07 December 2006

Ashes 2006/2007: Second Test

One word: disbelief. I've calmed down enough to give an opinion on this debacle now, but only just.

Only England could lose the Test from that position, and lose it they did. 97 ahead with just one second innings wicket down at the beginning of the final day and they managed to lose 9 wickets, score next to nothing, and concede the runs required for Australia to win (by 6 wickets).

Speechless. An astounding result, and one that confirms that Australia will win back the urn at the first time of asking. I am not going to elaborate too much on this result; the issues are pretty much exactly the same as they were at Brisbane - after all the same personnel were playing for both sides. Picking negative bowlers because they can bat a bit is never going to win Tests. And when that bowler drops the opposition's in-form captain on 35, bowls nothing of note and bags a duck in one innings. When the "better batsman" of a keeper manages to fail again after being picked for ability and temperament with the bat (out chasing a very wide ball as the side were collapsing). These are sure fire signs there is a cancer in the England set-up that goes far beyond a lack of confidence.

An old-boys network of coaches favourites, no matter how out of form (or ability) they are, a blank refusal to accept decisions were wrong, misjudged or the cause of the crisis... all of these things plague England's Ashes tour. As an England fan I can no longer in good conscience support the coach. I am surprised the calls for Fletcher's head aren't louder and clearer, from higher up the chain than armchair fans like me. Unless there is a more dramatic turnaround than could possibly be imagined (to wit: England retain the Ashes), if he survives the series then the ECB are cheating the public more surely than they did when assigning Test match TV rights to BSkyB.

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