Sunday, November 24, 2013

The signs pointing to Australia's resurgence were there across the summer Ashes series.

Australia's comprehensive win in the first Ashes Test Match at Brisbane was underpinned by their losing, according to my analysis, only two of the 14 sessions that were played over the four days. These were the afternoon session on the first day when in their first innings they fell from 71-2 to 153-6 and the first session of the final day when England scored 74 runs for just one wicket. That second “lost” session didn't really matter (and Australia did get Pietersen’s wicket in it) and the first lost session was followed by the Haddin/Johnson partnership which, as it turned out, set up Australia's winning chance – which they grabbed with both hands! So the final score in this Test match was Australia 6 sessions, England 2 with three being drawn.

England's eclipse will have come as a surprise to many but analysis of the summer series in England shows that it was actually far closer than the 3-0 (nearly 4-0) match score result suggests. My own session by session analysis of the 62 sessions played actually gives 27 to Australia, 26 to England with 9 drawn. Clearly if this is right England must have had some stellar match-winning sessions – which they did. But the idea that England was dominant through the summer is wrong.

Australia were within 15 runs of winning the First summer Test and they won  6 of the 14 sessions to England’s 4. They were blown away in the Second Test at Lord’s but still won 3 of the 12 sessions to England's 9. Australia absolutely dominated the Third test winning the sessions 9-2 (two draws) and were only denied a win by the Manchester weather. The Fourth test was also close on a session basis (6-5 to England with one drawn) and only Stuart Broad’s brilliant bowling at the end won for England a game Australia could well have taken. And the Fifth test at The Oval was also tight (England 5 Australia 4 – two drawn) but Australia bossed most of the match until the generous declaration which almost gifted England the match.

So England’s 3-0 Test series win in 2013 was something of a travesty of a result. It could, and probably should, have been a much closer. England did mostly win the big sessions but over the five Tests they were far from outplayed.

The dominance of Australia at Brisbane and England’s dreadful performance in scoring just 315 runs across two completed innings was a surprise but that Australia won was not. The pointers were there in the summer.

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