By George Marrable

  • Australia regained the Ashes after beating England 4-0.
  • Final game of the series saw Australia win by an innings and 123 runs.
  • Steve Smith led from the front for Australia throughout the series.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – England’s disappointing Ashes test series with Australia has come to an end, as Australia won the fifth and final test to take the series 4-0.

 

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Series Summary

Australia won the five match series 4-0.

  • 1st Test, Brisbane – Australia won by 10 wickets (1-0).
  • 2nd Test, Adelaide –  Australia won by 120 runs (2-0).
  • 3rd Test, Perth – Australia won by an innings and 41 runs (3-0).
  • 4th Test, Melbourne – Match drawn (3-0).
  • 5th Test, Sydney – Australia won by an innings and 123 runs (4-0).

 

Smith got the better of Root

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So much of the talk coming into the series focused on the two captains: Steve Smith and Joe Root. Number one and two in the test ranking respectively, both sides knew their skipper’s performances would be key in competing.

Unfortunately for England, it was Smith who won the battle of the captains as he was instrumental throughout the five test matches for Australia. The Australian captain was far and away the highest run scorer in the series, finishing with an average of 137.40 from the five matches.

England’s bowlers just seemed to have no answer for Smith, as he put them to the sword in every single match. Even before he came to the crease, Smith and Australia already had a psychological advantage over England; Smith was never expected to fail. England’s bowlers were bereft of ideas, and even when they thought they had a plan for him, Smith knuckled down and battled his way through.

Root, on the other hand, could not keep up with his opposite number. Whilst Root wasn’t necessarily poor in the series, averaging 47.25, his scoring was overshadowed by Smith. The England star struggled for consistency as he failed to convert his big scores into centuries throughout the series, with a high score of just 83 from five matches. Root and his side’s series was summed up on the final day of the Sydney test match as he retired with dehydration: exhausted and drained.

 

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England’s inconsistency was their downfall

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Australia dominated the series throughout, and it was expected they would get the victory against an England team that struggles away from home, but England had their opportunities. But when those opportunities arose, the tourists failed to grasp them.

Both the bowling and batting units struggled for any kind of consistency. From test to test; innings to innings, it was a mystery as to who would step up and perform. In the bowling attack, James Anderson was the only consistent bowler as he came away with 17 wickets, 6 more than Stuart Broad and the only England bowler who’s figures compete with the Australians.

Following Anderson, however, the bowling attack faltered. Even senior bowler Broad could not consistently take wickets and rotation in the lineup meant Jake Ball, Craig Overton, Mason Crane and Tom Curran all never had the opportunity for consistent game time.

The batting lineup was, once again, plagued by the middle order troubles. Moeen Ali, usually so reliable with bat and ball, could not make an impact with either against Australia, and most batsmen failed to follow up a strong score. Jonny Bairstow made just one century and no 50’s. Dawid Malan, one of the better batsmen for England in the series, also failed to perform with regularity.

Overall, Australia were just too strong for England, but just a couple of players consistently making runs or taking wickets could have made it a much tighter contest.

 

England lacked the depth of Australia

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For various reasons, both sides were forced into changes during the series, but it was clear Australia’s strength in depth was far superior to England’s. Before the series had even started, Australia made a bold decision to call up Tim Paine over Matthew Wade, and there wasn’t a place in the squad for the likes of Ashton Agar, Glenn Maxwell and Matt Renshaw.

Even during the series, if a change needed to be made, Australia had a more than capable replacement. Peter Handscomb was replaced by Mitchell Marsh who went on to average over 100 in his three matches. Their ability to replace quality with quality was something that England selectors should have been concerned about.

England, however, had the opposite problem. Whilst the likes of Curran, Ball and Crane are good County Championship players, they lack the experience on the test match stage, whereas Australia were bringing in proven test match players.

The visitors task was made much harder without Ben Stokes who failed to make an appearance in the series. Stokes has been an integral part of the test side, and the lack of all-rounders who can replace him are scarce. Chris Woakes, whilst good with the ball, cannot replicate Stokes’ batting qualities. The lack of all-rounders was a key aspect in England’s demise.

England and Australia begin the ODI series on 14th January at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

 

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