Friday, 5 January 2007

England's Ashes pain ends, but what now?

Fifth Ashes Test: Australia win by 10 wickets and the series 5-0, yes 5-0, no draws, no scraps for England.

And so an end to my nights of listening to an session of Test Match Special before dropping off to sleep assuming there is some hope of a decent days work by our boys abroad, only to be woken by the morning news that we had blown another opportunity and that the game was all but up.

We all know what went wrong, with errors of judgement and poor performances along the way, but what for the future of the team:

Andrew Strauss: Obviously good enough, but needs to knuckle down more often and stop getting ropey umpiring decisions!

Ally Cook: Shows great promise, his mid-series Test century showed that, but needs to progress as he matures.

Ian Bell: Great improvements since the last Ashes, showed some guts on and off, could be a winner at number 3 if Vaughan doesn't return.

Kevin 'All or nothing' Pietersen: As the name suggests, it's a big impressive whackathon or not a lot from the shot-playing king.

Paul Collingwood: One monumental effort and some failures don't cement his place, but the lads got stamina and ability.

Freddie Flintoff: Never fully fit, too much responsibility, not enough support. By the end of the series he showed signs of his former self with bat and ball. He will be back, but as an all-rounder/captain, I'm still not convinced.

Gerry Jones: Can't be preferred to Read any more, unless he smacks a couple of tons early in the 2007 summer.

Chris Read: A fine keeper, but his batting has been shown up by the best. Surely his stop start career deserves another series to let him improve?

Matthew Hoggard: Dependable as ever, our bowling rock, get fit soon. Probably the only player to hold his head high at series end.

Jimmy Anderson: Personally I think he has shown enough promise to persevere with, some hanging around with the bat won't do him any harm!

Saj Mahmood: Personally he looks to ragged with bat and ball, and as for the schoolboy run out error of Warne in the final Test...

Harmy Harmison: Thankfully he ended the series in far better form than he began, unfortunately he began it in appalling form. Question marks still linger, but he isn't the worst tail ender.

Ashley Giles: An Tourus Horribilus for Gilo. As Warne put down the Ashes in 2005, an abiding moment for England will be his drop of Ponting in the Third Test. Hope he can put it behind him, but who knows how many opportunities he'll get now?...

Monty Panesar: He didn't set the world alight, but once he was rightfully given a chance he showed enough skill with the ball and courage with the bat to see him cemented as our first choice spinner.

Putting it in perspective, we were beaten by a very good, determined and experienced side, but now we need to address the shortcomings and power on this summer. By 2009, we may well have a more rounded side to challenge the new-look Aussies who should be without Hayden and Gilchrist by then.

Lets just forget the one-day series and World Cup, for I fear more of the current form will prevail!