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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