The first phase of The Ashes 2013 comes to an end with England winning the series and retaining the URN comfortably. Third consecutive Ashes for England and Cook's first in his very first attempt. Right from the Ashes promo "You hit me once," England's official tag #rise, Aussies official tag #returntheurn the buildup to this series was very good. This series had enough controversies on DRS and made everyone including myself to know why BCCI is opposing the DRS.
England had one match winning bowling performance from any one of their bowlers in every match. Anderson in the first, Swann in the second and Broad in the fourth. And, Bell scored a century in all those victories, definitely Bell's Ashes it is.
First Test: The first test was an absolute thriller, it had all the things to it as an excellent test match, with a dream debut by Agar, DRS controversies, the last wicket partnership which almost took the game away from England, perfect start for the much expected series. England finally manages to win the test with the help of excellent knock by Bell in second innings and a fantastic bowling from Anderson, who was the MoM.
Second Test: So we thought Aussies are not going to surrender easily, but in the second test it was all too easy for England and placed their hand firmly on the URN. Bell once again made a century in the first innings and Root played an excellent innings to score 180 in the second innings, also the MoM and it was Swann this time who took the responsibility of the bowling department and finished with nine wickets in the match.
Third Test: Looked like Aussies struggle against spin was not over. The third test was really a turnaround for the Aussies. Captain Clarke finally played a brilliant innings which gave the Aussies the upper hand. I thought Aussies going to win and will make a comeback in the series, but rain helped England to draw the match and retain the URN.
Fourth Test: I thought Aussies are back, they played excellently in the third test, so I expected them to win at-least one game from here. They played brilliantly in this test, Harris was outstanding with his bowling. And, chasing 299 to win they had a 100 run opening partnership for the first time in the series, they were on the road to victory. Still I had a fear this Aussies will collapse at any moment like our team India and it was what happened exactly. This time Broad took a six-for, MoM and England won the game comfortably and also the series as well.
Fifth Test: Just a formality for England and pride at stake for the Aussies. Aussies dominated the test, thanks to Watson, finally gets some form and slammed a century. He had the worst Ashes, was batting in all the positions. But with rain washing out most of the days and England playing very slowly I thought this test is heading towards a draw. But, what a final day it was, should appreciate Clarke for his sportive declaration to make a match out of this dead rubber. And, then comes KP who almost took the game away form Aussies. Aussies where at the sight of a 4-0 loss, started bowling negative lines, wides, taking more time to set the field, false run up by the bowler, Clarke's argument with the umpires, 21 to win from four overs, with all the drama it was an anti-climax when bad light stopped play. Aussies were happy to run off the field. England doesn't have any reason to complain since it was only because of Clarke's declaration in both the innings they made a match out of this and would be happy to win the series 3-0. Aussies showed their true colors during the final day. Almost 4-0 for England, anyway a perfect final day for the Ashes.
Most of us support the team playing against Aussies even if it's Pakistan. I think for the first time I was supporting Aussies and they did what I was expecting them to do in the past years when I hated them the most.
If Aussies have managed to win that close first test, if rain stayed away during the third test, the result of the series could have been different. I don't know whether this is the best England side or this the worst Australian side. I hope the #returntheurn will work for Aussies when the Ashes returns to Australia for the second phase.