England’s unerringly confident Adelaide performance has left them in the driving seat. However, there is still time for the Australian bushranger police to pull them over, ask them to step outside the vehicle, arrest them, and put them firmly back in those tiny, fold down seats you get in the boot of old 4x4s, where touring English cricket teams invariably belong.
But this might not happen, in fact, the bulk of the Aussie media have already written off their team’s chances of regaining the urn. To be fair, there is a case to be made; injury to Simon Katich, Shane Watson’s inability to score hundreds, Ricky Ponting’s abysmal captaincy, Michael Clarke’s iffy back, Mitchell Johnson’s sawn-off shotgun style of bowling (undoubtedly powerful, but couldn’t hit the side of a Renault Espace from 22 yards), Xavier Doherty’s simple lack of talent and Doug ‘the Rug’ Bollinger having 98% less sparkle than his name, does represent quite a compelling argument.
But as every English cricket fan knows, the next collapse, the next injury, the next idiotic Tweet, or the next world beating Australian prodigy is only just round the corner. So here is why we should all invest in inflatable slide companies, so we can get off Cloud Nine in a safe and enjoyable manner:
1) England‘s batsmen have played far too well. By racking up 517-1 and 620-5 in successive games, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen et al have not played themselves into the form of their lives, but merely wasted all their runs on two pitches so dead they made Julius Caesar look sprightly. Just as Dimitar Berbatov fills his boots against awful Blackburn and Liverpool sides (that’s right, Liverpool, check their away record this season before you look too indignant) and then can’t hit a cows arse with a banjo when it really matters, England’s top order could well have horded too many runs too soon, leaving none for the more testing wickets at the WACA and SCG.
2) Injury to Stuart Broad. Yes, he only took one wicket in two Tests, yes he bagged a golden duck in his only innings, but don’t underestimate the importance of StuBro. His Ebenezeresque economy rate of 2.3 runs per over has kept the Australian batting brilliantly under wraps. View him as the guy who holds Australian arms behind their backs and laughs while Anderson, Finn and Swann take it turns to punch them, without fear of retaliation. It remains to be seen whether England’s back-up seamers can do a similar job.
3) Australian youth. It seems inevitable that dashing opener Phil Hughes and leg spinning all-rounder Steve Smith will be in the Australian XI for Perth. Both of these young thrusters have the ability to score quickly and take the game away from England. Also, blond leg spinners usually do OK against England.
4) History. Last England had battled to a draw, then won by an innings in two Tests against South Africa. By the end of that four match series, England had fully imploded and were clinging on to a 1-1 scoreline. A repeat performance would leave England hanging on to the urn going into the fifth Test at Sydney, with a revitalised Aussie team, a wearing pitch and baying crowd at their backs. What’s more, England have won one out of 11 at the WACA.
In the words of one time quite popular now just quite pants band the Klaxons – it’s not over, not over, not over, not over, yet.