If the Investec Ashes’13 series was all about Ian Bell and Stuart Broad’s heroics, meanwhile the CB Ashes 2013-14 was a tale of the Australian team riding on the back of Mitchell Johnson’s momentum that took them to a 5-0 victory despite being ranked as underdogs.
Australia captain Michael Clarke had a belief, a belief that he could turn it around and he did so in the most brutal manner possible. It would be unfair though to talk just about Australia’s triumph over a seemingly unbeatable English side that whacked them a few months ago by 3-0.
It all began with a James Pattinson wide in the UK or you can say that it began with an Alastair Cook four if you like to talk about just legal deliveries. Siddle was the star of the first day (at least until the evening session began) as he held on to his habit of taking a five-for on the first day of an Ashes series.
Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn couldn’t resist ripping Australia apart yet again and together they set Trent Bridge on fire by taking four Australian wickets in the evening session. Australia managed to grab a lead though courtesy a heroic 96 on debut by Ashton Agar but in the end, it was Ian Bell who had to have the last laugh. A masterly ton by the Warwickshire man and Jimmy’s 10 wickets in the match were just about enough to guide England to a victory that wasn’t a ride in the park to be honest as Cook’s men won by “JUST” 15 runs.
Though, if Australia had anything in mind like they could turn it around at Lord’s, Joe Root’s 180, Bell’s hundred and a half century yet again in the same match and Graeme Swann’s 9 wickets told them that they actually couldn’t because a 351-run defeat was in the pack. Old Trafford now was where the two rivals came. Cook’s hope of making it 3-0 there only were completely hampered by Clarke’s recently attained mastery in making “Daddy Hundreds” as he went on to make yet another, in a statistician’s language, 187.
Cook was bamboozled this time as to what suddenly went wrong with the bowlers; Pietersen had the answer as he showed that how easy it was batting on the Old Trafford pitch which didn’t have much to offer. The Surrey lad completely dominated the Aussies and brought up his century in some style by hitting a six. Bell too didn’t sit back as he made one more half century and this time, a fairly aggressive one. Clarke yet again had managed a lead on this occasion but as they say, “Lack of luck is lack of everything” (I say it actually), rain came down only to make the Aussies realise that The Ashes were retained by England “Yet Again” because the match ended in a draw which could well have been an Australian win had the Sun held onto its position.
The fourth test was hosted by the Emirates Durham ICG, a ground that Australia weren’t too familiar with in terms of playing test cricket and England were on the same list. In one word, I’d say this was a match that belonged to the “Bs” of England. Broad, Bresnan and Bell were these “Bs”. Bell scored a century yet again which wasn’t a surprise, Broad starred by taking 10 wickets in the match and to be fair, turning the whole match around in one evening session when Australians were right on their way to chase down the English total.
This trembling of the Aussies against Broad’s rippers was termed as “The Great Australian Choke” by the British journalist Piers Morgan. It all came down to The Oval then with England being 3-0 up which turned out to be the final victory margin. Australia played exceptionally well in the first innings as Shane Watson and Steven Smith scored centuries.
England came out to bat with no intent of scoring runs and defended to an irritating extent according to many. As they finally got out with Australia having the lead yet again, the declaration came soon from Australia as they set England a target of 220 odd runs in 40+ overs. This time England played so quickly that they almost won the match had bad light not taken the entire spotlight at The Oval; then came the moment that they all were waiting for, the moment of lifting the ultimate prize, The Ashes.
Cook had got his name into the history books and so had this English team as well. The moment was up for grabs to be cherished for a long time. Though what was to come up for them in Australia was completely unknown.
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