The series was unpredictable but 2-2 was deserved result for both teams. .
England had won their first ever World Cup and with that success they went into Ashes as firm favourites.
Then shockingly with great ease Australia won the first test and draw at Lord’s made them favorites to win the Ashes!.
However England kept the Ashes flame alive by once a life time performance from Ben Stokes. Their historic unbelievable chase in 3rd Test was an escape to victory for them!.
This win gave them belief and hope…
In 4th Test Australia came back hard with a clinical win!. Thus making sure Ashes stays at home.
As the final test approached England faced lot of criticism. It was basically thrown at England’s squad and Joe Root’s leadership.
The squad was build around same core of players who won them their first every World Cup!.
They all questioned the make-up of this squad, the opening combination, lack of spin, and obviously Root’s batting form and captaincy.
However in the final Test it was Australia who made wrong choice with the toss, as they elected to bowl on surface which that was better than previous four tests- i.e not difficult to bat against new ball.
On day one Australia made few basic errors. The fielding was poor as few catches were dropped in first session. It allowed England to fight back once again, and win the test to level the series.
Post Ashes for both teams
For Australia the immediate challenge comes at home when they host test series against Pakistan and New Zealand, who have an improved team. Their batting is much stronger than before. Hence Australia need to have a 5-bowler attack. It is time they have an bowling all-rounder in their playing XI.
In Ashes Mitch Marsh impressed all of us with his pace and accuracy. His yorkers were trademark of his performance. In the forthcoming series he can fit in as an bowling all-rounder that will retrieve some balance in their batting. He can bat below captain Tim Paine along with tail.
However their main concern is how to arrest “collapsible top-order”!!.
If their selection is based on horses for courses, then home series problem can be avoided for now.. but they need to look at opening pair that contributes to big score, adapt to new ball and stay at the crease as long as possible. They cannot rely on middle order ever time to produce big total.
For England They have to take their World Cup success of self-belief into Test cricket. Their Ashes performance symoblises their effort. It was a remarkable effort after losing first test and their key bowler James Anderson. He was well replaced by Jofra Archer who performed above all exceptions!.
Now that they have Archer in their side, their bowling group looks very strong and a force to reckon with. The likes of J Archer, S Broad, M Wood(once fit) and S Curran can be a dangerous proposition on any surface. Their real test will be in Asia, where surface is spin-friendly.
There are few things they need to look immediately.
- Avoid looking for a spinner who can bat, and pick a genuine spinner of any type!. In past they always tampered with this idea of spinner who can bat, but never other way around. In Test cricket basically all spinners have dual role to play i.e be a stock bowler and be a strike bowler.
- A) A stock bowler comes in when surface is new and teams are trying to build a score. His job here is to bowl long spells, concede less runs and pick wickets.
- B) A strike bowlers comes in last 2 innings(3rd and 4th) of a match. If he is involved in 3rd inns then his job is to contain runs and try to purchase wickets with his guile. If he is involved in 4th inns (defending target) then he becomes a striker bowler!. Here he has to strike regularly, not only break partnerships, but use the surface, foot mark and understand batsman’s mental side.
- C) All this can happen if a spinner of any kind has at least 2 variation(orthodox and unorthodox). Jack Leach their current spinner is only a stock bowler, not a strike bowler.He lacks variation, and on conducive surface he cannot strike!.
- England have a habit of picking batsmen who can bowl bit of spin. Root and Denly have been used to break partnerships in various stages in this series. Root’s part time bowling helped fasten victory in last test.
- Like Australia they need to have a strong opening pair. There is lack of faith and consistency from their selectors.
To conclude this post, there has been remarkable individual performance from both teams in Ashes. They need to harness these positive energy into team performance.