England squared it two all for the first drawn Ashes series in forty odd years, as Australia head home with the urn.
As I said after the last test, England perform when they are on the end of justified criticism, though they never see it as justified, while they have a history of turning up at the Oval for a dead rubber and performing. So all the stars aligned for this victory.
When is a dead rubber not a dead rubber?
Is it one when you can draw a series? Or is it dead as soon as the Ashes couldn’t be won? The Aussies seem to have celebrated a bit since they retained the urn a few days before this final test started.
England got a break when Stokes failed the fitness test to bowl, so moving him up the order, dropping Roy completely and bringing in Sam Curran, who after all had been man of the series just a year ago.
England love a trend and for ages they banged on about getting their own left handers, after left handers had done them. They got Willey in the one day set up and then Curran. Then they got obsessed with pace, after being done by pace. So Willey had to bowl faster and faster, in doing so he lost his swing, stopped taking wickets and was dropped. It meant that Curran was overlooked for the last test in favour of Overton. On a slow wicket.
Selection, for once it didn’t go against England. Throughout all of the recriminations on how the Ashes were “lost” none of his mates in the media have pointed the finger at Anderson. If the Burnley Bumpkin hadn’t declared himself fit in that first test and Archer had been brought in, where would the urn be today? In all his years playing Australia has five five wicket hauls. In four tests, Archer now has two, as he got another six-for in the first innings.
He didn’t get any in the second innings but he played a part in a minor miracle as Smith and Labuschagne were dismissed for a combined total of 37 runs.
The Aussies got their calls wrong, which helped England. Wrong to put England in. Wrong selection in Siddle over Starc. They brought in Marsh so they didn’t need a second version. Reviews again, Paine ain’t that good at ’em. They were also poor in the field, dropping Root three times before his dismissal in the first inning. It really looked like they had one foot on the boat home.
So England squared the series which is a lot better than a 1-3 home loss, as it wasn’t going five days for the draw. They get some points in this Test Championship, though not as many as they would if they’d beaten Bangladesh apparently.
But no England have to focus on getting those Ashes back, focus on real cricket, they’ve won the World Cup now the focus can shift, I mean they ain’t gonna win it next time in India, are they? Get the youngsters in and give them the winter tours, don’t have them playing one day stuff – Denly did well at times but is he the future at his age? Realise you can play without Anderson. Give Root a rest, stopping shifting him and Bairstow around the order. Get in a decent coach, don’t just pick the easy in-house option. I mean, Thorpe, with the way England batted this summer he’d be lucky to get another job. Get Gillespie in, pronto.