Let it be known that I am not a pessimist yet merely a realist. However I was made to bubble with pessimism whilst reading the praise that has been dished out in spades to the Ashes winning England team.
TMS (test match special) on radio 5 live were busy declaring that Stuart Broad is the next Freddie Flintoff. Paul Haywood in the Guardian was waxing lyrical about the greatness of Andrew Strauss's captaincy. Then to top it all off almost everyone jumped on the band wagon and said that if we beat South Africa over the winter then we will be the worlds number one test side!
In fact the only voice of reason that I could find amongst the rest was that of Angus Fraser in the Independent who was quoted as saying: "Had either England or Australia played like this against South Africa or India they would have been comprehensively beaten".
I completely agree with the former England pace man. At the end of the day both England and Australia are average sides.
So why is it then that everyone in the media has gone berserk following England's victory? The first reason is that the Ashes has become a franchise all of its own. Every company under the sun has cashed in on its popularity, as the ashes along with Wimbledon fill the void left by Premiership Football's summer break. When it comes to winter though with the Football season in full swing all those supposedly cricket mad companies will have totally forgotten that England are playing a test match in South Africa.
The second reason the media is cashing in now on this victory is they know it will be back to normal all too soon! I believe we have no chance of beating South Africa and I think we have even less of a chance of retaining the ashes in Australia. This is why:
1. We still don't have a recognised strike spinner. Sure Swann can turn it on a cow patch like the 4 day old pitch at the oval, and yes Monty can have his moments. Both are finger spinners though and on flat hard pitches in the sub continent they will get about as much spin as a melon shaped Frisbee.
2. We have no genuine pace. Bowlers like Anderson and Broad always look good in England because the ball swings. This therefore masks their downfalls in other departments, such as line and length, their ability to move the ball off the seam and pace.
3. Support. All of our players love being roared on by the England crowd but how many times have we seen those same players crumble abroad. Trescothick had a mental break down, Harmison goes dizzy if he leaves Durham, and lets face it the large majority of these middle class lads haven't even been sworn at before. So the Aussie welcome party that will await them will probably have them beat before they have even touched a ball.
To sum up and give comment on the examples of praise that I gave at the start of this rant. Broad has potential but to label him the next Flintoff is crazy, Andrew Strauss is no where near as astute a captain as Michael Vaughan and doesn't have the leadership skills that even Nasser Hussain had, and England are perhaps the second best team in the world BUT only in England. Anywhere else and we are decidedly average.