Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's Called "Test" Cricket For A Reason

And England just failed.

They were three-nil up. They've won the Ashes. One game left to play.

Australia got in a good first innings. Good, but not unbeatable.

The English have chosen to play 'dead-rubber' cricket. Block, block, block, play for time, stall, stall. They're not playing to win. They're playing -- quite desperately -- not to lose.

That's quite telling, because after all, what do they have to lose? One game in a dead series?

It seems that the Brits are so afraid of losing a single match to a much-weakened Australian side that they will willingly play for nothing but a draw. And to me, that's very interesting.

I remember the Australian sides under Border, Taylor, Waugh, and Ponting... and I can't remember them playing a dead-rubber game for a draw. In fact, they occasionally made very risky declarations in the hopes of chasing a victory. Over and over: they showed they'd rather lose a dead-rubber game in pursuit of a really big win than play safe, sad cricket that made the game a byword for boredom in the 60s and 70s.

The simple fact is that the Australians weren't afraid that a single loss might make them seem vulnerable. They were prepared to face any side in the world under just about any conditions, and they didn't give a damn if they lost a match once they'd won the series.

Now, when Australia went to England this time I expected the English to thrash hell out of our team. And it's true: the scoreboard is 3-0. But the first English win was a squeaker. And one Australian-tilted game got washed out. And here we are in the final game, and the English don't have the stones to play like a winning side.

It's interesting. The British fans are all crowing about the scoreboard. And here's me: I'm seeing an English team that's so afraid of looking vulnerable that they won't play for a win even when they've got nothing to lose.

The Ashes will be contested again later this year, starting in Brisbane. And there won't be any sad little doctored English pitches, either.

I didn't think it was possible... but the English quite clearly are afraid of losing even a single match to the Australians. And that means the Ashes series down here is likely to be a whole lot of fun to watch.

But not if you're English.

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