenge. It all begins with the captain, who has continued his horrid run in this series as well. Like in the previous Ashes, Alastair Cook looked out of sorts in this battle too. Cook made 13 and 65 in the first Test, 3 and 1 at Adelaide and 72 and 0 at Perth. The numbers say Cook got in a couple of times, but being an opener he should have converted those starts.
England were dealt with the big setback after the already struggling Johathan Trott pulled out of the series following the Brisbane game after having made 10 and 9 in the match. In such a scenario, the team needed the other seniors in the team to stand up and some show gumption, but nothing of that sort happened. Like Cook the rest of the batting order also failed to deliver. Their scores in the series prior to the second innings at Perth tell a story – 136, 179, 172, 312 and 251.
Kevin Pietersen, who played his 100th Test during the series, was a major disappointment. He made 18 and 26 at Brisbane, 4 and 53 at Adelaide and 19 and 45 at Perth. Akin to Cook, Pietersen also got starts but couldn’t convert them. Considering the kind of impact he has on matches, Pietersen’s failure affected England in a big manner. Ian Bell, the hero of England’s Ashes triumph back home, could not repeat his heroics. His scores in the series have been 5, 32, 72 not out, 6, 15 and 60. The common factor in the performances is that all these senior men got starts before getting out.
England’s bowling has also been shockingly ineffective in the series, also an indication of how well Australia played them. James Anderson, of whom so much was expected, rarely troubled any of the batsmen, and has managed only seven wickets over the three Tests. He even had to face the embarrassment of being thrashed for a record 28 runs in an over by George Bailey. Graeme Swann, the other big name in the bowling department, has also been well below par. Swann has only seven wickets to show in spite of having bowled numerous overs. Anderson and Swann played a major role in England’s triumph at home, so it wasn’t surprising that their failure led to that of the team’s.
--By A Cricket Analyst