Image: Wikimedia Commons/Tmx468
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Tmx468

England earn a 2-2 draw in the Ashes after Australia loses the 5th Test

As this fabulous summer of cricket, and sports in general, comes to a close, the Ashes offered up a final test that England won to level the series. With the urn already retained by Australia, England put in their most convincing performance of the series. In a large part, they have Australia captain Tim Paine to thank, Paine having given them a great advantage by electing to bowl first. Though England did not bat particularly well, fine scores by Denly, Root, and Buttler enabled them to establish a first-innings lead over Australia. They then proceeded to post another solid score and bowl the tourists out, eventually winning the test by 135 runs.

Despite all the pre-match talk of wanting to win the series, Australia never really seemed up for the game. Poor fielding and decision-making were compounded by injuries to both Paine and bowler Peter Siddle. Even Steve Smith, the winner of the Compton-Miller Medal for the man of the series, seemed jaded as he posted scores of 80 and 23. Yet on the final day of the test, as Australia slumped to defeat, Matthew Wade made a fine century (117) while looking to cement his place in the Australian middle order. Wade engaged in, and won, a feisty duel against Jofra Archer, who himself had a terrific game, taking 6fer in the first innings.

Ben Stokes was named as England’s player of the series, yet any of Rory Burns, Stuart Broad or Jofra Archer could have also received the accolade

England put in their best team performance of the series. Though neither of their innings showed superb batting, they at least posted manageable scores for the bowling attack to defend. As mentioned, Archer blew Australia away in the first innings, and Broad did likewise in the second. Though Joe Root will rue not being able to bring the Ashes back to England, he can at least end his summer on a positive note. Ben Stokes was named as England’s player of the series, yet any of Rory Burns, Stuart Broad or Jofra Archer could have also received the accolade. Stokes produced the miracle at Headingley, and it is he, alongside Steve Smith, who will be remembered in this series.

With the dust settling on this tumultuous summer, the England players will be afforded a good rest. It won’t be until November 20 that they take to the field against New Zealand in Tauranga. When they do it will likely be under the leadership of a new head coach as Trevor Bayliss departs. This new coach, along with the selectors and Joe Root, will have to find solutions to questions surrounding the fitness of Jimmy Anderson if he is fit. Most cricket fans, English or otherwise, are willing Anderson to make it back so that we can finally see him, Broad, and Archer bowling in tandem. Furthermore, England’s batting lineup needs to be revised. Though Joe Denly had a strong finish to the series, at 33 he is unlikely to still be around come the next Ashes. With Bairstow and Roy also short on runs, many will hope that England will take younger players such as Ollie Pope and Dominic Sibley so as to test them before the next Ashes.

Had you offered England the World Cup and a drawn Ashes series at the start of the summer, they would have snatched it with both arms

England would also do well to look at Foakes to take over the gloves from Bairstow. Though he has not been going too well in the County season, he is undoubtedly England’s best wicketkeeper, and if England are going to have a low-scoring middle-order batsman, they might as well be good at keeping wicket. Joe Root will also hope that he will be among the runs in the winter tests. A batsman of Root’s caliber would expect to score more than 325 runs in a 5 test match series, and his penchant for not converting 50s into 100s looms larger with each failed conversion. Each innings it feels almost inevitable that Root will reach 50, and even more inevitable that he will fail to convert. England need not ask Root to be their Kohli or Smith, he isn’t on their level. Yet reflecting on this series, it is hard not to see Root being bowled for a golden duck as the light faded on the penultimate day of the fourth test as the moment that the urn slipped inexorably out of England’s grasp.

Had you offered England the World Cup and a drawn Ashes series at the start of the summer, they would have snatched it with both arms. Though they will come away from this summer buoyed by their victory in the final test, England’s test side still have a long way to go as they make a foray into the new World Test Championship.

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