London/Melbourne: Former England fast bowler and now cricket commentator Mike Selvey has revealed ten reasons why England was able to retain the Ashes against Australia Down after 24 years.
The reasons revealed in a newspaper are as follows:
The coach and the captain: Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss provided a management team as strong as any England have possessed. Both have earned and command utmost respect from a happy squad.
Resource: It has long been part of the England and Wales Cricket Board``s mission statement to win and hold on to the Ashes. At the insistence of the chairman Giles Clarke, and in pursuit of that goal and a drive to be recognised as the world``s leading team, the ECB has made large amounts available to Flower to recruit the best backroom staff, who in turn have use of the most advanced facilities.
Selection: The selection of the touring party was impeccable. Specifically, bowlers were chosen not only as injury cover for one another but as potential performers for each venue. For the first time, England in effect had a squad system rather than a first XI and back-up. The choice of Tim Bresnan for Melbourne was inspired, as was that of Chris Tremlett in Perth as replacement for Stuart Broad.
Local knowledge: In recruiting David Saker, Flower gained not only an immense bowling coach but someone with intimate knowledge of each of the Australian Test venues and Australian players, both batsmen and bowlers. Saker was instrumental in the choice of Bresnan for Melbourne and Tremlett for the tour.
Preparation: No England side has been better prepared for a tour than this one. Each warm-up game was treated full-on, with purpose. The XI for the first Test were played in those matches on Test grounds to gain a feel for them, and the bowlers were then sent ahead to Brisbane to acclimatise while the rest of the side went to Hobart.
Skills: In three of the four Tests, Australia was outplayed in all departments of the game. Of the main Australian batsmen only Mike Hussey was able to consistently match the determination, and shot selection, of the England batsmen. England``s bowlers, while not as fast overall, showed skills beyond the Australians, particularly in the use of reverse swing, and possess the world``s best spinner. No side in the world fields better or is fitter.
Strategy: Having a strategy is one thing, having the skills to apply it and then adhere to it another. England chose a lengthy batting order at the expense of an extra bowler believing that the way to beat Australia was with pressure of runs and, once the new ball had gone, the application of a tourniquet with the ball. Only in Perth, where they lacked technique to cope with bounce and movement, and the bowling nous to exploit conditions themselves, did they break ranks and it cost them.
Character: When England found themselves 221 adrift on first innings in the opening Test, the game seemed up before it had scarcely begun. They responded by scoring a total of 1,127 for six in the next two innings to draw the first match and then overturn the series by winning the second Test. When they lost in Perth it seemed the tide had turned once more. The response was a second victory by an innings. This is a team with character.
Toss: With the series on the line, Australia in the ascendant and a niggly first-day MCG pitch in prospect, Strauss won an important toss, put Australia in and prospered. If the call had gone the other way, and Ricky Ponting had forgotten his paranoia about inserting the opposition and done so, the game might have been a lot closer. As it was England had a first-day lead of 59 and all wickets in hand. They were going to struggle to lose from there.