A Summer of Cricket

Ever since I was a young boy, cricket has been my summer. A break from school sport simply meant more time down at the nets, or chucking on the club colours. I am a passionate fan and follower, but 20 years of loving and breathing cricket couldn’t have prepared me for this summer. No one could have predicted the 12-1 scoreline the English have been sent home with. Our boys did it, and they couldn’t have made Australia prouder.

One thing I have noticed about this summer is cricket being more in the mainstream. From KFC painting stores green and gold, to chats across the bar at work, cricket has been on everyone’s lips. As much of a cliché as it seemed, when ASICS ran an advertisement saying that the English weren’t just facing eleven men on a field, they were facing an entire nation, it certainly held true in this case.

The support the Aussies had behind them just seemed to grow and grow as the summer went on. Nearly 1.7 million supporters flocked to the cricket this summer, and having been to a couple of matches, the atmosphere has been electric. There is no doubting the support base pushed Australia to the incredible 12-1 final result.

The summer has been wonderful for the game of cricket. There have been so many success stories, which have contributed to the absolute joy a belting of England brings. Mitchell Johnson, once despised and heralded as a failure, literally bounced his way back into the hearts of the Australian public. His success at ripping through the English batsmen, battering and bruising them into submission saw young kids drawing handlebars on their upper lip and banging the ball in short in the backyard, anything to emulate a new hero. Brad Haddin cemented his hold on the wicketkeeper role, after relinquishing to Matthew Wade. Shane Watson, though still an injury prone wanker, scored a big century and took the winning wicket on Australia Day. James Faulkner channeled Matthew Bevan, breaking any resolve the English had, with his thrilling last wicket stand with Clint McKay at the ‘Gabba to come from an impossible position to snatch victory. David Warner became more accepted by the public with gutsy batting and incredible fielding.

In saying that, I doubt you’d find many in the Australian cricketing fraternity who after a couple of beers wouldn’t want to punch Joe Root. James Muirhead, a 20 year old who first attended an international game by representing Australia, has shown himself to be a very promising prospect for the future with an incredible three Twenty20 games.

Even though the end result of the test series was 5-0, it could have been very different. There were many situations when it seemed England might capitalise on a defining moment in a game, but Australia always pulled through. Brad Haddin was an absolute hero for Australia. In all 5 test matches, he made 50+. Many a time this was when the English had taken key top order wickets, and Australia looked poised to post a small total. Instead Haddin rallied, often with bowlers not renowned for wielding the willow. This is where I see the Ashes having been won. When the game was in the balance, Australia always pulled through, whereas it seemed England didn’t have the mental edge to capitalise.

To put it nicely, England was rubbish. If it were any other team getting drubbed, the Australian public might’ve started hoping for some competition, or a consolation win for the hapless visitors. Instead, the Australian public couldn’t have wanted the summer any other way. Mitchell Johnson rocketing down the stuff of nightmares, typically at the lower order didn’t receive any condemnation, rather encouragement. The field that seemed to embody leg theory, nor the Aussies’ abrasive, aggressive nature of confronting the opposition, showed no quarter. It was all too much fun.

All of this though could come to pieces on Australia’s upcoming tour of South Africa. Even though there was an absolute destruction of England, frailties remain. The top order still have issues that need working out. Since the second test, Michael Clarke hasn’t offered a score of note in any form of the game. Shane Watson still hasn’t locked in the number 3 spot, and hasn’t offered anything solid and consistent which would deserve it. England was been a warm up. We’re about to face the number one test team in the world. And we’re not playing in Australia. Tune in for some great cricket.

Final score. Australia: 12 wins, 5019 runs beat England: one win, 3939 runs. This was the first Ashes series England ever lost all 100 wickets.