2The Ashes urnNo Star Shines Bright for Either Side

So the Ashes are now at end with Eng­land the vic­tors and Aus­tralia put back in their place. A 3–2 sco­reline flat­ters the green bag­gied ones a little but in truth the last test was a dead rub­ber for Eng­land. They were nev­er going to play to the same level on intens­ity as when they were try­ing to claim the little urn back from our Anti­podean cousins.

Through­out the series I’ve been try­ing to think of a com­bined elev­en across the two sides. And a star play­er. But in truth I think there’s a lot of, at best, good play­ers between the two sides who have played in the series and very few have per­formed to a good standard.

For Eng­land Joe Root con­tin­ued to impress and was the only pos­sible choice for man of the series (with the pos­sible excep­tion of Stu­art Broad). Moeen Ali (he should bat high­er – pos­sibly as open­er) also impressed with the wil­low if not neces­sar­ily the leath­er. Broad and Ander­son bowled well, some­times bril­liantly. Wood and Stokes con­tin­ue to prom­ise much. It’s good to see Steven Finn back although if everyone’s fit then he loses out. Tim Bresnan seems to have simply been ban­ished back to York­shire. Jos But­tler had a very poor series with the bat but is very com­pet­ent the oth­er side of the stumps. Ques­tions will be asked how­ever, giv­en Jonny Bair­stow is also per­fectly com­pet­ent with the gloves. Ian Bell has surely used up the last of his nine lives – he just can’t be relied upon when it mat­ters – and it remains to be seen if Adam Lyth will play test crick­et again. So many times he toiled for 10-odd runs only to find him­self trekking back to the pavil­ion. Cook also bat­ted pretty well and cap­tained well too (I will excuse his shock­er at the Oval).

No one really stands out for Aus­tralia at all. Steve Smith got runs but on Aus­sie friendly pitches and Peter Siddle should have played every game. What the vis­it­ors were think­ing not play­ing him from the start I will nev­er know. The open­ers also hit a few runs and Dav­id Warner finally got rid of that ridicu­lous mous­tache. A lot of this line up won’t be seen on these shores again.

Games were lost because of poor play on both sides rather than excel­lence from either Aus­tralia or England.

Going for­ward Eng­land can obvi­ously take the plaudits for the vic­tory and the con­fid­ence going for­ward but that must not cov­er up the cracks. Ali is a use­ful back up spin­ner – but isn’t going to reg­u­larly win matches. The middle order is too prone to col­lapse like Eng­land sides of old and it’s a little wor­ry­ing to see. The ques­tion of who part­ners Cook at the top of the order remains unanswered.

It will be inter­est­ing to see what Aus­tralia do with so many test careers now at an end or about to be.


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gravatarJon Scaife

For what it’s worth my com­bined team of the series (exclud­ing Rodgers who has retired) would be…

Cook (cp)
Bair­stow (wk)

It’s got run-scor­ing solid­ity in the top 4, and poten­tial runs down to num­ber 9. 4 seam­ers and 1 spin­ner. Except for Smith it’s well suited to Eng­lish con­di­tions. A shame it takes a com­bined 11 to get a genu­inely top side though.

gravatarJon A Scaife

Too early to drop Bell. Wait until there’s a com­pel­ling com­pet­it­or. The middle order needs some exper­i­ence for when Stokes has one of his mad moments.
Ali at 6, Stokes at 7 and But­tler at 8 seems worth a try.
I’d have Plun­kett in my 12 for a ser­i­ous pace option.
Time to try Rashid? Can­’t be long now.
The big unknown is who to open with Cook. Three pos­sible answers: bring back Trott, Trescothick or Boycott!