Opinion: I know what you did this summer…
We look back on some of the topics of conversation that kept social media afloat during the Ashes tour, sometimes for days, from the silly to the serious, the cricketing to the not, and the bright spots between the rain delays.
We've had two months of cricket between Australia and England, with some tour matches thrown in, seeing the hosts win the Ashes three-nil, the T20 series drawn one all, and the ODIs won by the Aussies in the fifth game.
Now we look back on some of the topics of conversation that kept social media afloat, sometimes for days, from the silly to the serious, the cricketing to the not, and the bright spots between the rain delays.
<b>1. Agar on my mind</b>
Australia teen spinner Ashton Agar's debut in the first Test came as a shock, given he was supposed to be an 'intern' and there was nothing wrong with Nathan Lyon. He came in to bat in the first innings with the Aussies reeling on 117 for nine, and went on to score the best Test knock by a number 11, ever.
He fell two runs short of his century, but his effort set the bar for excitement. His bowling was not as good as the selectors hoped and he was dropped after the second Test. Still, his innings is one of the first things people think of when asked for a summer highlight.
<b>2. Debuts often suck</b>
Speaking of debuts, they're usually middle-of-the-road, and often leave a lot to be desired. Shane Warne's debut saw him give up 150 runs for just one wicket, and he went on to become the best spinner in the world. England's Simon Kerrigan will hope he gets a similar chance, after his debut in the fifth Test saw him bowl just eight overs, for 53 runs, in an abject display.
In the ODI series, Michael Carberry's debut, after waiting for years to get his chance and serving the county game well, was similarly disastrous. He dropped two catches, and then made only 10 runs against Ireland. Subsequent games against Australia were similarly poor, until a half century in the fourth match salvaged some pride.
<b>3. For whom Ian Bell toils</b>
The Warwickshire batsman needed a good series after a laughably poor trip to India (aside from one century), a below average series against New Zealand and failures in the Champions Trophy. He rebound brilliantly with three centuries and two fifties in the Ashes, topping the batting list.
If it weren't for Bell, who was by far England's best batsman, England would not have won the Tests three-nil. The rest of the top order was not up to scratch, with only Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root scoring a century each, leaving Bell to do much of the heavy lifting.
<b>4. No pressure, Jimmy!</b>
After his 10-fer in Nottingham, all the talk was about James Anderson and the pressure on him to perform. Were England relying on him too much? Was the bowling attack weak if he failed to take wickets? No, as it turned out. He actually had good but not great Tests after that, until The Oval, where he took four wickets in the first innings.
<b>5. Swann must be on song</b>
Graeme Swann was actually England's best bowler, statistically, and took the most wickets in the Ashes. He never went an innings without a wicket, and his nine wickets at Lord's was key to the win. Neither he nor Anderson played in the limited-overs series, which notably weakened the attack, as James Tredwell and Joe Root found themselves carted around the park, unable to replicate Swann's results.
<b>6. Broad has little appeal</b>
One thing Twitter, and the media, showed us this English summer was that (aside from a few fan girls called the Broadettes) Stuart Broad is one of the least liked cricketers in the game. That's not to say people don't appreciate his efforts on the field, like his 11 wickets in Durham, but it appears the sight of his face puts people on edge. The non-walking incident, the fiddling with the shoe to waste time, the surly demeanour, all served to make him the go-to topic when a good moan was on the cards.
<b>7. We don't walk anymore</b>
Connected to the above point, Broad's failure to walk when edging Agar in Nottingham, and then going on to make a vital half century, ignited a debate about walking that continued till the end of the series. Most players, current and former, said "The umpire must give you out", but the man on the street/Twitter felt the 'spirit of the game' had been breached. As the tour wore on, there were more incidents of edges and bump balls, and no-one walked.
<b>8. DRS creates drama</b>
The use of DRS in the series, especially early on, was very poor from both captains, and the umpiring in the first two Tests drew the ire of the public more than once. Aleem Dar's failure to give Broad out in the aforementioned incident, and then Marais Erasmus overturning a decision against Jonathan Trott, was baffling.
Hot Spot didn't work in the latter instance, dooming Trott to a duck when it should have saved him by showing an inside edge. That system then gained more attention as accusations of trying to cheat the technology with silicone tape surfaced. All in all, it was a mess, and the ICC will have DRS at the top of the agenda when they meet in Dubai.
<b>9. Watson's LBW conundrum</b>
One player whose use of DRS became a joke during the tour was Shane Watson. He was given out LBW to the fast bowlers in almost every innings, and then, despite being advised against it by his partner, tended to review the call every time. He was usually wrong, wasting a review for when the Aussies really needed one later on. This even prompted David Warner's brother to call Watson all sorts of unpleasant things on Twitter, which was an amusing scandal on its own.
<b>10. Clarkson forever</b>
Speaking of scandals, the relationship between Watson and Michael Clarke was closely watched all tour, after former coach Mickey Arthur caused a media storm by claiming the pair couldn't stand each other. They seemed to get along well enough though, on the field anyway, and Clarke was seemingly instrumental in Watto's training ahead of his century-making fifth Test knock.
The duo also batted well together, using their experience in the fifth ODI to put on 163 together and thus win the match. It went to show that players don't have to like each other (if that's the case) to get results.
<b>11. We miss Punter and Mr Cricket</b>
Every Test wrap-up consisted of quotes from Ricky Ponting saying he wasn't considering coming back to the international game. He and Mike Hussey, retired from the Baggy Green but is superb form elsewhere, were sorely missed by Australia fans (and selectors, probably) as the team looked in vain for a number three worthy of the job. Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Ed Cowan all failed. Nine players used in three years… Will the 10th be the charm?
<b>12. A mountain of broke backs</b>
What is in the water Down Under? They currently have a heap of fast bowlers out of commission because of lower back problems, with James Pattinson the first to be struck down. Since then Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird also picked up similar knacks, while Ryan Harris was ruled out of action with a hamstring injury. Luckily, the Aussies have good
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