Aussie Summer Down Under

It was impossible not to feel a touch melancholic about tattooed quickie Jade Dernbach’s final over in the first innings of the last T20 international between the two rivals at Sydney. Australia were a healthy 169-6 at the end of the 19th over, with skipper George Bailey at the crease.

Bailey entered the limited overs series after being the only test player dropped for the tour of South Africa. That, in no way, affected his mastery over the shorter format. His purple patch had continued, and the last over pretty much summed up England’s worst ever overseas tour.

What started as an Ashes series that England had won on the last 3 occasions, ended in abject surrender and homesickness for even the younger bunch of eager players. Bailey had smashed Anderson for 28 runs in an over in the third test, destroying any form of comeback or resistance offered by brittle English hearts a month ago. But who would have bet on the pleasant-looking assassin once again plundering an English bowler for almost the same amount? 26 runs were smashed of Dernbach’s last over, taking the English bowler’s figures to 141 runs of 11 overs in the series for him. He is already the most expensive bowler in ODI history (minimum 1000 balls bowled) and, with these final 2 games of crushing dominance by the Aussies, he became the 2nd most expensive T20 bowler in history. Of course, England had found a scapegoat to direct their frustration at, especially because the man steamed in with arms that were inked- a sign of rebellion and arrogance these days in cricketing circles. Look at KP, for example- he was singled out after the test series, more so because of his image than his modest contribution to the 0-5 pasting. He was a lot better than the real men responsible- Cook, Bell, Root and Flower.

 

So eventually, it was 12-1 to the Aussies at the end of one of their most successful summers. Not a soul, including Clarke, would have expected such a drastic turnaround in fortunes before the test series. 5-0 was resounding enough, but then to add a 4-1 in ODIs and 3-0 in T20s only capped off one of the most one-sided tours in recent history.

England, meanwhile, had some villains to single out and blame. One of their newspapers named every one of the 66 people who were part of the touring party- down to the assistant fielding coaches.

Sitting Duck
Joe Root. The young batsman, always a bit inconsistent to start with and one of the heroes of the Ashes in June, suffered what could be a career-stalling tour, where he struggled to get bat to ball for most part. He was even dropped from the ODIs after 3 games. Two 50s in the tests, One 50 in the ODIs and a strike rate of only 100 in the T20s for his 60 painful runs.

MS Dhoni Of the Tour
Andy Flower. The team coach finally resigned after the end of the 2nd T20 international, not before creating enough unrest to have their best players thinking twice about playing in the team that were known more for their waterworks in June.

Tragic Heroes
Eoin Morgan & Ben Stokes. Morgan came in and infused some life into the ODI side. He ended up as the highest scorer of the series, even winning them their solitary game. One wondered why he wasn’t brought in earlier, like, during the tests.

Stokes, the 22 year old, became everything that Root was expected to be. 15 wickets in the test series, a century, and 10 wickets in the ODI series. He could be the next Flintoff, but only if he isn’t exposed to such sapping abject tours ever again. We all know what happened to Flintoff after his 0-5 Down Under.

Captain Clueless
Cook literally retired into damnation after the ODI series, unable to take any more humiliation. The more open-chested Broad took over for T20s, after the English Captain showed an absolute lack of imagination during the Test Series, and a rare penchant of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory during the ODIs. Faulker, meanwhile, wanted him back.

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