It's all over before Christmas... again

Submitted by Rick Eyre on December 19 2006, 10:41 pm

"What depresses me most is not the fact that England lose in Australia, but that they're laying down and dying."

These were the words of Ray Illingworth yesterday, one of the many who have tried and failed the seemingly impossible task of elevating England to a competitive cricketing nation.

The destiny of the Ashes for the rest of the millenium was settled yesterday when Australia crushed England by 205 runs in the Third Test at Adelaide to take an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the five-match series. In the first innings England's last five wickets fell in the space of 21 balls. In the second innings, the last five fell in 27 deliveries.

The English team can be grateful that the sensational resignation of Graham Kelly as FA chief executive pushed them off the lead story of the sports pages. Nonetheless, the English media showed their usual subtlety and aplomb in reporting their team's misfortunes in today's papers ("You Shamed The Nation" - The Daily Mirror, "Bloody Awful" - Daily Telegraph, "No Heart No Soul No Hope" - The Sun). Jonathan Agnew was a little bit more articulate in his condemnation, describing the team as "psychologically flawed".

Meanwhile, Ian Chappell is among the voices suggesting that England be demoted to a three-Test series against Australia in future.

- Rick Eyre, CricInfo365, 16.12.98

After 2005, it's business as usual once more. For the third time in a row, a Down Under Ashes series has been settled before Christmas. Only scheduling allows the record set in 2002 of the Ashes being settled on December 1 to stand.

It hasn't been all that close. England occasionally come within touching distance of Australia only to fall down a hundred-metre crevasse.

I have to admit that it's a really enjoyable moment for me when Australia regains the Ashes from England. It's happened five times in my lifetime, though the first of those came when I was six days old. Three I've witnessed live on TV: in January 1975, in January 1983, and yesterday. I fell asleep before Boonie hit the winning runs at Old Trafford in August 1989.

Midwinter-Midwinter points for the last three days of the Perth Test:
Day 3 (Saturday): Adam Gilchrist 3 pts; Michael Clarke 2 pts; Mickael Hussey 1 pt.
Day 4 (Sunday): Alastair Cook 3 pts; Ian Bell 2 pts; Glenn McGrath 1 pt.
Day 5 (Monday): Shane Warne 3 pts; Kevin Pietersen 2 pts; Andrew Flintoff 1 pt.