Disastrous Tour Comes to an End at Last – 04/02/14
England left for their tour of Australia in late October, hoping to make history by winning four consecutive Ashes series. The mood was buoyant as they prepared to take on their familiar old enemy for the second time within the space of a few months. In England, they won 3-0, with their key performers standing tall at the crunch moments, and began the series in Brisbane as clear favourites.
What happened next is history, of course, but far from the kind they had anticipated. England, who with their frailties exposed, were broken by Australia’s passion and aggressive brand of cricket, and returned three players and one Team Director down; humbled, no doubt, by the whole experience and in need of a break.
The T20 Internationals had offered the chance for a new group of players to right the ship ahead of the World T20 next month in Bangladesh, but they, too, were brushed aside by a rampant Australia. Cameron White and Aaron Finch, who were at the top of the Aussie order, and George Bailey, who was in the middle, made light work of England’s bowlers. White scored 174 runs at an average of 87 and a rate of 139 runs per 100 balls. Bailey was only dismissed once for his 123 runs, at a strike rate of 198 runs per 100 balls, while Finch – England’s nemesis in the ODIs – scored 92 runs at an average of 30.66 and a rate of 146 runs per 100 balls.
England’s batsmen, by contrast, never got going. Ravi Bopara was the only one to pass fifty, scoring 65 not out off 27 in the first T20 in Hobart. He was England’s leading scorer in the series, with 75 runs and finished top of the T20 FTI MVP Rankings. Joe Root was next, with 61 runs and Jos Buttler, 50; but they had strike rates of 103 runs per 100 balls and 100 runs per 100 balls respectively. Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan scored more quickly, but could each muster only 44 runs.
Stuart Broad was the only England bowler in the top seven leading wicket-takers in the T20 series. He took four wickets, including 3-30 in Sydney, and sits second to Bopara in the T20 FTI MVP Rankings. Tim Bresnan was the only other bowler to take more than one wicket for England, with two. Broad has been one of the standout players for England this Winter. He has made up ground on Ben Stokes in the Overall FTI MVP Rankings, with the pair sitting joint on top with 174 points. Broad scored 200 runs and took 30 wickets across all three formats, 155 and 21 of which came in the Ashes. He topped the Test FTI MVP Rankings, but could only manage eighth in the ODI FTI MVP Rankings after resting for the first two games.
Stokes has been one of England’s finds of the Winter, with a brilliant hundred in Perth and a six-fer in Sydney during the Ashes. He returned to the WACA, making 70 in the fourth ODI – England’s one success against the Aussies – but only played the last T20, having been rested for the first two. Stokes made 390 runs and took 25 wickets across all formats, scoring 279 and taking 15 in the Ashes. His return of 106 runs and ten wickets saw him into second spot in the ODI FTI MVP Rankings.
Bresnan has moved into third in the Overall FTI MVP Rankings, but he’s a whopping 88 points behind the two front-runners. With a short ODI and T20 tour of the West Indies at the end of February 2014, followed by the World T20 in March, there is plenty left for England to play for this Winter and plenty of MVP points up for grabs, too. For now, though, let’s just be thankful that the tour of Australia is over.
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