31 December 2006

Ashes 2006/2007: Fourth Test

Dismal. Rather like after the second Test I don't feel I can adequately describe the abject failures that made up this match. Australia outplayed England from ball one - as they have all series - aided and abetted by the frankly bizarre decision to bat first in wet gloomy conditions. But English failures aside, Warne used his final Test on his home ground to show what Australia will be missing very shortly, picking up the man of the match award. There are grumblings that award could - and perhaps should - have gone to either Mathew Hayden or Andrew Symonds for their knocks in the game's one mammoth partnership that was every bit as much part of the deciding factor as Warne's all round performance, but sentiment demands that the 7 wickets and 40 runs Warne contributed be recognised.

That and he passed 700 Test wickets - with or without the "super Test" wickets, a stunning achievement, regardless of how much test wickets have been cheapened by Zimbabwe and Bangladesh of late, and made more accessible by the increased volume of cricket being played.

From an England point of view I think the only positive thing to come out of the Melbourne match was Chris Read - he was assured behind the stumps and was gritty when batting against the odds in the second innings. Not a world-beating performance but one that did more than enough to show why he should have been in the team from the off.

A side-note to the rest: in between Warne announcing his retirement and the match Glenn McGrath - as expected - formally announced the fifth Ashes Test to be his last. Two champion bowlers will bow out, in all likelihood, with a performance that helps ensure a whitewash. For all the talk coming from the England camp I just cannot see how on earth they will be able to raise their game by enough to close the cavernous class gap which has been exposed on this tour. It is also expected to be Justin Langer's final match; though this has not yet been confirmed it is expected to be his New Year's Day revelation. Good riddance to all three: wonderful players who've given England fans like me many headaches over the years, and fans of other sides too for that matter.

No comments: