The recently concluded Test cricket series between England and Australia resulted in a 5-0 whitewash for the Australians. A very one-sided result, with very little fight seen from the British. But the series was interesting at least in a half way. This was mainly because Australia put up some excellent cricket both while batting and bowling. Seeing one side play so well is one interesting aspect of cricket, probably not seen in any other sport except athletics.
The groundwork for the whitewash was set in the mind of the British players. They thought that they had just won a home ashes series convincingly and faced no threat from the Australians. Hence they did not do their homework and they looked homesick.
The cricket conditions in Australia are entirely different from that in England. In England the ball remains relatively low and slow while swinging in the air. This is as much because of the pitch as due to moisture in the air in England. While in Australia the pitches are much faster, bouncier and swing much less. This again is as much because of pitch conditions as lack of moisture in the air in Australia. The ball is faster, bounces much higher and swings less consequently.
If we look at English bowlers who played in the series, only Broad is capable of bowling at over 140 Km per hour. Anderson bowls at 130 to 135 Km/hr. Steven Finn who can bowl at 145-150 Km/hr. was not played or selected for reasons best known to British captain and selectors. Bresnan can bowl at 130-135 Km/hr. Stokes can bowl at 135-138 m/hr. This meant England lacked a bowler who could exploit the fast, bouncy pitches and conditions in Australia. This is clearly demonstrated by success Broad got whenever he ran in fast and bent his back to bowl between 140-145 Km/hr. He got wickets.
Australian conditions need tall fast bowlers. England except for Broad at times had none. They failed to take wickets and Australia always managed to score above 300 ( except once) to put pressure on English batsmen.
Now coming to Australian bowlers, Mitchell Johnson bowled very fast and furious, most of the time between 145-150 Km/hour with lots of bounce and movement. He got plenty of wickets and broke the back of English batting to make it easy for other bowlers. Harris in particular exploited the other end well supported by Siddle.
The English batsmen who played well in English conditions just a few months back played poorly. Thus they cannot be said to be out of form. It was excellent bowling from the Australians and poor technique shown by English batsmen. They will have to learn playing fast bouncy bowling.
Because England lacked fast bowlers to exploit the conditions, it was easy for Australian batsmen. This was helped by the great form the Australian openers were in. Both David Warner in the first four tests and Chris Rogers in the last three tests played superbly to lay the foundation for Australian batting.They neutralized the new ball and took the shine off the ball and made it so much easier for the batsmen to follow.
Another factor, which undid the British, was lack of quality spin bowler. I think Graeme Swann had made up his mind to retire before the start of the series and was only half involved in the tests he played. England lacked a second quality spinner. For Australia Nathan Lyon did well on pitches which are not good for spinners.
Also Australian wicketkeeper Haddin helped by other bowler-batsmen bolstered the Australian lower half. This was another reason for Australian whitewash.
But as a positive, the British got Stokes who is a genuine all rounder who can take wickets and can be in the side purely as a batsman.
Cook’s lack of form told on his captaincy and he was short of confidence both as a batsman and captain. Michael Clarke looked at ease and led very well to exploit the conditions, bowlers, fielders and batsmen to extract the maximum out of his players. Maximum extraction unilaterally means a 5-0 whitewash in a Ashes unilaterally.