The hosts sometimes get their picks right, but Ben Stokes’ inspiring leadership has kept the series competitive.
The first three Tests of the Ashes series have been thrilling,
The first three Tests of the Ashes series have been thrilling, with plenty of dazzling cricket, the odd dubious tactic, and some apparent cases of administrative blundering. The series has produced numerous batting gems, notably Usman Khawaja’s tenacious resistance and Joe Root’s deft placement. There has been plenty of audacity, from the unusual pairing of Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett to the great counterattacking strokeplay of Travis Head and Mitch Marsh. England’s captain, Ben Stokes, alternates between calm defense and explosive hitting, sending the ball far into the crowd.
Many batters have made starts but have yet to turn them into game-winning runs. I was skeptical of Harry Brook’s abilities before the series, but his century in the third Test, which led England to a much-needed victory, underlined his exceptional ability. Star performer Pat Cummins has led Australia’s bowling. Mitchell Starc showed outstanding attacking skill in a valiant effort to deliver Australia victory and the urn to Headingley. Nathan Lyon’s catastrophic injury at Lord’s highlighted how much Australia relied on their dependable offspinner.
England relies heavily on Stuart Broad’s talent and his chokehold on David Warner to drive their attack. They brought in the big-hearted Mark Wood late in the series, and he proved his worth with a high-speed onslaught at Headingley. Wood’s inclusion exemplified a recurring English failing: selection. Not only did they delay introducing his dangerous pace till the third Test, but they also chose Jonny Bairstow, a batter first, whose blunders with the gloves have cost his side dearly. They also decided to give red-carpet treatment to Moeen Ali, who was never much of a bowling or batting danger to Australia in his prime.
One of the fundamental contrasts between the two teams has been England’s inability to catch safely and save runs on the ground. What Alex Carey did was simply clever cricket; no deception was involved, and the crowd reaction was appalling, including absurd screams of “cheat.”
Cummins and Stokes have very different captaincy styles but strive for victory from the first delivery. Stokes has done wonders in persuading England to prioritize scoring runs and taking wickets, as they should. The regular bouncer barrages utilized by both teams are not a viable approach because they are too taxing on the bowler. The resulting scattered field placements are a dead giveaway to any eagle-eyed batter. The bouncer’s most effective weapon is still a surprise. There have been several issues, the most notable of which was Bairstow’s dismissal in the second innings at Lord’s. Bairstow was out, and his carelessness stemmed from an appalling failure to respect his wicket. What Alex Carey did was just clever cricket; there was no deception involved, and the audience’s reaction was horrendous, with absurd chants that Carey was a cheat. If Bairstow attempted to emphasize the lack of etiquette (a batter should be ready to face up when the bowler is in position to begin his run), his thought process was admirable, but his manner was utterly incorrect.
Regarding batters wandering out of their crease, umpires have been remiss in enforcing this unwritten rule, and the administration needs to be more negligent in supporting referees. This has just helped to highlight the administrators’ inaction. They have yet to dare to clarify some of the most contentious laws. As a result, the players are subjected to disgusting screams of “Cheat!” from an ignorant audience. In the instance of catch replays, administrators may not have described the process because there is overwhelming evidence that using replays does not always offer the truth. This is again another example of how administrators make mistakes, and the players pay the price. Midway through the Lord’s Test, I thought Australia was on the verge of capturing the Ashes. However, I overlooked Stokes’ excellent inspirational characteristics. Australia will win the Ashes, but it will be an arduous struggle against an England team that is still competitive despite poor selection.
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