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Did Australia get lucky at Old Trafford? Yes. But England have only themselves to blame

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Last Updated on 10 months by Charbel Coorey

Ashes Opinion: Did Australia get lucky at Old Trafford? Yes. But England have only themselves to blame | Analysis on England’s shortcomings

Remember when Pat Cummins held a gun to Ben Stokes’ head forcing him to declare at 393/8 at Edgbaston with Joe Root on 118* and seeing them like beach balls?

Or when Cummins held the same gun to Stokes to keep Root bowling instead of taking the new ball in the dying moments of a thrilling first Test?

Or what about when Australia as a team forced England to bat recklessly in the first innings at Lord’s, squandering the advantage of being 188/1 in the glorious sunshine against a Nathan Lyon-less attack?

And, of course, Australia’s fielders dragging Jonny Bairstow out of his crease in the run chase to stump him.

No, these were England failings across the first two Tests of the series. Reactions to the drawn Old Trafford Test from areas of the England media and fanbase have once again bewildered the mind, placing the blame on other factors instead of the crucial shortcomings of the team at Edgbaston and Lord’s.

Were England unlucky at Old Trafford? Absolutely. Did they play Australia off the park? You bet. But looking at this Test alone as a measure of whether the Ashes urn deserves to go back to England or not is short-sighted.

England deserved to win at Old Trafford, but have themselves to blame for Australia retaining the Ashes

Piers Morgan says he can’t remember a less-deserved retention of the Ashes. Stuart Broad, who felt “magnificent” ten years ago as England retained the urn after rain ruined Australia’s chances at Old Trafford, described this episode as “unjust”. Joe Root has called for play to go on until 10pm, all the while Stokes had no issue with going 2-0 down in the first place.

There are also calls for reserve days, not taking a moment to consider the impact on players in an already jampacked schedule.

Just like in the aftermath of the Lord’s Test, England have no intention of looking inward. Everyone and everything else is to blame.

For goodness sake. England won all four tosses. They had the better of the conditions for the most part. Australia lost the glue of their attack – Nathan Lyon – mid-series, but it’s apparently England who are left to rue the worst luck anyone has ever experienced in cricketing history.

Ashes Opinion: Did Australia get lucky at Old Trafford? Yes. But England have only themselves to blame | Analysis on England's shortcomings
Sir Geoffrey Boycott reacts to soft Harry Brook dismissal at Lord’s

Think back to Lord’s. England bowled in overcast conditions in both innings, but still found themselves needing close to 400 to win. When they batted, glorious sunshine greeted them. Yet, there is very little analysis or even the mention of how gifting catches to fielders set in the deep when 1-0 down might just be the fatal blow with a Test still to come at one of the rainiest venues in world cricket.

Instead, it was about the injustice to Bairstow and Australia’s supposedly awful act. Give us a break.

The “spirit of cricket” is nothing but a card England choose to play depending on the decision. Should it go against them, the opposition must be hounded for not playing in the right spirit. After all, elite international cricket is the place to give someone who made a schoolboy error a warning or second chance.

If the decision goes for them, it’s a brilliant piece of cricket, ala Bairstow to Samit Patel in county cricket, or a piece of play they are entitled to, ala Stuart Broad edging to slip and standing his ground.

Back to the series. Let’s go back further to Edgbaston. If you think Ben Stokes’ declaration had no impact on the result, it’d be great to know why. Australia were run ragged at that point, and were on the receiving end of a run-a-ball 43-run stand by Root and Ollie Robinson that they didn’t look like breaking anytime soon.

Yet, Stokes did what the opposition would rather him do and took the foot off the throat. In the end, England narrowly lost, with the tactics and decision making to Cummins and Lyon also in the spotlight.

England’s questionable decision-making against a side willing to sit back and wait for mistakes has cost them dearly. Australia’s defensive mindset and willingness to allow every England batsmen to get off to a start has caught up with them somewhat, but it is too late for McCullum, Stokes and co.

Ashes Opinion: Did Australia get lucky at Old Trafford? Yes. But England have only themselves to blame | Analysis on England's shortcomings
Ben Stokes’ declaration at Edgbaston proved costly.

Now let’s discuss another point – England’s sentimental selections. Jonny Bairstow, following his 99 not out, shared his experience of suffering a serious injury last year.

“There’s times when there’s aches and pains and people are saying you’re limping, well, yeah, I am at times, because there’s a lot going on in the ankle, and other bits that people won’t understand,” he said. “It’s been a rollercoaster. There’s been a lot that’s happened in those nine months. And to come out and take the field again, with a group of boys that I care a heck of a lot about, is a special place for me to be.”

Despite this, England decided to throw Bairstow into the deep end with the wicket-keeping gloves with arguably the world’s best keeper – Ben Foakes – ignored.

It proved to be costly. Bairstow missed a number of chances throughout the first two Tests in particular, with Alex Carey’s keeping proving to be a pivotal difference between the teams.

Also, England decided to bring Moeen Ali back out of retirement to replace Jack Leach, two years on from his last Test. While Moeen contributed at Headingley and Manchester, his selection at Edgbaston gave England’s attack a light look and feel with three similar-paced seam bowlers wheeling away at the other end. Predictably, Moeen’s finger was unable to handle the far greater workload, and England suffered because of it.


The BazBall style is a sight to behold; a delicious treat you feel obliged to enjoy. But how in love they are with it makes you want to throw it all up.

Stuart Broad is a wonderful bowler who notched up his 600th wicket. But, is he the man to lecture us on the spirit of cricket? Alex Carey will be remembered for one thing according to Broad, but moral victories, lack of accountability, failing to regain the urn for a third-straight time is how this England team will be remembered down under.

Onto The Oval.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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