Friday 19 January 2018 / 04:34 AM

ASHES TO ASHES: FIFTH TEST IN REVIEW

In the final edition of Ashes to Ashes after Australia wrapped up the series 4-0 at the SCG with a victory by an innings and 123 runs: the Australian bowling unit salute in style, the Marsh brothers make headlines of their own, Joe Root continues to rue missed chances, and England fail to make the most of a promising first innings.

Australian quartet share the load

With Australia’s hyped pace combination of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins generating plenty of discussion of who will be Australia’s spearhead to follow in the footsteps of Mitchell Johnson’s Ashes magic of 2013/14 when he took 37 wickets, it was anyone’s guess as to who would be depended on the most. All three bowlers each offer something unique.

Well, along with spin wizard Nathan Lyon, the trio all contributed evenly as a group to demolish England. Cummins led the series with 23 wickets, Starc finished with 22 from four tests, while Hazlewood and Lyon each took 21.

With such a balanced attack complementing each other when hunting as a unit on Australian pitches that don’t always offer assistance to bowlers, the ‘fab four’ will be eyeing off a repeat in bowler-friendly conditions in England in 2019.

Marsh brothers put England to the sword

Joining his brother Shaun at the crease with Australia already taking a lead of 29 runs, Mitchell Marsh cashed in. The oft-maligned siblings shared a stand of 166 as they took the game away from England after Usman Khawaja’s return to form with a knock of 171 set the platform.

Both Shaun and Mitchell made their centuries while at the crease together, playing positive, aggressive cricket in their scores of 156 and 101 respectively to carry the hosts to a total of 7/649 declared.

After years of ups and downs during their Test careers, the pair have rewarded the faith shown by selectors in persisting with them and letting them settle in.

Root fails to go on with it once more

Coming into this Test match, England captain Joe Root had passed 50 three times this series and failed to score a hundred. The skipper missed out in Brisbane with his side fighting to stay in the match; Adelaide with his team a strong chance of victory on day five; and Melbourne when he failed to join Alastair Cook in the runs on a flat pitch.

Root spurned a glorious chance near the end of day one in Sydney, after doing all of the hard work for most of the day and with England in control at 3/228.

But Root can be forgiven in his last attempt after being hospitalised before day five following a brutal day four in the hot Sydney sun, showing plenty of courage to head out to the middle and notch another half century before retiring. But Root’s subpar series serves as another reminder of why England lost the close moments in going down 4-0 to Australia. It is hard to win a series without your captain and best batsman scoring hundreds.

England’s bats tease and shown a lesson in making a score

In the first innings, seven of the first nine England batsmen all reached a score of 24 or higher. No one went on to make a century, and only two half-centuries were recorded.

England wasted a glorious opportunity to post a total of 500-plus, ultimately all out for 346. Compare this to the Australian innings – with seven of the nine batsmen making 24 or more, three centuries and two half-centuries were made.

England’s problem with certain players failing to go on with the job has hurt them all series, and once again they were made to pay the price.

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Brett Sinclair

Sport has always been a big passion in Brett's life and he aims to share his vision with Commentary Box Sports' readers. Based in Melbourne, Brett covers AFL, NRL, cricket and football for CBS.

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