Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Ashes '10

I managed to watch some of the last test match, a few early morning beers with my brother in Wakefield enabling me to catch a bit of play. Unfortunately, I haven't seen or heard anything of last night's action, just read about it today - it sounds like another good day for England. What does strike me, though, is just how muddled the Australian selection process has been during the series. I couldn't believe they dropped Hilfenhaus after the first test - he was their best bowler by a country mile in England during the last Ashes, and only injuries, it seemed to me, prevented him from cementing himself in the side subsequently. It appears that the Australian plan for him after recovering from those injuries has involved giving him a couple of games back to get his rhythm again, and then, after seeing him get thrashed around in a test where no bowlers exactly covered themselves in glory, he was dropped. And dropped in preference for a bowler, or bowlers, whose sole criterion for selection over him was that they weren't playing in the first test. Then, however, the Australian selectors really showed their credentials as elite sporting strategists; a lot of analysts and journalists saw the selection panel doing exactly the same thing after the second test as yet more proof that they had lost any semblance of a clue that they might have once had. They were in disarray; recalling Mitchell and Hilfenhaus, and dropping Bollinger and Doherty. But I took a different view - I personally admire their consistency in pursuing a policy of devout inconsistency. One game, boys, and you're out. Then you're in again. Then out. Then in. Then it's all over. It is a policy that has been honed to perfection in English elite sport for generations.

The only thing I hate about this series so far is I can see Warne and McGrath's smug faces as they watch just how important they were to Australian cricket. Those two always win, no matter what happens in the grander scheme of things. In '05, Warne was the best player in the series, no matter what those Andrew 'Fredbull' Flintoff® DVDs tell you. And McGrath's injury probably played a bigger part in the outcome of the series than two or three England players contributions did. Somehow, even if Australia lose, their stock rises. And Liz Hurley as well...? Well, when you're hot, you're hot...