I haven’t offered my thoughts on Australia’s victory yet, partly due to lack of time and partly because I’m still undecided as to exactly what happened. But here are my thoughts for what they’re worth. Pretty much a ramble and a rallying-cry, but I’ve not the time today to spend any longer on it. I hope I’ll be able to reveal more about my blogging-hiatus this week or next.
Scott got me motivated to write something, when he mentions Matthew Hayden’s view of the English:
In the run-up to the game, there had been a lot written about England, and I’m not trying to be arrogant when I say this, but I don’t really care about them. We know that if we are playing to the best of our ability then England will not come close to us.
OK, yes – why should he care about the English? They performed badly in the first Test, and Australia are rightly one-nil up in the series. But it is his arrogance and total lack of respect which, in 2005, has caused the British public to have an un-rivaled hatred of the Australian cricket team. When Steve Harmison, who bowled magnificently throughout the Test, hit Ricky Ponting in the face, drawing blood, I don’t remember one Englishman coming to his assistance. Justin Langer did, of course, but English teams in years gone by would have at least asked if he was ok. Granted, English teams in the past decade wouldn’t have had the firepower to hit one of the all-time great hookers and pullers, Ricky Ponting, on the face – but that’s beside the point. The public hate this Australian team, and – as Scott points out – even at egg-n-bacon central, the public were begging for their blood.
Aussie bloggers have, on the whole, given England a better review of the first Test than the media (English or Australian). That first session was pure gold for the fans, even for Australians I bet. Years of drubbings had even caused the Australian media to, at times, call for an end to The Ashes – and all of a sudden, Harmison was hitting the top three batsmen on the head (yes ok, Langer was hit on the arm, you get my meaning) and they looked shaken and scared. It didn’t last; England let themselves down with dreadful catching, and scratchy batting.
But I like to think the tide is already turning. England have lost the first Test – yup. They’re one-nil down. But, catching aside, they showed enough to suggest England will take the 2007 Ashes. Harmison rightly moved up to 8th in the world in the ICC player rankings, and no Australian batsman looked comfortable against him. This series is by no means as dead as everyone thinks; if Hayden doesn’t care about the English, I doubt the English give a damn about him or Australia. This is a fighting team, with match-winning players who will be hurting more than they reveal.