The Ashes are over, for now, and while we look back at five Tests where England were ultimately the better side, Australian fans would have hoped, and maybe deserved at least a one in the victory column.
Cricket Plus Magazine takes a look at the Aussie positives, negatives, highlights and lowlights from the first five of ten Tests between the old enemies in the space of six months.
Harris is a match winner, plain and simple. The fact he was left out of the team for the first Test at Trent Bridge was a poor mistake by the selectors, but he more than made up for it in the following four.
24 wickets at an average of 19 is a remarkable effort, but what may be more outstanding is the fact his body was able to hold up for four consecutive Tests. Undoubtedly Australia need their key man for the return series this summer, so expect the fragile Queenslander to be wrapped in cotton wool for the next couple of months.
Rogers’ debut hundred at Durham was one of the feel good stories of the series. After toiling in first-class cricket both at home and abroad for 15 years, the Victorian was finally given a consistent run at the pinnacle of the game.
His pair of dismissals at Lord’s were truly awful, however he responded brilliantly at Old Trafford before his breakthrough ton at The Riverside Ground. His series average of 40 while good is not great, but most importantly has secured a place at the top of the Aussie order for the start of the summer.
The Top 5 Is Now Set For Brisbane
Heading into the first Test at Trent Bridge, we didn’t really know who would be batting in positions 3-6. Now off the back of Shane Watson and Steve Smith hitting centuries at The Oval, it would appear the only batting spot up for grabs is that of number six come the start of the summer in Brisbane.
The first Test begins on the 21st of November, so that could leave the likes of Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Phil Hughes, Shaun Marsh, Nic Maddinson, Moises Henriques and James Faulkner to fight it out in Shield cricket for five weeks to stake their Ashes claims. Only problem could be a pointless ODI tour of India in October and November that could rob a few from the above list the opportunity of valuable time on Australian pitches.
Clarke’s 381 runs at an average of 47 are the stats of a great batsman, but Australia simply needs more from him if they are going to win Test matches against the likes on England.
At the start of last summer he plundered consecutive double centuries against a South African attack featuring Steyn, Morkel and Kallis, and he must somehow find that form if his side are to wrestle the urn back.
Stuart Broad seems to have found Clarke’s weakness against the short-ball, which is no doubt what he’ll be working on for the next couple of months.
Australia’s perennial back up batsman was finally recalled to Test cricket, with his return a resounding failure. Finished with an average of 19 from three matches, while passing 50 just once. Unless he sets the Sheffield Shield on fire, it is tough to see him returning for the coming series.
Agar’s incredible 98 on debut at number eleven will be remembered as one of the highlights from the last ten years of Ashes cricket. At the crease he looked composed and controlled, while also technically correct. It was just one of those days when everything goes right; well almost everything, two more runs would have been nice.
Unfortunately with the ball he was ineffective, meaning we may not see him in a baggy green again for a while.
Batting at Old Trafford
Australia were rightfully ravished by the media after the debacle that was Lord’s, but to their credit fought back in Manchester to post 527, highlighted by a brilliant 187 from skipper Clarke.
The match was beautifully poised on day five when the rain struck, effectively handing England the Ashes for a third straight series.
Aussie hopes were high after the pulsating opener at Trent Bridge saw the tourists go down by just 14-runs. Even as England was bowled out for 361, there was talk of Australia being on top after what many considered an under-par score.
Just two sessions later and the match was gone, with Clarke’s men routed for just 128 and a record 347 runs loss.
Those Gosh Darn Batting Collapses
The three Tests that Australia lost can be traced back to diabolical batting collapses, brought on by poor stroke play, and a seemingly mental fragility when trying to chase a win.
At Trent Bridge the Aussies were 1-111 chasing 311 before loosing five vital wickets for just 53 runs to put them right on the back foot. The Durham effort was much more catastrophic, with nine second innings wickets lost for 77 after an opening stand had them on track for a famous win at 1-109.
Nobody can question Michael Clarke’s desire to lead a successful Australian side, but at the end of the day his team simply lost too many key moments to be able to win the close Tests.
One thing is for certain, Australia will be a lot better for the experience come the return series in the November, however there will be a big question mark as to whether or not there is enough time to correct the mistakes made and lessons learnt.