Ashes to Australia if they win here - Pakistan Today

Ashes to Australia if they win here

Every once in a while a player grabs the ink-pot and the paper being used by those in charge of the Heavens and writes his own script. Mitchell Johnson moved not just his lips to intimidate the English batsmen at Perth but, more importantly, the ball. The Western Australian desert winds themselves might have been surprised by the dance that the ball leaving Johnson’s hands did in the air.
Similarly, Mike Hussey reminded everyone of the qualities that earned him the name of Mr Cricket; resolute and cerebral in defence, calculating and ruthless in attack. It was an Aussie performance that lifted hearts everywhere except in the lands, and seas even, of Her Majesty Elizabeth the 2nd.
Mental warfare, just like physical warfare, thrives on momentum. Many could be forgiven for thinking the Aussies have it while going into the Boxing Day Test. But is momentum enough?
England will take heart from the fact that the wicket at the MCG has never been as quick as the WACA. Indeed it quite often is the opposite and teams can put up big scores if they bat patiently. And patience is one bit of capital that the English have in abundance. Investing patience and reaping its dividends comes easily to the English top order.
Those in the habit of taking heart from history can remind themselves that the last time England won the Ashes in Australia it was the Boxing Day Test that sealed the win for them. But that year 1986-87, just like the England win at Adelaide, would seems oceans away to the minds of the present English team. They are being doubted, including by people such as Boycott, because they failed to put up a fight on the final morning at Perth or even the penultimate afternoon.
You could argue that even in that epic 2005 series, England won despite the Ashes being tied 1-1 after three games. But at that point England had the momentum. The English need a boost of confidence and their remarkably talented team might have to save their best yet as a Christmas present to be unwrapped by keen eyes on the field. The Barmy Army is always a source of support but it is in danger of being drowned out on the first day if the expected 80,000 plus Aussies show up. Bad news? Barring a natural disaster, they will show up.
The worst that England can do, while the Aussies write their script, is play for a draw. The Three Lions need to roar. Or they might leave the Aussie shores looking like they most often have in the last near quarter century: bowed and beaten. The Aussies need to be mindful that whereas Perth was a great performance, it does not guarantee a series win. Each time the Aussies have lost the Ashes in recent years, their one win has been convincing but the boat somehow collapsed both times before they reached the shores of victory.
Even the law of averages would predict one great performance in five Tests. That said, at Perth Aussies didn’t win because of any calculus exercises. They won because of the wonder of their spirit and also passion, desperation and yearning.
But the MCG wicket will test the Aussie bowling. Johnson and the pack will hope for slightly overcast conditions whenever they come on to bowl while the English batsmen will wear sunny smiles when the sun is out. There is no doubt that late in an English innings, the Aussie bowlers can get the ball to reverse but by then the damage may have been done. So the Aussies will need to strike early or consistently. English bowlers could be forgiven for not taking Michael Clarke too seriously.
But ‘The Pup’ is due a big score and here is his moment. Similarly, Ponting (as Ian Chappell rightly said) is merely out of luck but not out of touch. For a man who saved his best one-day innings for a World Cup final, there won’t be a bigger stage than the Boxing Day Test with his third Ashes defeat as skipper looming to sock it to Poms with belligerent three-figure knock.
Woeful at Perth, Swann might fancy his chances at MCG, especially if England bowl second. He needs a confidence boost before Sydney, even though Hussey has quite literally trashed his plans. With a good batting wicket, although not a dead one, promised by the curator the Aussies will need to bat England out of the game. The trouble is that on recent form the reverse has a greater chance of happening.
However, if they play patiently they should need to bat only once. A Boxing Day Test, with 80,000 packing the stands, a first innings 500 by the Aussie would rattle nerves of steel. And if they hold their catches then you might as well send the English back home before the fifth Test. Australia are quite simply not losing the Ashes if they win here.

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