There have been many days this summer when English fans have wondered: “Is this our chance?” The Twenty20 victory against Australia; the early performance in the Lord’s Test; the win at Edgbaston. Today, though, was the day I felt the Ashes tide turning. Regardless who wins this Test, the era of Australia dominating and bullying England is now over. England are outfoxing and outplaying Australia, executing their plans with precision. It is, frankly, a complete role reversal.
Yesterday, Australia fumbled in the field, both Hayden & Gilchrist spilling simple chances – in fact there were at least five drops by them in a day. Not to mention McGrath’s delicious/painful (delete as appropriate) no-ball when he bowled Michael Vaughan. And, of course, Ricky Ponting’s arthritic captaincy. And today, as well as England bowled, Australia were at fault with their batting. They look reasonably shell-shocked, and a smidgen confused as to what is happening. They’ve had it easy for so long, that they can’t quite fathom how their opponents are able to play at this level of intensity – and nor can they believe these skilled cricketers are English.
Australia’s performance in this series has been positively English in its laxidasical attitude – English from the 1990s, of course. Back then, the “rub” never went with England – not that that was a worthwhile excuse. And, today, with Clarke’s injury, it does remind me of English performances in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Coach John Buchanan is, yet again, using fighting talk to rally his troops, but this won’t mask the changing of the guard. Even Scott is getting nervous, and his middle name is positive:
I know I should be optimistic. Normally in this situation I would not be worried at all. But I have a foreboding of doom in my heart that will not go away; if anything it has grown even more intense since I wrote this post. I so hope I am wrong.
Whatever happens, and whoever wins this Test, England have, at last, shown Australia they can not only match them, but beat them in every area of the game. Tandem, the tide is turning.