England versus Australia at Jaipur on Diwali was labelled as the mini-Ashes by many. Australia, having got the better of them comfortably, seem to have won a psychological advantage going into next month’s Ashes when England seek to retain the most historic trophy in world cricket.
The loss to Australia should not have any bearing on the Ashes for England. Or it could. One can never be sure. And so maintain their players, captain Andrew Flintoff and medium-pacer Sajid Mahmood. The English media, as much as their players, set their sights on the Ashes and pop up the question related to the longest traditional rivalry in world cricket even during the Champions Trophy.
Is the Ashes, which is spaced within a month of the Champions Trophy, the cause for England’s early exit from the tournament? Not long ago, skipper Andrew Flintoff stated that England were interested in ODIs and are not reserving all their resources for the Ashes so early. “We do care about ODIs,” he said a couple of days earlier.
And on Eid, England’s fast bowler Sajid Mahmood said: “England’s exit need not necessarily have any impact on the Ashes. We came here to win the Champions Trophy. We did not perform as well as we wanted to. The boys are keen to make amends."
As England, already exited from the tournament, take on West Indies on Saturday, Flintoff and his men would be keen to take a win back home. “A win is important for our development,” Flintoff said on Friday. “We have three weeks to spend time with family at home and then will be on the plane to Australia. My attention then will be focussed on Australia.”
Even West Indies’ captain Brian Lara was not spared of the Ashes question either. After West Indies’ win that came some 40 hours before taking on England on Saturday, Lara spilled the beans himself.
The skipper said, “England have not had a very good summer. Even when they were here in India earlier this year, they won only one game. With Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick not in the team, it is always going to be difficult for them.
We are not taking them lightly. They will play for pride, now that they are out of the tournament. But England have bigger things to worry, the Ashes is coming up next and I wish them well.”