The SportingJournal

A positive spin on Australia’s Ashes campaign

In what was dubbed the most anticipated series in living memory, just like the previous 30 Ashes contests, Australia have in the most unlucky fashion been trumped by England in the first two Tests. Australia’s side need not worry though, because hey, we’ve got Boof sitting up on the balcony tucking into a toasted cheese sanga; she’ll be right. The fact that Bradman’s side in 1936-37 are the only side in 131 years to bounce back from 2-0 down in an Ashes series means diddly squat. Australia has a number three as potent as the boy from Bowral in Usman Khawaja. A first drop who was extremely unlucky to get a top edge off a turning, good length delivery from Graeme Swann. There is no need for panic in the Australian dressing room.

_S5U5299The malignant melanoma of the Australian cricket side, Shane Watson, and his partner in not batting time, Chris Rogers, are the odd couple of the team. Watson’s resourceful and powerful stroke play for the first 30 runs of his innings reflects his talent and secures his place in the side. With two centuries in 79 innings Australian selectors must secure Watson’s services for the pure fact that he may squeeze reach three figures before the Olympics in Rio. Statistics reveal his conversion rate from 50 to 100 runs is 9.5% – the same conversion rate as Willie Mason from the sideline or Sam Stosur at Wimbledon. Although the adopted New South Welshman has been adjudged LBW in 24 of his 77 innings, the most of any batsman in the long format, there is no need for concern. The century he scored back in 2010 is still fresh in the minds of those within the Aussie camp.
Rogers, who has plundered nearly 20,000 first class runs at a tick over 50 deserves his chance. The waist high full toss he misjudged, as well as the arm ball from Swann that knocked his castle over will be minor blips in a stellar test career. Word is that Simon Katich is thrilled that his gritty and dogged approach to run-making is being overlooked for a man who before this series played his only Test back in 2008. The reality is Michael Clarke needs someone who he actually likes at the top of the order.
Cowan or Khawaja? The age old question. A bit like asking whether Ponting or Langer should bat at three. Chappell or Chappell? Some fans would prefer to sprinkle some fairy dust and bring back Michael Bevan or Brad Hodge. There’s no point. Both left handers, both bred in Sydney, both inconsistent at the best of times. But hey, keep them there for long enough and they’ll get some runs won’t they? Khawaja’s second innings fifty at Lord’s has completely restored faith in the number three spot. Mind you, the video analyst has permanently deleted footage of Khawaja’s attempted slog down the ground which barely made it past the 30-meter ring. And the clip of Cowan nicking a ball wider than Steve Harmison’s loosener in the Brisbane Test in 06/07. Moving on.
Phil Hughes has showed tenacity but when the seam is standing upright. Whether it is delivered at 80 kilometres an hour or 80 miles an hour, he seems to disintegrate. The team psychologist has been spotted on rest days pulling out the black leather couch for Phil to sit on and deal with the memories on those Indian dustbowls a few months ago. Michael Clarke’s back is no better than Jeff Thomson’s, but when it comes to positivity, there is no one that can top Pup. A leader should show poise in tough situations, and it will be Clarke that will cop the brunt of negativity if Australia do get whitewashed. But they won’t. Surely.
Steve Smith’s three wicket haul may well be a career highlight, while Brad Haddin’s glovework has been efficient. For those wondering why Haddin opted to not dive for two critical catches, it was because Shane Watson made a yo’ mama joke to Clarke at slip. Haddin is also proving to be a great diplomat in the slips cordon, having to deal with more hostility than the Cold War.
The quicks: Harris, Starc, Pattinson and Siddle have been top shelf. They’ve toiled hard when they’ve been asked. Stayed patient. Done what they had to. And yes, they’ve bowled well too, not only their batting.
19-year old Ashton Agar must still be on cloud nine. Women want their babies named after him, Grannies want to play lawn bowls with him, #ashtag trended on Twitter like nothing else. His 98 on debut was something which suggests he has a long playing future ahead of him. Not many people know that half his match payments were donated to the third umpire who failed to spot Agar’s foot clearly ON the line when Matt Prior whipped the bails off. Good one umpy. In essence, it doesn’t matter if Agar doesn’t take another wicket for the entire series. His bowling average is 124, but that could peak at 500 and nobody would care. He’s been the success story of our campaign. The new dark haired, skinny, left-arm orthodox version of Shane Warne. Yes. A champion in the making.
Aussie fans. All hope is not lost. Put your life savings on the boys down under to return the urn.
**Article may contain traces of sarcasm

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