Ashes 2013-14 : England’s whitewash against Australia
Amazing how everything in cricket changes, and yet stays almost exactly the same.
From the moment in mid-September that England announced a very large squad – 17 plus Tim Bresnan – there were exact parallels between this tour and the last time that England went to Australia on the back of three successive wins in Ashes series in 1958-59, when they were widely expected to make it a fourth.
• England’s top order could not score enough runs against Australia’s pace bowling led by a left-armer, partly because they were unaccustomed to this angle of attack. Alan Davidson and Ian Meckiff took 41 wickets between them in 1958-59, and while Davidson pitched the ball up and swung it, Meckiff banged it in – before being banned for throwing. Mitchell Johnson, in taking 37 wickets, did both, legally.
• England’s top order scored too slowly as well as insufficiently, so there was no platform for the middle-order strokeplayers – on this tour Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, in 1958-59 Peter May and Colin Cowdrey. In this series none of England’s batsmen scored at 50 runs per 100 balls, whereas all of Australia’s did, except for Chris Rogers and his strike-rate was 48.9.
• England’s wicketkeeper lost form with bat and gloves, and played only three Tests, robbing the side of their long-time fulcrum: Matt Prior on this tour, Godfrey Evans on the earlier one. In both cases the whole chemistry of the side was upset without a No7 to marshal the tail, and without the regular keeper to jolly them along in the field.