The Ashes or the Test series regularly played between Australia and England has been touted as the most intensely fought and tough battles in world cricket. To consider something as the pinnacle of Tests, you would think that most matches would go down to the wire and the series would stay alive till the end.
However is that really so? A look at the recent history of the Ashes, meaning the series that have taken place since 2000…
2001, in England: Australia was quick to take a 3-0 lead and render the series dead. What’s more, these were all comfortable victories: by an innings & 118 runs, 8 wickets and 7 wickets. While England did strike back in the fourth Test, the fifth Test was won by Australia by an innings to make it an extremely one-sided 4-1.
2002-03, in Australia: This one was even worse and Australia went to 4-0 up and lost only the last Test like they have done many times: They only lower their guard once they’ve won the series convincingly. Again, these were one sided games and this is how Australia won: by 384 runs, an innings & 51 runs, an innings & 48 runs and 5 wickets.
2006-07, in Australia: This was the worst of them all and Australia blanked England 5-0. It was a totally hopeless series. The problem was that again, all five matches were one-sided and England didn’t even give a semblance of a fight. It could have been an Australia versus Bangladesh series and the numbers would have still been the same.
2010-11, in Australia: This one England won 3-1. The best part is that in all 3 matches that England won they inflicted an innings defeat on Australia! Their first innings totals of England in these matches were: 620-5, 513 and 644. That certainly doesn’t sound like Australian pitches with fast bowlers breathing down their necks!
2013, in England: This time England bettered their 2010-11 performance and beat Australia 3-0.
2013, in Australia: If Michael Clarke thought that his career in the Ashes was over then he was mistaken. Australia thrashed England black and blue to 5-0.
Now here’s the deal. You could say that England is on decline and Australia is on the ascendant, but that is not the case. England had a good year when they won the Ashes early on in the year 3-0 while Australia was whitewashed 0-4 by India.
Batsmen Ian Bell, Alistair Cook, Joe Root and Ian Trott were in the form of their lives. So were bowlers Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Graeme Swann.
So since 2000, that’s 6 one-sided series with two close ones: When England won 2-1 on two occasions in 2005 and 2009.
Compare India-South Africa in Test matches in the last odd decade: 0-1, 1-0, 1-2, 1-1, 1-1 and 1-1! Now that’s really competitive! Australia has started sharing an England type record with India too. The last four series in India’s favour are 2-0, 2-0, 0-4 and 4-0.
International Test cricket has really become skewed and any top team can get whitewashed by any other team. In fact, South Africa is the most consistent team in the world was also whitewashed 0-3 by Australia at home in 2006.
Of course it is only off late that the Ashes have largely become one-sided affairs.
If you look at the larger picture and 100+ years history of the series, then Australia leads a narrowly 32-31 in terms of series wins.
© Sunil Rajguru