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article imageOp-Ed: Well played, England – Ashes victory thoroughly deserved

By Paul Wallis     Jan 6, 2011 in Sports
Sydney - In the old days, cricket was a sport. When the other player played well, you acknowledged the fact. "Well played!" was in fact a common statement. Now we have "cricket by committee and press release." The fact is England made an incredible effort.
Not so long ago Australian cricket commentators were deriding an English team which couldn't do anything right against a team full of highly experienced veterans. Now that England has given Australia a cricketing lesson, including an example of sporting professionalism of which Australia should take note, an autopsy is required.
Australia started the series of with its foot firmly in its mouth. Ricky Ponting became the instant target, responsible for all the failings of the Australian team. Australia's one and only actual cricketing achievement in Perth was seen as a return to business as usual, and the good old “she'll be right” coma set in again.
Let's get a few facts straight:
Ricky Ponting was not the only person on the team.
Bad play is bad play.
Any team making 600 off any Ashes innings is pretty bloody good.
Reasonable enough so far?
Australia could see its problems from day one. The fact was that nothing was done about these problems, and there were plenty of them. Field play was atrocious, and apparently nobody paid attention to the fact that England was obviously highly motivated and well organized.
Tactics didn't change. The Australian attack became predictable, and the result was inevitable. This was a series of self-inflicted injuries made drastically worse by what looked like amateur theatrical team politics. More effort was put into press releases than field play. This is a virtual shopping list of everything any team playing at international level is supposed not to do.
Meanwhile, England was playing brilliantly, centuries were piling up and it was becoming quite obvious which team was playing cricket and which was playing marbles. The Australian media seemed to be quite grudging in its acknowledgment of England's incredible effort, which was almost as embarrassing as the Australian performance, and one of the reasons for this article.
Australia doesn't really have any excuses. The Australian Cricket Board had the time, money and experience to put together an absolute first-class team which should have been highly competitive and at the very least tactically aware and far more responsive. Interestingly, the Barmy Army was interviewed at times, giving more relevant comments on the state of the Ashes series, than we heard from the Australian professionals or media.
There was more sage advice on Twitter than apparently found its way into the Australian squad. In short, Australia's defeat would have been thoroughly deserved, even if the team had been playing much better cricket. This was an abysmal level of professionalism from people who really should have known better.
That does not alter the fact that England produced some of the best and most productive cricket seen in the Ashes in quite some time. They produced a virtual how-to manual for their campaign, took defeat and bounced back stronger than ever. They deserved to win it as much as Australia deserved to lose it.
Maybe there is some poetic justice in cricket, after all. Anyway, well played, England.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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