Ian Hart: It was Perth Déjà vu yet again for England!

England captain Joe Root. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)England captain Joe Root. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
England captain Joe Root. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Clearly the Australian arrogance I wrote about last week wasn't misplaced as four years, almost to the day, that England surrendered the Ashes, the hosts went into an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five match series.

Here we go again!

It was all looking so good, the statisticians told us after day one England had never lost a Test match in Perth after scoring over 300 on the first day. Then again, as I speculated last week, records are there to be broken.

What followed was the usual England batting collapse followed by an Australian batting masterclass, and while I enjoyed three cracking days off the field at the WACA, there was the usual inevitability about the whole thing. Not even the heaviest rain in Perth since The Beatles toured here could save England, and with the Ashes lost the media post mortems will begin.

Are we simply just not good enough?

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Not really, no. Obviously form and confidence and at times good old fashioned Lady Luck will play a part but I believe it’s our overall system at home that is flawed.

The central contracts system, while having its advantages, also dictates that our best players are very limited in the amount of county cricket they play. Ultimately, take out the salaries paid out, is that really the best thing for the development of our top level cricket?

Look at the stats and the top Aussies play far more domestic cricket in their summer than our senior players do back home.

Does the contracts system create almost an untouchable elite within our game?

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Last Saturday I watched Australia bat all day, score in excess of 350 runs and lose just one wicket in the process, against an England bowling attack bereft of any ideas and severely lacking in confidence.

Do we have players almost now forgotten in the county system that could have done a better job, and perhaps saved the game in the process? The one thing we do excel at, as do the Aussies, is preparing the wickets to favour the home team.

I said last week this is not the best Australian side by any stretch of the imagination and that’s why when the Baggy Green Caps arrive in England in 2019, they will have nearly as much of a mountain to climb as England did.

The tourists have not won an Ashes series for seven years, England being the last in 2010-11. If the respective groundsmen do their job, along with a huge shake up in English domestic cricket in the next year or so, it will be at least another seven years or more before either of the visitors on their respective tours return home with the famous urn. As I said to the crowing Aussies on Monday, August, 2019, is only 20 months away, and that’s when we will get them back, until 2021.

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Interspersed with all this was a 4am viewing of Albion’s game at Spurs last Thursday, followed by watching the Burnley game live at 11pm on Saturday.

With what was playing out at the WACA, disappointed doesn’t really cover it.

Clearly serious transfer activity is the order of the day in the January window. While it’s going to be a battle in the second half of the season, all those already writing the Albion off as relegation certainties are extremely premature.

And on that note it only leaves me to thank you all for reading this column throughout the year and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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