“It’s past time for England to stop acting as if the urn was just stolen from their back pocket by a thief in the night,” argues Ben Horne in the Daily Telegraph.
Australian won the Ashes with a little help from the weather in Manchester in a game where they felt the full force of Bazball.
Australia won the Ashes with a little help from the weather in Manchester in a game where they felt the full force of Bazball. Regardless of their position at Old Trafford as the weather closed in, they had established a strong foundation in the series with hard-fought victories at Edgbaston and Lord’s.
Ben Stokes was adamant after the second Test that England was in a solid position, focusing the mind on the need for three successive victories to become only the second side to come back from 2-0 down to win the Ashes. They won by a slim margin at Headingley, but it left no room for circumstances like those that occurred in Manchester.
So, for the fourth time in a row, Australia will have the urn, and England’s next chance to reclaim it will be in Australia in 2025–26.
“Here’s a tip: if you want to win the Ashes, don’t lose the first two Tests,” he added. “If you want to win, don’t declare too early in the first match or too late in this one.”
Daniel Brettig, writing in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald, emphasized the importance of the Marnus Labuschagne-Mitchell Marsh partnership during the 30-over window of play on Saturday, in which Australia only lost one wicket.
“Of course, it had appeared after three days that England only needed another couple of hours or so to win, so downcast had the Australians looked in declining to 4-113,” he wrote. “However, Marnus Labuschagne and Mitch Marsh batted tenaciously across the 30 overs available on day four, and they always had the cushion of Australia’s victories in Tests one and two.”
“When it comes down to it, Australia played the better cricket in those first two Tests when it mattered the most.” Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, and Travis Head batted hard; Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, and Mitchell Starc bowled hard; and Alex Carey was alert to stump Bairstow with the gloves.”
Ben Horne of the Daily Telegraph was unapologetic about England’s Bazball mentality.
“It’s time England stopped acting like the urn had just been stolen from their back pocket by a thief in the night,” Horne wrote, “and pondered how they got themselves into a situation where rain at the rainiest venue in Test match cricket has blown up their Ashes comeback hopes on the tarmac.”
“There are no moral victories in top-level sport, not even when you play an attacking brand of cricket and swear your primary goal is to entertain rather than win.”
“By far the best thing about this riveting series has been Baz Ball.” It’s enthralling and wonderful. But the most irritating aspect has been England’s obsession with Baz Ball.”
Back in Australia, Gideon Haigh provided a very measured assessment of how it all played out, regretting how such an enthralling series had seen the Ashes determined by two days of rain but also raising the question of whether preserving the urn with a drawn series ought to be reconsidered.
“The fantasy of two-all going to The Oval had been enchanting to both sets of fans; only the dimmest partisans crave trophies so desperately that they are gratified by non-results,” Haigh wrote. “Unfortunately for England, a little Australian experience had already served them well in two nipping finishes, in the latter of which they played the match’s second half with ten fit men.”
“According to tradition, the Ashes can only be transferred if they are won outright by at least one Test. However, it is a mysteriously derived convention that is understood rather than codified. And I’m not sure that’s fair, given that it gives the holder a significant advantage before the teams even start, thus giving the draw a weight that favors the holder: no better illustration could there have been than this Old Trafford Test.”
Andrew Webster in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald took the same approach: he didn’t appreciate Josh Hazlewood’s ‘hope for rain’ stance after the third day.
“Apparently, we’re Australians. We don’t ask for rain; instead, we pound our way with the bat, unleash pure fire with the ball, and field like Dobermanns. We don’t keep things. We understand. We hoist objects.” We grab a stump and thrust our hips dubiously, as Warnie did at Trent Bridge in 1997,” he wrote.
“But if there’s one anachronistic edict that must change, it’s retaining a series simply because you’ve won it before,” he later said. “What’s wrong with calling it a drawn series when it is, indeed, a drawn series?”
Meanwhile, on Australian radio, Gerard Whateley of SEN admitted that Australia had been outplayed but soon shifted his attention to some of the reaction in England.
“Cry me a river, England,” he declared. “With the bleating coming from the other side of the world, honestly, you’d think they’d never had a Test match washed away and that the stereotyped dreary English weather had never previously aided the home team’s efforts… The English, like so many other characters in this book, are incredibly selective in their memories.”
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