The Ashes started six weeks ago and it is now time for the final Test of the summer, with the final Ashes Test of 2019.
Australia have retained the Ashes and will be hopeful of continuing their good form and winning the series at The Oval.
It is the first time in almost 20 years that England have failed to reclaim the Ashes series at home and heads are rolling.
James Anderson’s whinging about England losing the Ashes because the pitches were not to England’s advantage were quite simply, laughable.
He can blame the pitches all he wants, but the simple fact of the matter is that England have been bowled out for less than 100, in one session four times in the past three years.
Is that all down to the pitch or is that down to the batsmen?
Test Cricket is not meant to be a casual stroll in the park, it takes hard work and effort. If the pitches were not to their satisfaction, adapt and move on.
Surely if you have been chosen to represent England in the Test team, you have the skill set to survive and excel in the format, right? If you can’t adapt to the conditions provided, then you shouldn’t be playing.
There was no mention of the pitches being unhelpful to England when Jofra Archer was steaming in, or when Australia were losing early wickets, which happened often.
It has not been an easy series for batting, for both teams.
Only five players from both teams (Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Root, Rory Burns and Ben Stokes) have averaged above 30, and the only centurions in the four Ashes Tests thus far, have been Rory Burns (1), Ben Stokes (2) and Steve Smith (3).
With batsmen struggling on both teams, I fail to then understand Anderson’s claims that the pitches haven’t been helpful to England.
Self-reflection is key to self-improvement. If the England players continue to hide their head in the clouds and deny any sort of problem, they will never improve.
Australia will be hoping that David Warner finally comes to the party in the final Test and takes some pressure off Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne.
Smith has scored 671 runs in the 3 Tests he has played, at the magnificent average of 134.20. Marnus Labuschagne has scored 291 runs at the highly impressive average of 58.20. David Warner on the other hand, averages 9.87 with the solitary half-century, and a hat-trick of ducks.
Australia cannot keep relying on the same two players to save the batting every single time. It is imperative to the team’s success that the other batsmen add some value.
Australia’s bowlers meanwhile have been excelling. World number 1, Pat Cummins has picked up 24 wickets, and Josh Hazlewood 18 wickets in the series at incredible averages of 17.41 and 16.88, respectively. England’s Stuart Broad, despite causing havoc for the left-handers, has taken 19 wickets at 26.
Is that down to the pitch or the players?
London is expected to have great weather over the next few days, with temperatures reaching a pleasant 25 degrees. There should be absolutely no issues with any stoppages to the final Test and we should get five full days.
The final Test begins on Thursday 12th September, at 12pm SA time at The Oval.