Cricket’s oldest spectacle got even more spectacular this time around. In a thrilling culmination to what has been a truly memorable English summer, England drew the Ashes Test series with Australia 2-2 by handing their rivals a 135-run shellacking in the final match at the Kia Oval in London! The hosts secured the win with a brilliant all-round performance—Jos Buttler and Joe Denly scored heavily, while new pace ace Jofra Archer took down Australia in the first innings to hand England a crucial lead. In the fourth innings, Stuart Broad did what he does best and took out the Aussies. Despite a maiden five-wicket haul from the returning Mitchell Marsh, and runs from Matthew Wade, Steve Smith, and Marnus Labuschagne, Australia couldn’t overcome the hosts. But England know that they needed this earlier in the series, for their rivals were certainly the dominant force in this series. Before the series started, England were clear favorites—but thanks to Steve Smith and his record-breaking run of form, the Aussies’s find of the series, Marnus Labuschagne, and the No.1 ranked Test bowler, Pat Cummins, Australia very nearly won the series, with star all-rounder Ben Stokes and captain Joe Root the main reasons England managed a tie. That said, English fans won’t mind too much—a summer of amazing cricket that saw their team lift the World Cup and draw the Ashes is a good summer indeed. There is one thing they’ll mind, though. When an Ashes series is drawn (a situation that last arose in 1972), the trophy remains with the team that held it before the series– and thanks to Australia’s 4-0 annihilation of England Down Under at the end of 2017, Australia fly back home with the Ashes still theirs. Rest assured that when England next visit their old rivals, they’ll have their eyes on the prize.
The ATP Cup
Professional tennis so far has predominantly been about personal glory. The ATP Cup, starting early next year, is set to add a welcome twist to that tale. Spread across three cities and ten days in Australia, this is where players team up as countrymen to represent their nation on the world stage. They play not for themselves, but “for the love of country”. The draw is split into 24 teams which qualify for the Cup based on the ATP ranking of their No. 1 singles player. Hence Novak Djokovic, the world number one, leads his country Serbia into qualification, followed by Spain through Rafael Nadal, Switzerland through Roger Federer and so on. Australia automatically qualifies by virtue of its status as the host country. The teams are split into six groups, groups A through F, with each group having four teams. The three cities – Brisbane, Perth and Sydney – each play host to two groups for the group stages of the Cup. The knockout phase shall be held at the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney. Starting January 3 next year, before even the Australian Open, the Cup is set to provide a sparkling start to the year and inspire players to make their nation proud.
What’s in store?
Next week’s round-up will feature more from the India-South Africa bilateral series, as well as glimpses into the Caribbean Premier League and Women’s Big Bash League. In football, Premier League action will take the centre-stage. Till then, stay tuned!