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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ashes to dust .... Michael Clarke to retire - loss at Trent Bridge

Bishan Singh Bedi was a quality left arm spinner who took 266 wickets in 67 Tests.  He played in 10 One dayers too ….. not many would remember that the Oval Test in Sept 1979  remembered for Sunil Gavaskar’s epic 221 in the 4th innings chasing a mammoth 438 runs was his last test – that was the test whence S Venkatraghavan was unceremoniously sacked as Captain.  The fate had befallen on Bedi after the defeat at Pakistan in 1978 tour.

At Trent Bridge, Aussies were humiliated – ashes went out of hand – there could be nothing epic about a sequence of three-day finishes [it could have finished on day 2 itself !], but the sheer insanity of this series may just have reset our expectations.  Only now we realise that it is not India alone who buckle under pressure and perform badly overseas !   Cricket, is the game of glorious uncertainties. There have been victors and scars for the defeated.

Even as Australia was struggling, there have been scathing attacks and the former England opener Geoff Boycott known for not mincing words said - You cannot just turn up in England and expect pitches to be exactly like Australia, hope the sun is going to shine at 90 degrees and you will bat under blue skies. That does not happen. There are times in England when you have to graft and work hard for your runs. You do not have long periods where you can cream the ball to all parts. I have no sympathy for them. They came here cock-a-hoop and gloating after beating us 5-0. They derided England and some of their players slagged us off whenever they could in the newspapers.

As Bedi vanished, there is going to be curtain for another player – Michael Clarke, the Austrlaian Captain, who became the first Australia captain to oversee 12 Test defeats away from home, Michael Clarke conceded his personal drought with the bat from No4 meant his side were playing this Ashes series with 10 men and suffering because of it.  

As a player, Clarke experienced his 10th Test loss on these shores at Edgbaston  – the first Australia cricketer to do so since Jack Blackham in 1893 – and has scored only 94 runs during the series at an average of 18.8, with his career mean dipping below 50 for the first time since November 2012.

 “It’s going to be hard to beat an opposition when they have 11 players and we have 10,” said Clarke. “I haven’t led from the front as I’d like to as captain. That’s my role as leader of this team to lead by example. Number four is a critical position and you need to be scoring more runs than I have been.” Asked whether he considered his future as both captain and a player to be on the line, the 34-year-old replied “not at all”, insisting the methods that have brought him 8,605 runs in a 113-Test career to date give him the belief that his form would return.  Clarke also passed the 11 away Test defeats suffered by the former captains Allan Border, Ricky Ponting and Kim Hughes.

England regained the Ashes 10.2 overs into the third day at Trent Bridge as they completed a thumping win by an innings and 78 runs in the fourth Investec Test. It was 599 days since England fell apart in an Ashes whitewash in Australia. The rebuilding has been painful, but Alastair Cook's young England team has beaten an experienced Australian side that will now be dismantled ~ and Australia captain Michael Clarke has confirmed he will retire from international cricket at the end of the ongoing Ashes series. "I'll have one more Test and that will be the end of my career," Clarke told Channel Nine after the loss. "Time has caught up with me," said Clarke. "As a player you build yourself up for big tournaments - the World Cups and the Ashes.

Michael John Clarke debuted at Bangalore in Oct 2004 – has since made 8628 runs in 114 tests and 7981 runs in One dayers with 28 and 8 centuries in both forms.  He has also taken 31 & 57 wickets in Tests and ODIs.  Having made up his mind to quit the previous evening following a heart-to-heart with his wife Kyly, Clarke proceeded to tell Lehmann of his decision. He also informed chief selector Rodney Marsh, then broke the news to stunned team-mates in the Trent Bridge dressing-room before the start of a session that lasted only 40 minutes as England snapped up Australia’s last three wickets to claim an Ashes-winning 3-1 lead. The Oval will be Clarke’s 115th and final Test, and his 47th as captain.  The kind interpretation of his career will focus on 28 Test hundreds, including four scores over 200 in 2012 alone, a record in a calendar year that not even Don Bradman was able to match. Then there was the World Cup success on home soil in March, when Clarke’s 74 helped brush aside New Zealand in the final at the MCG.

Way back in 1977, Australian cricket team toured England in the 1977 season to play five Test matches for the 1977 Ashes series against England. The Australians also played three one day internationalsand 19 other tour matches.  Those were the days, when Aussies were so strong and as arrogant as they have been al along – they had won the previous two Ashes series, 1974–75 at home and 1975 in England.  They won the Centenary Test in Mar  1977 to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Test match. Remarkably Australia won by exactly the same margin of 45 runs. However the tourists, led by new captain Greg Chappell, were rocked prior to the start of the 1977 Ashes series by the conflict between the Australian Cricket Board and Kerry Packer's Nine Network.  Consequently, the Australian Cricket Board refused to select players who had signed up with the rebel league, and as many of the Australian Test side had joined, the Australian side was left without most of its star players for the tour. Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson had originally signed up for World Series Cricket, but an existing media contract prevented him from joining, and so he remained free to lead the Australian bowling attack. Mike Brearley replaced Greig as England captain; Australians were outplayed, and England won the series 3–0 with two matches drawn.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

9th Aug 2015

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