For what I am about to say may I be struck down from above…but I am glad that this Ashes series is at an end. Quite simply Australia have played far better than the sum of their individual parts and England have been, for the large part, absolutely diabolical.
As sure as night follows day the Aussies wrapped up a devastating 5–0 series win, yet again bowling England out for a pitiful total not worthy of an international line up. The visitors now need to go back, re-group and pick up the pieces from this potentially disastrous tour down-under.
‘Potentially’ is a word that is used with great care. Inquests have already started into what went wrong and who must take the blame. It is important of course to ‘learn lessons’ but hopefully this tour was but an aberration for a once highly successful and capable team (yes, really!). Just as one swallow does not make a summer, one snow flake does not make a winter. Fingers crossed it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances that all came together two wreak havoc on the visiting side. All batsmen lose form at one time or another – perhaps this was just the moment for everyone to slip up. Combine that with the best English spinner for a generation deciding to finish on a low and you are already going to be struggling. Some players have also clearly been in need of a rest – captaining the side and opening the batting is always a big ask and Alistair Cook has looked tired of late. Matt Prior and Jimmy Anderson have for too long had too much responsibility laid on their admittedly broad shoulders. Then of course there was the unfortunate development in the case of Jonathan Trott. Very sad and everyone wishes him well. It’s doubtful, however, that he will play international cricket again. If he does it won’t be at the same level. Some of the squad have also been at the start of their international careers – Joe Root has the necessary skills to make it at international level and is worth persevering with – but it will take time. Michael Carberry will flourish at one day level but the test arena is a little above his skill set. Jonny Bairstow is worth keeping on the fringes – although question marks remain about his ability to deal with the short ball. He is not a first choice pick. Then of course Ben Stokes has stepped forward and grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Runs and wickets when everyone else around you is losing their head is a fantastic accomplishment. Definitely one for the future and the one bright light to come gleaming out of the tour.
It is of course very easy to look at this tour and say all is lost. It may well be – England might be a busted flush – but there is hope yet as well.
Review of the tour – individual England and Australia players and their series ratings (not out scores not doubled in averages)
Alastair Cook – 246 runs, 3 half centuries, top score of 72 – avg of 24.6
Captain Cook led from the front and set the tone for the dismal show from the entire team. Poor batting (albeit measured against his incredibly high standards) as well. England expect and need him to lead from the front. He didn’t 3
Michael Carberry – 281 runs – 1 half century, top score of 60 – avg of 28.1
England’s second highest run scorer (although played an extra test than Stokes just behind him in the runs scored column) – regularly flattered to deceive and likely that age and poor shot selection throughout the series will mean he doesn’t play at test level again. Can do a job at one day level 4
Kevin Pietersen – 294 runs – 2 half centuries – top score of 71 (avg of 29.4)
Scored the most amount of runs in the England side but came in for substantial criticism. Pieterson is able to play the long and patient innings when he puts his mind to it – but rarely bothers – even if it is what is needed. It is a major weakness of a brilliant player but he won’t ever change so there is no point trying to make him – at least you know what you get with him 5
Ian Bell – 235 runs – 2 half centuries – top score of 72 (avg of 23.5)
Bell is becoming Mr Dependable for England. Played a couple of useful innings including carrying his bat in one. England can’t keep relying on him to rescue the side 5
Joe Root – 192 runs – 1 half century – top score of 87 (avg of 24); 32 overs, 5 maidens, 98 runs, 0 wickets
Dropped for the final game but clearly remains in England’s plans going forward. Has the talent and the temperament to succeed and the management need to decide where his best position is in the batting order. Shame he couldn’t contribute more with the ball. 4.5
Matt Prior – 107 runs – 1 half century – top score of 69 (avg of 17.83)
Another dismal series and the selectors showed they are not afraid to drop a senior pro like him. If there was a ready made replacement it’s likely Prior’s days would be seriously numbered but at the moment no one is laying down a serious challenge. He will be back in the summer 4
Ben Stokes – 279 runs – 1 century – top score of 120 – (avg of 34.87); 116.5 overs, 15 maidens, 492 runs, 15 wickets (32.80 runs per wkt)
Comfortably England’s best player – third in the overall runs scored list (having played a test less than the others) and second highest wicket taker – the one shining light in a very dark series for England. Still a little rough around the edges but England have a real diamond on their hands 8
Stuart Broad – 155 runs – top score of 42 – (avg of 15.5); 161.5 overs, 24 maidens, 578 runs, 21 wickets (27.52 runs per wkt)
It was always difficult for England’s bowling attack to make any real in-roads into a dominant and cock-sure Australian side, especially when their batsmen never managed to apply any leverage by scoring a decent total. Behind Stokes, Broad was England’s best player. Decent amount of wickets and a few runs 6.5
Jimmy Anderson – 41 runs – top score of 13 not out — (avg of 4.1) ; 190.3 overs, 43 maidens, 615 runs, 14 wickets (43.92 runs per wkt)
Like his fast bowling partner, Anderson suffered from no support from the batting line up and is clearly in need of a rest. England’s management need to send him home and make sure his batteries are re-charged for the home tests – he will still take plenty of wickets in English conditions 5
Graeme Swann – 36 runs – top score of 19 not out (avg of 6); 142 runs, 21 maidens, 560 runs, 7 wickets (80 runs per wkt)
Disappointing final series for the best English spinner in a generation and failed to contribute a meaningful score with the bat either. Swann must be remembered for his previous endeavours and not this final hurrah 4
Tim Bresnan – 34 runs – top score of 21 (avg of 8.5); 62.3 overs, 14 maidens, 206 runs, 5 wickets (41.2 runs per wicket)
Just a couple of tests for Bresnan to prove himself after a lengthy lay off. Contributed nothing with the bat but bowled economically at times. Always looks good when others around him are playing well too but an un necessary luxury when the side is struggling. Jury is still out on his place in the side – 4.5
Monty Panesar – 4 runs — top score of 2 (avg of 1); 70.5 overs, 9 maidens, 257 runs, 3 wickets (85.66 runs per wkt)
Usual flood of runs from the bat of Monty! With Swann having closed the curtain on his international career it’s likely Monty will be the first name the selectors turn to in the future given the lack of ready-made options. England put a lot of faith in the player after his recent off-field issues but Australia decided to get after any twirler that came their way; Monty was no exception. 3.5
Jonny Bairstow – 49 runs – top score of 21 (avg of 12.25)
Picked ahead of Prior for the final two tests but failed to put a marker down with either bat or gloves. Occasionally showed glimpses of having what it takes to succeed at this level by counter-attacking against a rampant opposition. Is likely to remain on the fringes of the side as a keeper-batsman simply because there are no stand out alternatives. But the management must stay awake at night praying for Matt Prior to rediscover his form of old. 4
One test wonders:
Jonathan Trott – 19 runs – top score of 10 (avg of 9.5)
Tortured batting display in his one test – followed by announcement that he was departing the tour. England missed the once rock of the side – fingers crossed he can comeback – but it’s a long road ahead
Gary Ballance – 25 runs – top score of 18 (avg 12.5)
Very difficult time to make his debut in a side (batting line up especially) devoid of any confidence. Must be given a proper chance to succeed.
Chris Tremlett – 15 runs – top score of 8 (avg 7.5); 36 overs, 5 maidens, 120 runs, 4 wickets (avg of 30 runs per wicket)
Not bad bowling stats hide the fact that he has lost a yard of pace since last on Australian shores. With the emergence of Stokes to support Anderson and Broad in the bowling unit and Onions chomping at the bit back home his days would appear numbered.
Scott Borthwick – 5 runs – top score of 4 – avg 2.5; 13 overs, 0 maidens, 82 runs, 4 wickets (20.50 runs per wkt)
A brave decision by the selectors to pick a leg-spinner (the first leggie since Ian Salisbury played his last test in 2000 (against Pakistan) – especially given the Australians’ determination to get after any spinner presented to them – Borthwick at least claimed a few scalps. England must decide who their spinner is going to be (Monty; Kerrigan or Borthwick) and the stick with them for a decent amount of time to see who has what it takes (if any of them). Borthwick must play the next test if conditions suit.
Boyd Rankin – 13 runs – top score of 13 (avg of 6.5); 20.5 overs, 0 maidens, 81 runs, 1 wicket (81 runs per wkt).
Has so far succeeded at one day level – needs more time to see if will develop into a mainstay of the side but will face considerable opposition when the side is back on home soil.
And now for the Australians!!!
Chris Rogers — 463 runs, 2 centuries, 3 half centuries, top score of 119 (avg of 46.3)
Along with his opening partner David Warner Rogers time and time again got his side off to a good start with consistent performances – two tons and two half centuries says it all 7.5
David Warner – 523 runs, 2 centuries, 2 half centuries, top score of 124 (avg of 52.3)
Exactly the same as his partner Rogers, with only a few runs separating them. Has more than repaid the selectors’ faith in him following the off-field antics 8
Shane Watson — 345 runs, 1 century, 2 half centuries, top score of 103 (avg of 34.5); 47.4 overs, 17 maidens, 122 runs, 4 wickets (avg per wkt of 30.50)
Useful contribution with the bat but able to bowl a few useful overs and keep the pressure up as well by taking of wickets 7
Michael Clarke – 363 runs, 2 centuries, top score of 148 (avg of 36.3)
Two outstanding and consecutive tons surrounded by mediocre totals; no matter – he strained every last sinew out of his entire team to demolish and demoralise England and claim a 5–0 whitewash 8.5
Steven Smith – 327 runs, 2 centuries, top score of 115 (avg of 36.33); 11 overs, 1 maiden, 58 runs, 1 wicket (avg per wicket 58)
Heralded as the series Smith came of age – are his runs down to his brilliance or collective ineptitude on England’s part. It’s a 50/50 call in my opinion – if he does the same when facing the South African pace battery when overseas then I’ll keep my trap shut 7
George Bailey — 183 runs, 1 half century, top score of 53 (avg of 22.87)
The one weak(ish) link in the Australian side with a disappointing series overall 5
Brad Haddin — 493 runs, 1 century, 5 half centuries, top score of 118 (avg of 61.62)
Derided as a journey man (by me), Haddin was simply at the top of his game and knocked his critics for imperious sixes. England simply had no answer to him. He was the joint top player of the series — 10
Mitchell Johnson — 165 runs, 1 half century, top score of 64 (avg of 20.62); 188.4 overs, 51 maidens, 517 runs 37 wickets (avg of 13.97 runs per wkt)
Simply outstanding. England just couldn’t cope with his pace – although again this says as much about the opposition than it does Johnson. But you can only bowl at what you are presented with and he lapped up the tasty morsels with great aplomb. More than one quarter of his overs was a maiden too. Excellent effort for a quick. Joint top player for Australia and overall 10
Ryan Harris – 117 runs, 1 half century, top score of 55 (avg of 19.5); 166.2 overs, 50 maidens; 425 runs, 22 wickets (19.31 runs per wkt)
Brilliant Ginger to Johnson’s Fred, what his fellow quick didn’t deal with Harris picked up. A perfect foil for Johnson and managed to stay fit as well. A few useful runs and again gave very few runs away with 50 maidens 9
Peter Siddle – 38 runs, top score of 21 (avg of 5.42); 156.4 overs, 48 maidens, 386 runs, 16 wickets (avg of 24.12)
If Fred and Ginger ever decided to employ an extra then Siddle would have been it. His bowling danced around the pitch as his targets displayed the footwork of club cricketers. If Johnson or Harris didn’t get you then Siddle would – a brilliant triple act – leaving England with no chance 8
Nathan Lyon – 60 runs – top score of 18 not out (avg of 10); 176.2 overs; 42 maidens; 558 runs, 19 wickets (29.36 runs per wkt)
Rather over-shadowed by the pace trio Lyon still picked up 19 wickets and was an integral part of the bowling attack 8
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