The conclusion of the last Ashes Test in Perth seems a long, long time ago. For those with short memories, Australia’s victory saw the series between two supposedly evenly balanced sides (not quite as it turned out) levelled at 1-1 and Mitchell Johnson appeared to have rediscovered his mojo (oh dear).
Since then England have been waiting for someone, anyone to give them a bit of a contest. In the nine Tests following the end of the WACA Test, England have won seven Tests – five by an innings – and drawn two. Indeed, but for the atrocious English weather in May and June it could well have been nine wins out of nine.
The battle for supremacy between India and England turned out to be a bit of a damp squib as the tourists were brushed aside with contemptuous ease in a summer where England’s only fright came at Trent Bridge. For just short of two days, India appeared to hold the advantage until Stuart Broad’s hat-trick followed by a sublime hundred from Ian Bell completed a memorable England fightback.
One day internationals were another matter but when it came to two innings cricket, England appeared to be as impregnable as a sense of humility is to Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley.
So it comes as some surprise that (albeit in a warm-up game) England just scraped home by three wickets against a hotchpotch XI of associate cricketers grouped together under the auspices of an ICC Combined XI in Dubai. It is the first time that any opposition has had a whiff of victory against a white-clothed England since Perth some 386 days ago.
It does make one wonder if following a likely second successive 4-0 whitewash away from home, India might consider playing a three Test series against the Combined XI on their way home. Although on current form, one wouldn’t feel too confident about India’s chances.
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