Australia's Ashes Jinx After Successful World Cups - Mere Numbers or Australia's Poor Skills?
Australia surrendered the Ashes after losing the fourth Test by an innings and 78 runs on Saturday. This was their first tour of England after winning the World Cup in March.
Another series loss in England, the fourth on the trot. Once more the urn has been snatched away from the Australians. A loss inside three days in the fourth Test ensured that the world champions failed to win a series in England since 2001. The term 'world champions' is of immense significance. This title seems to be Australia's greatest barrier when it comes to winning a series in their arch-rivals' backyard.(Key Moments of England's Triumph)
Statistics don't tell the whole story, but they don't lie either. A close look at the numbers shows a pattern which no layman, critic, analyst or player can ignore. In the last three instances, whenever Australia have won the World Cup, they have ended up losing their first Test series in England since the tournament. Chronologically speaking - Australia demolished every team along their way to win the 2003 World Cup, but they lost a hard-fought series in 2005 2-1. The 2007 edition saw the Aussies once again destroy all those who stood before them, yet again England outclassed them 2-1 in 2009. In 2015 they won a record fifth title, but alas with still one Test to go, England have the better of them again.(England Find Perfect Blend)
Once may be luck, twice can be called coincidence, but three times is a little too hard to digest even for the most rational person. One must remember, none of these playing XIs were weak teams by any stretch of the imagination. The 2005 squad boasted of players like Mathew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. While the teams in 2009 and 2015 were frail in comparison, they were a tough bunch to beat. The current Aussie team had won eight out of nine Test rubbers when they came to England in July.(Australia to Review Loss)
It must be highlighted that while this series may have been one-sided, 2005 and 2009 saw some of the best cricket played. Be it England's thrilling two-run win to level the series or their last pair holding out for a draw to prevent the Aussies from taking a lead, all ten matches saw England having to earn the urn. The men from Down Under looked completely out of sorts this time round.(England on a High)
What led to this debacle? Here is a look at five reasons why the Aussies went down so tamely:
1. Weakness Against the Duke Ball?
Did Australia find it difficult to counter the Duke ball in English conditions? Former skipper Ricky Ponting has emphasised the need to introduce the Duke ball in Sheffield Shield matches. The Aussies are more used to the Kookaburra ball and that could be a reason why the batsmen have struggled against quality bowling in English conditions. Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steven Finn were able to carry the mantle from James Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff.
2. Clarke's Inability to Lead From the Front?
MMichael Clarke took over the team after Ricky Ponting stepped down in 2011. He has had a mixed run as skipper as Australia have experienced highs and lows under him. From being bowled out of 47 vs South Africa to winning a Test series in the same opposition's backyard - it has been a journey of sorts. However, the 34-year-old failed to lead by example in the latest series. Clarke's run of low scores resulted in the morale of the team dipping as the series progressed. Even former cricketers believed the hunger was gone and it was time for him to go. Apart from being skipper, Clarke is also the backbone of the middle order. Without a substantial contribution from him, Australia failed to get a foundation in the middle stages of their innings. He ultimately announced that he would retire after the final Test.(Clarke Pleads for Patience)
3. Johnson, Starc Not Living up to Potential
ThThe two Mitchell's - Johnson and Starc came with the nation's hopes riding on them. However, they flattered to deceive. Johnson found little assistance from the wickets and was unable to replicate his performances during the 5-0 whitewash. He picked up just 11 wickets in 4 Tests, not a fair reflection of his talent. It would have given him memories of 2009, when England played him with ease. Barring his six-wicket haul in the 4th Test, Starc had nothing to write home about on this tour. He bowled well in patches, but not enough to cause any major problems for the English.(England Enjoy Swinging Time)
4. Young Guns Failed to Fire
Steven Smith and Josh Hazlewood failed to make use of their opportunities . Smith did get a double hundred and fifty in the 2nd Test, but the next four innings saw him produce single digit scores. Hazlewood with 13 wickets enjoyed relative success, but he has not been able to create ripples in the opposition batting. England have negotiated him well without any major alarms. David Warner has got good starts at the top, but whenever he looks set for a big score, he has thrown away his wicket. His departure has more often than not been the cause of a batting collapse to give England the upper hand.(Cook Pleasantly Surprised)
5. Haddin's Dropped Catch and Harris' Retirement
Ryan Harris announced his international retirement just before the first Test due to his knee problem. It may have upset the mental balance of the Australians. While that is certainly no excuse for such a performance, it could have been a trigger to cause a downward spiral for the Aussies. Brad Haddin's costly drop of Joe Root in Cardiff saw the latter score a ton. His 134 played a crucial role in England's 169-run triumph to go 1-0 up in the series. Had that catch been taken, it could well have been a different story altogether.(Clarke Says he Failed to Lead From the Front)