by Kobe Jacobs, ACS Literary Scholar
In the end, England’s ultimate demise was the result of their weather. It isn’t an English summer without a bit of rain and the timing couldn’t have been any more cruel for the hosts. As an Australian, retaining the Ashes in this manner is rather disappointing because this series didn’t deserve a slow and anticlimactic finish.
The prospect of heading to the Fifth Test at The Oval with the series drawn level at two a piece would have been a nervy feeling I’m sure for all Australian fans. You could just tell that the momentum was substantially edging in England’s favour, having won in Headingley and blitzing the Aussies with both the bat and ball throughout the first three days in Manchester.
The support from the Lancashire crowd seemed to create a special synergy where both the England players and fans believed they were going to force a deciding Test match. The way Zak Crawley and the rest of the England team led the way with the bat throughout England’s first innings was top-class. Knowing that they most likely had three days to get a result, their ability to score runs quickly with solid stroke play was incredible. And it was Jonny Bairstow who best displayed this brilliant batting.
But then came the rain on Day 4. And as the England fans seemed to remain upbeat and optimistic, both Marnus Labuschagne and Mitch Marsh ensured that an Australian collapse wouldn’t ensue. As the pair progressed through the 30 overs available, the Old Trafford crowd slowly started to lose faith as maybe they knew the unfortunate end was near. Had Day 5 happened, you’d think that the Australians would have lost the match. The conditions certainly wouldn’t have suited the Australian batsman and the pressure would have been too much. The rain simply saved them. As the urn returns to Australian shores for yet another year, by no means is the Test at The Oval going to be a pushover. Both countries still have plenty of pride to play for.
For us Australians, I’m sure most are uncertain of what to make of the result. SEN’s Gerard Whateley described the retainment as “an achievement but not a celebration”, which is an accurate assessment. Grinding out a gritty draw in Manchester would’ve been my personal preference in retaining the Ashes had there been better weather, though in no way am I complaining. And someone else who isn’t complaining either would be captain Pat Cummins, who has carried himself with great poise throughout this Tour. Both he and his team know they did the hard work in the first two Tests to get into this position. Although it may be unfortunate for the home side, it sure isn’t for the visitors and ultimately, this is what Test match cricket can produce. So I tip my cap to the Australians, they do deserve this.
Australian Cricket Society’s literary scholar Kobe Jacobs is mentored by writer John Harms. His pieces are also published at www.footyalmanac.com.au .