I’ve checked out quite a few blogs about the Ashes series, but this one has to top the lot. I’d definitely check out http://theashes.typepad.com/
I especially like the way that he uses photographs to highlight the matches without violating any copyright laws, (you’ll have to visit the site to see exactly what I mean).

It’s written by an Aussie, so you would think it might be biased, but then us Pommies are great at making assumptions without getting to know the facts.
As you read more of the blog, you’ll find that first he is a Cricket fan and then an Aussie. (Ok, I think we can safely assume that he wants Australia to win).
He is of the same opinion as I am, in that I don’t really care who wins the Ashes. It has been such a great exhibition of Cricket that a true cricket fan could not complain about who wins in the end.

Ok, I’d be a bit disappointed if we (England) didn’t win the Ashes, but there has been such effort from both sides, I have gained more from watching it, than from who will win it eventually. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be supporting England from start to finish, but I’ve found myself on more than one occasion applauding great cricket from both sides.

So far my man/men of the series are:

1. Brett Lee – for his attitude and determination. I think he was responsible for the draw with a great show of batting. Both him and Shane Warne nearly won the last match and the passion/commitment he showed was amazing. He definitely had England worried (and me to the point that I couldn’t watch the match live anymore because every time I looked around a wicket had fallen). His and Shane Warnes effort inspired the rest of the team.

2. Shane Warne – Ball for Ball, Run for Run he has far out played Freddie Flintoff so far in this series. He is a character unto himself as well, the fact that he plays for Hampshire which is where I have lived for most of my life (other than Kent, Wiltshire and Texas, USA) is not the point. Watching him bowl is like watching fine art. You really have to look at it to appreciate its beauty and the skill employed. He is thinking at 110% on every single ball he bowls and has a great cricketing brain. His attitude with the bat is just the same. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Pieterson met him after he got out for a duck in the first innings. He will be remember for being one of the greatest players of my time (and not for sneaking off for a crafty smoke!!).

3. Michael Vaughn – For some of the most amazing field management I have ever seen. He really knows his stuff and has captained the side with great skill. As the captain of England trying to win the Ashes back, the pressure he is under must be immense. He also has the respect of all of his team mates which is rare for an England captain. He has managed to get a great team spirit going. Most often getting awarded the captaincy takes its toll on the player, and although his statistics have dropped somewhat, the results have more than made up for it.

4. England Bowling Team – All of the England bowlers deserve a mention, but Simon Jones probably leads the pack for determination and effort. I think it is our bowling that has made the difference between the teams. I think it began a few years back with the introduction of Darren Gough. He had the same ‘effect’ on the crowd and team as our ‘Freddie’ does now.

On the issue of subs that Darryl raises on his blog, I am in total agreement with him that there is something that is ‘not quite cricket’ about this. Ok, there have been subs played when players have had genuine injuries, and likewise for visits to the rest rooms etc. But I don’t want to see regular subs being played in order to give the bowlers a rest or to prepare them for their next stint of overs. The suggestion that teams could select ‘specialized’ fielders for specific positions could be too tempting for some and I would hate to see it abused in the future. (Not that I saying we are abusing it now, but the rules need to be changed to prevent it from happening).

So whatever happens in the last match, Cricket is the overall winner. This whole series has been so obviously between the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the world. It has been played in such a great spirit, and the respect that the teams have for each other is obvious. Best of luck to both teams in the final match and the best team will win. And I hope that we get 5 days of available cricket. What I would hate to see is 3-4 days of cricket, only for the match to be drawn because of the weather. If this happens, I reckon they should org anise another match, or, play 5 days worth of cricket no matter how long it takes. Both teams want to win the match outright, and not by default.

Good luck to Pontin, Vaughn and the teams… Thanks for a great series so far.