This is probably the last in my Ashes cricket 2015 series blogs – click one, two, three, four and five for the previous five postings. The reason is simple – the last of the five match series has just been played and following England’s surprising first innings batting collapse and rain delay, the inevitable has happened. There is a little more to be said beyond these final comments. It is true there is soon going to be a five match one day series to be played and while it is true the last one day series England played (against New Zealand) was pretty report worthy, as far as this blogger is concerned test cricket, especially when it comes to the pinnacle of all cricket – the Ashes, bears no comparison with the limited over’s game.
It has been an unusual series, to say the least, with little going to script, with each match dishing up a surprising result, where for each match the margin of victory was huge and finishing in a lot less time than the five days allocated, even allowing for bad weather. Other than a blip in the Second Test, which England lost comprehensively, England had already won the overall series convincingly (3-1, and with the latest loss this has become 3-2). It could be said that this last match was a bit of an anti-climax with nothing much to play for other than pride, and if that is the case then Australia managed to achieve this magnificently. Just as England was outdone by a solid Australian (batting first) batting performance at Lords, the same happened at the Oval after England put the Aussies into bat on a good batting pitch. It has been a bowling dominated series and, in both the games England lost, their reply with the bat was more than disappointing, it was pathetic. It is one thing to play positive, attritional cricket but in Test cricket it is sometimes a matter of taking stock and fighting, even if being boringly defensive. England failed to do this, just as happened with the Aussies. While credit should be given where credit is due, given some outstanding individual performances, to succumb in this manner is disappointing.
While nothing should be taken away from their series victory against their old enemy, my hopes that this young, emerging side can take its place alongside great West Indian and Australian sides of the past have been dashed before the first hurdle – the forthcoming Winter tour, let known wins on the Indian sub-continent and retaining the Ashes in Australia. Besides the fragility of the batting line up when under real pressure, the English have yet to unearth a quality spin bowler and an opening bat that is proven to be a worthy foil to its established opener. But it has been a riveting series nevertheless given many heroic performances from both sides, even though from a purist point of view not one to relish.