I could get so mad and worked up about this and rant and rave, but at the moment I, and many other cricket lovers, find ourselves in a state of total bemusement. Sir Ian Botham predicted a 5-0 whitewash but he did not mean it to turn out in favour of Australia. For somebody who played such brilliant cricket in such a swashbuckling way, it never fails to amaze me what a pompous bore he has turned into, always so sure he is right and knows best. He seems to have morphed into Fred Truman whose favourite comment when on Test Match Special was ''Eee I don't know what they think they're doin' out there'.
In the summer we won the Ashes for the third time in a row, an unprecendented success, and of course we were all delighted. However, and this is not hindsight on my part, I really thought this at the time, it seemed to me that we were lucky. One match we were almost certain to lose but as it bucketed down on the fifth day we got away with it. Appalling umpiring throughout the entire series also caused mayhem and I felt that most matches turned on one or perhaps two contributions from a batsman/bowler. Michael Clarke the Aussie captain was laughed at and derided when he said it was closer than it looked. He was right. I had my worries that when the English team went to Australia they were not going to have it as easy as they thought. As for the English press, well according to them we just had to turn up and the games were ours.
We all know what happened. Total and utter humiliation. No effort, no will to win, apathetic and looking as if they did not know what was happening and wanted to go home, the English team turned in the most abject performance I have ever seen, and I am a veteran of that wonderful old custom The Batting Collapse which I witnessed time and time again in the 80s.
Jonathan Trott went home with a stress related illness and nobody has nothing but good wishes for him. Apparently he has had this problem for some time and it has been 'managed'. After his performance in recent matches where it seemed he had lost confidence and form, I wonder if it was a good idea to take him on this tour. A game with the Aussies determined to hit you on the head with bouncers is not a good place to be in his circumstances.
Shane Warne, who can be extremely irritating a lot of the time, was pretty much correct in all that he said during this series. He was pretty scathing about Cook's captaincy and there was very little I found to disagree with. I think Cook is a decent bloke but I also think he lacks imagination and can only work to a set pattern. This is fine when you are in form and knocking off hundreds with nothing else to worry about, but he is a person who needs to be managed, not manage others. When the Aussies were rolling us out and we were trying to bowl to them, some of the field placings seemed to be bizarre for certain batsmen and he clearly had no idea what to do. Most of the time the bowlers set their own fields and just got on with it. Flower, the coach, has a clear influence on him and one gets the feeling that he is sent out and told to go with Plan A. It doesn't work so he is lost.
The question has been asked is Cook's captaincy more important than his batting and the answer is no, we need him batting well again and I feel the captaincy should be taken from him and handed to Prior who he dropped for the last test. Having a captain who comes in low down in the order and who is not expected to make big runs seems more sensible, less to worry about.
And as for Swann retiring and going home half way through the tour, well it beggers belief and I have nothing but contempt for his desertion of the team.
I could go on for pages and pages but it is all being said in the papers. Kathryn rang from Oz as she had gone to the Test and we had a good long chat about it. She feels the British press are awful and I agree with her, but have pointed out to her that on this occasion, the general air is not one of fury but of sheer bafflement at the style of our capitulation.
The press also seem to view the Tests against India this summer as a shoe in. They never learn. I feel like having t-shirts made for the sports writers saying NEVER underestimate the opposition, particularly the Aussies.
And finally, Kathryn said that on the third day of the Test when we were something like 23 for 4 the only cheers the English batsmen got was when they reached double figures.
Oh the shame......