0Australia urn their easy Ashes victory

With a ruth­less determ­in­a­tion and a killer instinct worthy of a wolf chas­ing a wounded deer, Aus­tralia duly com­pleted the rout of a demor­al­ised Eng­land this morning.

Eng­land simply haven’t turned up this series and a reju­ven­ated Aus­tralia have preyed on every weak­ness and every fail­ing to humi­li­ate what is still a pretty good side.

Win­ning a fourth con­sec­ut­ive Ashes series was a pretty tall order and it was one that was bey­ond Eng­land. The urn now returns to Aus­tralia (fig­ur­at­ively speak­ing, any­way!) and we no doubt won’t hear the end of it from our cous­ins on the oth­er side of the planet.

As Cook admit­ted in his post-match press con­fer­ence, Eng­land have been out­played in all areas and will, I sus­pect, claim a 5–0 tri­umph. It’s simply not their style to take their foot off the gas. The wolf has caught the prey, now he wants to fin­ish every last tasty morsel.

So what can Eng­land take from this series? Are there any positives?

Although it’s early days, Ben Stokes looks like the new cub off of the Durham pro­duc­tion line. He’s start­ing to prove me wrong, scor­ing runs and tak­ing wick­ets. He remains an unpol­ished dia­mond, a little rough around the edges, but with time and patience, a prom­ising inter­na­tion­al career awaits.

It’s import­ant to remem­ber that play­ers often don’t come to Eng­land as a fin­ished product. Just because he isn’t a front line bowl­er or a front line bats­man doesn’t mean he can’t become so. When Andrew Flintoff made his debut he was seen as a bats­man who was use­ful with the ball. Com­par­is­ons between play­ers are mis­lead­ing and can be harm­ful, heap­ing unne­ces­sary pres­sure on a prom­ising play­er to meet someone else’s stand­ards, but they can light a beacon for the way to devel­op a play­er. Coaches can see what pre­vi­ously worked and try it out on their new class. Here’s hop­ing Stokes can build on the prom­ising start he has made.

Michael Car­berry has also hin­ted of a hav­ing what it takes at the highest level to suc­ceed although at 33 he’s hardly one for the future and it’s dif­fi­cult to see any real dif­fer­ence between him and Nick Compton.

Oth­er than that it’s hard to pick any­thing out. All the bats­men have shown that they still have the abil­ity to score runs but have failed to show any con­sist­ency. They have also failed dis­mally to bat in part­ner­ships or to be able to put Mitchell John­son in his place or to smack Nath­an Lyon to all corners of the ground.

Jonath­an Trott’s absence has and will con­tin­ue to hit the side hard – not just because of his undoubted tal­ent but his work off of the field too. It’s a sad case and the issues he faces seem to have a dis­pro­por­tion­ate effect in the world of crick­et. Get bet­ter soon, Trotty.

As always the biggest ques­tion mark hangs over the head of Kev­in Pieterson. Bril­liant nat­ur­al tal­ent or selfish indi­vidu­al who bats for him­self and not the team? It seems strange for any cri­ti­cism to be lev­elled at someone who has scored in excess of 8,000 test runs for his coun­try. He is undoubtedly on his day one of the best ever plays to wear an Eng­land shirt. But his dis­missals seem to get dafter and dafter the more tests he plays. When the rest of the side isn’t fir­ing either his fail­ings become much more sharply focused. For me he should be kept in. For a start who do you replace him with? And when he’s good, he’s bril­liant. But any­one with designs on mak­ing him into a team play­er may as well give up now.

Plus points are also dif­fi­cult to pull out from the bowl­ing per­form­ances. Some of that can cer­tainly be put down to the col­lect­ive ineptitude dis­play by the bats­men. Bowl­ers need the former to put runs on the board for them to defend and that simply hasn’t happened. But per­form­ances have gen­er­ally been below par, with mediocre play­ers such as Smith and Had­din able to increase their aver­ages nicely.

Aus­tralia have been the bet­ter side. Well played — although they have shown a dis­tinct lack of class in the way they have handled them­selves (there’s been a dis­ap­point­ing lack of sports­man­ship in gen­er­al this series – from both sides). Time for Eng­land to lick their wounds and regroup – and, I hope, put this down a ter­rible blip in form.

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