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The Australian Cricket Team celebrate in the change rooms after retaining the Ashes
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Some time around 2012, an internet movie geek unearthed what was quickly tagged the worst death scene in cinema history.

It is from a Turkish martial arts film, Karateci Kiz, which translates as Karate Girl. Other geeks claim it was an influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. That might be stretching it a little.

At Karateci Kiz’s climax, Ferruh Durak, the villain — played by the late actor Bulent Kayabas — endures a protracted and comically overblown death lasting several minutes.

The Australian Cricket Team celebrate in the change rooms after retaining the Ashes

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The Australian Cricket Team celebrate in the change rooms after retaining the Ashes

He is first unmasked by having his blond wig removed — the disguise is about as subtle as Little Britain’s ‘lay-dees’ — and resists in an unconvincing fight scene in which he is thrown around the room by his female adversary, while always contriving to land fortuitously on a bed, breaking his fall.

Ferruh pulls a knife, takes several clumsily obvious swipes and misses each time before being disarmed. Close-ups reveal his hammy looks of fear and surprise.

On pulling a gun he is beaten in the draw and shot, yet only starts bleeding when he places a hand to his wounded torso and rather obviously detonates a blood bag within.

He is then gets shot several times more and collapses after much frantic mugging, but again on the bed.

It really is quite atrocious not least because it is quite obvious at the start how the scene will end, yet the audience must sit through every cringing cliche, rolling their eyes, tapping their fingers, waiting for the inevitable denouement. England went down much the same way at Old Trafford.

Josh Hazlewood appeals after trapping England's Craig Overton LBW for the final wicket

Josh Hazlewood appeals after trapping England's Craig Overton LBW for the final wicket

Josh Hazlewood appeals after trapping England’s Craig Overton LBW for the final wicket

Alcohol being involved there were no doubt some light-headed optimists who felt the Ashes could be saved by a loose association of tailenders and batsmen desperately trying to play themselves into form under incredible pressure.

For neutrals, and the sober, this was always heading one way.

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That it took until 6.14pm for the Fourth Test to be lost and the urn retained, is due to no little courage in adversity from Craig Overton, Jack Leach, Joe Denly and Jos Buttler, but it wasn’t enough, as it was never going to be.

The ticker — as the Australians call it — shown on Sunday deflects from what was clearly another resounding defeat. Australia won this Test by 185 runs.

That isn’t close and only the time taken out of the game by the weather made it appear so.

Australia were much better in Manchester, just as they were in Birmingham and for a significant portion of the Lord’s and the Headingley Tests too.

The days won by England so far in this series can be counted on one hand, and no thumbs.

Australia's players celebrate after they claimed victory to retain the Ashes on Sunday
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Australia's players celebrate after they claimed victory to retain the Ashes on Sunday

Australia’s players celebrate after they claimed victory to retain the Ashes on Sunday

Without the innings of a lifetime from Ben Stokes this would already have been a dead rubber.

That the series was still being played out as late afternoon gave way to early evening, as the floodlights glared and the umpires signalled one last hour with Australia still a wicket short of victory, meant that even the locals went home happy.

Leach dug in for more than an hour, his glasses steaming up and adding to the delays while the party stand — as Old Trafford’s temporary structure has been named — celebrated as if 20 remaining overs were actually 20 remaining balls.

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There is nothing this nation loves more than a rearguard action and a glorious defeat.

How many times is Dunkirk written up as if it was a military triumph, and not an abject defeat for the British Expeditionary Force, who were driven into the sea by Nazis?

This is what we do best. Heroic failure. We are a seafaring nation whose greatest explorer got to the South Pole second, then froze to death on the way home.

We loved Leach polishing his spectacles to the irritation of the Australian bowlers almost as much as we loved watching Stokes batter them to all parts of the ground in Leeds. Even if the gesture was ultimately futile.

Jack Leach takes a moment to clean his glasses as he and his team-mates tried to hold on

Jack Leach takes a moment to clean his glasses as he and his team-mates tried to hold on

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Jack Leach takes a moment to clean his glasses as he and his team-mates tried to hold on 

At one stage, romantics wondered if there might be a repeat of the First Test in Cardiff in 2009 when James Anderson and Monty Panesar somehow saw the day out as the last pair standing. 

The role of water carriers and physiotherapists became very important that afternoon too, not least one Steve McCaig, an Australian-born locum working for England, whose sporting idol was Ricky Ponting. Entering the field of play for another medical delay, he finally got to meet his hero, who memorably delivered the only words he would ever utter to him: ‘What the f*** are you doing out here, f*** off you fat c***.’

Pat Cummins seemed similarly motivated around the time England had two physios queuing up to get on the field to treat Craig Overton.

What a game Cummins had. Steve Smith won the man-of-the match award, inevitably, but it is hard to imagine that Cummins — already ranked the world’s No 1 bowler — could have played any better.

Smith will be man of the series too, no doubt, yet Australia’s bowling attack has been quite exceptional.

Cummins has taken 24 wickets in the series at an average of 17. Had Smith been anything less than superhuman, the paceman would unarguably have been the player of this Ashes.

Australia bowler Pat Cummins wheels away in celebration after dismissing Joe Root for 0

Australia bowler Pat Cummins wheels away in celebration after dismissing Joe Root for 0

Australia bowler Pat Cummins wheels away in celebration after dismissing Joe Root for 0

For all England’s resilience, it was the confidence, the certainty, of Australia that shone through on Sunday.

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They did not deviate from their strategies, they executed their best-laid plans and, if Smith is the batsman of the series and Cummins the bowler, then Tim Paine has been the superior captain.

Even when England were at their most cussed, Australia’s attack never appeared flustered, never went flat — as England’s has done on occasions.

Now, that could be the difference between bowling to Smith, who dispirits even the liveliest opponent, and facing an England team full of flaws and works in progress.

Yet it could have got away from Australia, as happened at Headingley, albeit in very different circumstances.

Paine ensured it did not. His decision to utilise the variation of Marnus Labuschagne, removing barnacle Leach with 15 overs and one ball to survive, was a masterstroke. England can still level the series by winning at the Oval but the Ashes is no longer at stake. This is Australia’s first successful tour here since retaining the urn in 2001 with the golden-era team.

Australia captain Tim Paine celebrates after seeing his side retain the Ashes at Old Trafford
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Australia captain Tim Paine celebrates after seeing his side retain the Ashes at Old Trafford

Australia captain Tim Paine celebrates after seeing his side retain the Ashes at Old Trafford

And while the current group are far from that, it could be argued few touring squads have ever been blessed with a strike pair as dynamic as Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Equally, the tourists use of their bowling resources has been impeccable. In football, and other sports, we are used to the concept of a squad game. In cricket, changes brought on by conditions aside, coaches and captains are more likely wedded to a best XI.

Yet James Pattinson was in, then out, Peter Siddle too. Mitchell Starc, Australia’s most potent force at the World Cup, was kept back until the fourth Test. This has been a very intelligent campaign.

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And on Sunday, when England briefly looked to be holding firm, the tourists kept on keeping on.

It was as if they had seen this film before and knew exactly how it ended.

Overton lbw Hazlewood, and England all out for 197. We may tell ourselves it was close but it wasn’t. Some may finesse this as heroic defeat but, in the end, there wasn’t even a nice soft mattress to cushion the fall.

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