Ashes 2013: In the Light of the Present, Peering into the Future

Blog by: Roh

CRICKET-ENG-AUS-ASHES

A perfect start, that culminated in a not-so perfect finish. Such was the case of the 2013 Ashes that saw numerous infractions and turbulence – not just on the field but also off it. England may rejoice in the victory, a 3-0 triumph is as mammoth as it gets, but they will nonetheless rue the fact that if not for the ICC rule-book, they would have managed make a comfortable go at routing the Australians 4-0.

But even though the Englishmen may be feeling disappointed about the outcome of the final test, it is to be said that the team thoroughly got their act together even in the face of harshest of criticism not just from the Australian players but also from the Australian media. Unlike in the previous years where controversy dogged the Australian players for their gamesmanship during play, it was the Englishmen who came under the scanner of sportsmanship this time round. The bad blood that ensued between the teams, though palpably reminiscent of the Ashes fervour, nonetheless caused a lot of unnecessary attention to be diverted onto arenas that didn’t connote much for the series’ trajectory.

The eccentricities of the DRS (Decision Review System), the unexplained reluctances of umpires to take decisions that would have been a snap of the fingers in a bygone era and the constant recriminations that of the players that poured forth in the wake of all these haplessness; Ashes 2013 will possibly go down in the history-books as one of those events where uncertainties prevailed, lorded and gained priority over cricketing action. And when cricket did gain precedence over all the hullaballoo, it gave the fans worldwide reasons to cheer and raise toasts about.

At the start of the series, England’s perfection gave a perfect juxtaposition to Australia’s seeming tottering; but as the series wound its way towards the end, it would be the latter that would be more attuned to the nature of their loss rather than the other way round. The simplest reason being that the inconsistencies and doubts that the Australians were plagued by, coach Darren Lehmann ensured that the team transcended all these difficulties and came out fighting all the way. Though Australia then were indeed thwarted by chance in a bid to try and win at least a match or two, it has given them ample boost in momentum to set the stage for the return leg of the series, just months down the line.

Prior to the start of the series where Australia seemed not to know their own strengths, the coming together – albeit far too late – of its star players would enable the team to be more focused in its preparation as hosts, Down Under. For a team that has struggled to live up to its own impeccably crafted and sustained achievements, the 3-0 loss is then not to demoralizing when considered that all bets were hedged against them – for a 5-0 whitewash – before the series commenced.

The pressure thus now falls back on the English shoulders with a lot at stake than a mere consolidation of this series’ win, come November. Though in all honesty, England do look to have a squad that could help them consolidate this Ashes win, any lackadaisical or careless attitude on the part of the team would definitely impair its chances under completely different playing conditions. Their attitude – of urinating at the Oval in a display of post-victory celebration – then doesn’t shine the team in the brightest of lights but rather displays them in an utterly perverse and immature context especially since several of its players have been called upon for conduct not deemed suitable to that of sporting professionals.

And while England and Australia try and recoup their defences and attack, it’s the ICC that has to try and change some of its policies and regulations to accommodate the interests of all parties involved – the teams, the players and the fans. Not doing so would be detrimental not just to test series but also to the existence of the format itself facing stiffer competition from the likes of T20 cricket. The ICC would need to step up to its task as the sole and principle governing body of the sport, without allowing moneyed and influential parties to deter it in bringing about sustainable enhancements for the future of test cricket.

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