rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Cricket » An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

Last updated on: August 06, 2013 13:42 IST

An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

     Next

Next

Alastair Cook's England lost a chance to complete a clean sweep over Australia and create history. Bikash Mohapatra it's one they may never get again.

It’s that fickle English weather again.

Alastair Cook’s men looked dead and buried on the fifth morning of the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford on Monday when the heavens opened, much to the home team’s relief.

Only a few balls could be bowled after lunch before the umpires were forced to call the game off. The resultant draw ensured England, already 2-0 up in the five-match series courtesy wins in the opening two Tests at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, will retain the urn.


Image: (From left) Alastair Cook, Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior applaud the crowd from their balcony
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

     Next

An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

It’ll be the third time in succession, and fourth in the last five meetings, that England had denied their traditional rivals the most cherished prize in the history of the game.

The last instance the English team retained the urn on three successive occasions came way back in 1972. And one has to go further back (to 1928-29) for the only other instance when England secured the series after just three matches.

However, behind the commendable achievement lies a colossal failure.


Image: Stuart Broad of England gestures to umpire Tony Hill
Photographs: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Tags: England

Prev     Next

An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

In the build up to the much-awaited series, there were predictions of England whitewashing their arch rivals 5-0 on this occasion.

The fact that England have a formidable side at present, coupled with the noticeable decline in Australian cricket, had led experts go as far as predicting a 10-0 result for Cook’s men -- with the return series starting in November, advanced keeping in mind the 2015 World Cup.

It is imperative here to mention that the English team has never completed a whitewash over the Australians. Both the clean sweeps recorded in Ashes history belongs to the Australians -- Warwick Armstrong’s side in 1920-21 and Ricky Ponting’s team in 2006-07.

This was probably England’s best chance.


Image: Michael Clarke of Australia looks on with Steve Smith (right) as Stuart Broad and Matt Prior of England pick up more runs
Photographs: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Prev     Next

An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Coming into the series Australia were down in the dumps. Their batting in complete disarray following the retirements of stalwarts Ponting and Michael Hussey, the lack of form of Shane Watson and the penalty imposed on David Warner for punching Joe Root -- the batsman was sent to Zimbabwe to play for Australia ‘A’.

Michael Clarke’s team was still smarting from the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of India earlier in the year, while England were high on confidence, having beaten the same opposition in their backyard late last year.

The return of Kevin Pietersen further bolstered England’s prospects. It seemed a lost cause for Australia.

However, it was the visiting team that played above expectations in Nottingham. It took the brilliance of James Anderson to dig England out of the hole and ensure them a narrow win.


Image: Australia's captain Michael Clarke (left) signals to review the umpires decision as he stands with Brad Haddin on the final day of the third Ashes Test
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

Prev     Next

An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

At Lord’s, though, the home team got its act right, thumping their rivals by a massive 337 runs. With England 2-0 up and Australia down with six straight Test defeats – their worst show in over 30 years -- a whitewash seemed a distinct possibility, a realistic target so to speak.

However, England again messed it up at Old Trafford.

Apologies, it was in fact the Australian team that did its best to avoid the ignominy. It was their never-say-die attitude that witnessed them mounting a serious challenge in Manchester despite being low on resources.

Clarke led from the front with a majestic 187, and the bowlers then got into the act, as the visitors put themselves in a winning position. With the home team chasing 332 to win on the final day, and three of their top batsmen -- Cook, Jonathan Trott and Pietersen -- back in the hut with just 37 runs on the board and two sessions left to play, an Australian win seemed inevitable.


Image: Australia's Michael Clarke (left) gestures as he talks with umpires Marais Erasmus (centre) and Tony Hill
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

Prev     Next

An urn retained, an opportunity lost!

Prev     More
Prev

More

The weather gods, albeit, had other plans, conspiring to save England the blushes.

As things stand, Cook’s team may have retained the urn but have lost the edge they had over their opponents.

After having had Australia in their stranglehold, they lost the grip and let their advantage slip. Clarke’s team will now approach the next two Tests – at Durham and The Oval -- with renewed hope, their effort at Old Trafford giving them enough confidence to try and level the series.

England, on the other hand, will be smarting from the opportunity lost; with talks of a whitewash is now a chimera.

The urn is theirs for the third straight time, but Cook and his team will be aware that this was an opportunity to run over their arch rivals, an opportunity to complete a clean sweep and an opportunity to create history.

It’s an opportunity that they probably will never get again.


Image: England's Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad (left)
Photographs: Phil Noble/Reuters

Prev     More