Ashes HQ ASHES HQ 2009

Looking Beyond the Ashes

An unfortunate aspect of England’s success is that the world seems to become an exceedingly grim place. Australian fans, not used to losing, grow hugely critical of their team, while English fans barely manage to escape their bubble of self-protective cynicism and focus on whatever bad can be found in their victories. You’d be forgiven for thinking that both teams were losing the Ashes.

On the contary, England’s success further ushers in an impending era of competitive cricket worldwide. For all their success, the current crop of players don’t appear to have the consistency nor the talent to dominate the game having lost their previous three series. Australia meanwhile might just about retain their status as the world’s number one team but will struggle to convince anyone they’re really the best side around.

Looking on from the sidelines is the world number two side, South Africa. Graeme Smith’s side has a winning mentality missing from the country’s previous sides, but struggle to dominate at home and missed a clear shot at stealing the world number one ranking from Australia earlier this year. Meanwhile, India are looking particularly strong on paper but still have something to prove- particularly away from home. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, find themselves dominating at home with a young, promising team but still struggle to take on the other sides everywhere else.

Should Australia come back and win this series, it will undoubtedly rival 2005 as the greatest Ashes series of the modern era. If England hold on for victory the cricketing world looks even more intriguingly poised than before with five teams all capable of beating one another on a regular basis.

It’s hard for fans of the two sides to look beyond the most important event in the cricketing calendar, but everyone else should be tingling in anticipation. For all I complain about flat pitches, umpiring errors and increasing commercialism, it’s really great to be watching one of the most competitive eras of cricket ever. The conclusion of the Ashes is only the beginning.

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