Result: England won 3-0
Ashes to ashes, urine to dust. That was England’s motto by the end of the Investic Ashes 2013 at the Kennington Oval in London- a series they dominated to extend their unbeaten test streak to 13.
A recap of the five tests will show that Australia did have their moments, but fell prey to the truly big moments, the pressure points- an area that was once their strength and source of their ruthlessness for over a decade.
Trent Bridge, Nottingham
Result: England won by 14 runs
This was the test that could have defined the summer. The Australian test team, already under heavy scrutiny, almost shocked the world with a brazen display of guts and relentlessness. It was Ashton Agar who announced himself on the big stage with a blazing 98, and his team derived great inspiration from his first innings assault. They came within 14 runs of an unlikely victory, after scaring the hell out of an England side that couldn’t buy the final wicket in both innings, until Brad Haddin nicked one behind to end the contest. It was a match that could have been the beginning of an Ashes for the ages- where England would have to come back in the next test. But as luck would have it, that was never to be. From here on, Australia had exhausted all their fighting qualities in 5 days. This was also the storm before the storm as far as the highly controversial DRS was concerned.
Result: England won by 347 runs
As was expected, Australia rolled over and played dead for 4 days. Their batting was such a disastrous display of atrocious shots and bad temperament, that Warner- a villain only a month ago- was fast tracked from ‘A’ cricket in South Africa for desperate measures. Joe Root’s tremendous second innings 180 along with Bell’s continuing silken form proved to be too much for the Aussies- who folded for 128 in the first innings, after which there was no turning back.
Old Trafford, Manchester
Result: Match drawn
Finally, Michael Clarke rose to show his baffled batting order a path ahead. Starc was back in the team after shockingly being dropped for the second test- team selection being another grey area that defied logic- and Australia compiled a healthy first innings 527. This was their chance. After yet another Trott failure, a KP special lit up the ground to rescue England and avoid the follow-on to 368. A quick 172 in the second innings and the stage was set for a pulsating chase on the fifth day for a defensive English team. Unfortunately for Clarke and his men, rain saved the blushes and the series for England- a cruel twist of fate that denied Australia their first victory in 7 tests after having England on the mat with 3 early wickets.
Result: England won by 74 runs
This was a match Australia should have won, unlike the first test- where they ALMOST extracted victory from the jaws of certain defeat atleast twice. They may have felt hard done by in the third test, and it showed, with their spirit collapsing faster than the West Indian middle order while chasing a very gettable 299 in the fourth innings. It must have hurt more after an opening stand of 109 between Warner and Rogers, especially after matching England blow to blow in the first innings and most of the second. The obituary was on the board, and Clarke was left speechless by his batters once again.
Kennington Oval, London
Result: Match Drawn
A spectacular draw for the ages. Rain and bad light had forced the players to make a game out of it- and Clarke took the lead with a bold final day declaration to give England a tough 227 to score in the final 45 overs of the day. To everyone’s shock, England went for it- thanks to KP’s outrageous innings- and Clarke was spared the most embarrassing defeat of his career in the end by the umpires and the stubborn rules of the ICC handbook. The crowd were denied a grandstand finish after a frustrating test match- a game where Watson came to the party too late- with England almost pulling off a coup with 22 to get in the last 5 overs. They demonstrated why they were a better team by the end, reducing Clarke to pleads and time wasting tactics towards the end.
The series was to remain 3-0, that could have easily been 2-2 or 4-0 too. In the end, it was a fair result.