Monday, 6 January 2014

5-0

So, England have lost the Ashes 5-0, and the press are looking for people to blame. Even the way we phrase it over here, that England lost them rather than Australia winning them, says a lot. It's apparently not about their bowlers bowling tremendously well, or about Brad Haddin counter attacking brilliantly in the middle order. No, we lost it, and everyone must go.

Yes, there probably will be changes made after this, but I'd like to point to a couple of things to come out of this that have been positive signs.

Ben Stokes. Let's face it, everyone has said how well he's doing. He's played four tests, and already he has both a hundred and a five-for to his name. He averaged more than any other England batsman, and looked to have a good combination of pace and persistence with the ball.

Stuart Broad. Broad led England's attack in conditions that limited Anderson. He took wickets consistently and even managed to chip in a few runs here and there.

Michael Carberry. This is probably a more controversial one, because there were commentators expecting him to be dropped for the final test, and because he has gotten out for a few low scores. But he has also chipped in with, if not world beating, then at least workmanlike scores on several occasions. Often while his team mates were getting out for single figures around him.

Scott Borthwick. And this is the one where people think I've gone insane. Geoff Boycott referred to him as a 'club standard leg-spinner', but the day I agree with Boycott's opinion on anything... no. This is a man who thinks he knows better than anyone about cricket, when his own cricketing cowardice ran to avoiding tours to the West Indies and his own average consistently counted for more than the team's success. Who has recommended that England's batsmen must bat less like one day players, when it has been Australia's scoring speed and one day players (Warner, Watson, Haddin) who have pulled them away from us.

As for his opinion on Scott Borthwick, it just isn't justified. So the Australian batsmen attacked him and hit him for runs. So what? They did that to Graham Swann, who didn't seem to have an answer. They tried it with Monty Panesar, whose answer seemed to be to tie things down a little while not taking wickets. Borthwick kept tossing the ball up, and if the Aussies got themselves out for three of his four dismissals in the final test, then at least he gave them the opportunity to. He attacked and kept attacking. With the result that he currently averages just over twenty for his wickets. He gives it a proper rip, he doesn't bowl darts, and he's not afraid to keep bowling even when people are hitting him. The great Shane Warne took 1-350 in his first couple of tests. Borthwick has 4-82 ish in his first along with a stunning catch Panesar could never have taken. He has real potential as an England player, and should be given an extended run, unless England are planning on giving Monty one last chance to cement his place. Which would be fine. I like Panesar. But Borthwick is probably the future.

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