And just like that, another Ashes series is over.
It still confounds me how a bi-lateral Test series between the teams rated 2 and 6 garnishes so much attention.
Isn’t Test match cricket meant to be dying or something?
Anyhow, England walk away as victors, meaning that of course, all of the talking points should be about the losers Australia.
Put up your hand if you picked the Poms as the likely winners before this all started.
You are lying.
The narrative of this series is hard to surmise.
It was as if Tim Burton wrote the script. Try and explain “Edward Scissorhands”, “Bettlejuice” or “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” to someone who has never watched them. You can’t.
That was the story of the 2015 Ashes.
It took us to crazy places that one should never go. Like Bihar, Slough or Blacktown.
In any event, here are the 5 biggest talking points from the 2015 Ashes.
It all went terribly wrong for Australia’s hard man Brad Haddin.
England were 3/43 on the first morning of the 1st Test at Cardiff.
Joe Root walked to the crease with his team exactly where we all expected them to be.
His second ball was nicked to Haddin who went at it with one hand. What should have been 4/43 is instead ends up being 4/196.
Root made 134.
Add to that Haddin’s 24 byes for the match, subtract the 29 runs he made with the bat and he had a net impact of minus 129 for the Test.
England won a match that should never had got close to.
The news got worse as Haddin missed the subsequent Lord’s Test due to personal reasons. Australia have a stated policy of “Family First”, except as we have now learnt, it doesn’t apply when Haddin is involved.
Keeper Neville took his place and never gave it back.
Stuart Broad’s 8/15
The great thing about Test cricket is that when you think you have seen everything, something new pops up to take your breath away.
For example, in the last few years serial sprayer Mitch Johnson emerged from his cocoon as a mythical fire breathing dragon. George Bailey hit James Anderson for a record number of runs in a Test match over. Misbah ul Haq has the quickest test 50 and 100 of all time. Aleem Dar is still rated an elite umpire.
However, nothing quite gets close to Stuart Broad’s 57 balls of utter mayhem.
9.3 – 5 – 15 – 8
These are once in lifetime figures. They were made when Australia had to win the 4th Test. The match was over in the first over.
He may not get the plaudits of his prettier ball swinging mate James Anderson.
But Broad has over 300 Test wickets at a better average and strike rate than his opening bowling partner.
I’ll let you be seduced by the pretty blonde with the savvy walk. I’ll happily marry the girl next door thanks.
The Current Captains
Coming into this series, it was Alastair Cook who was under the proverbial mountain of pressure.
Everything under the sun had gone wrong for him and his team during the past two years.
A 5-0 Ashes drubbing. Not being able to beat the West Indies or New Zealand. Losing at home to Sri Lanka. Kevin Pietersen. The loss of the ODI captaincy.
Michael Clarke on the other hand had just won a World Cup and was presiding over an unbeatable team.
Fast forward to the end.
Clarke has retired after a miserable series with the bat and multiple run-ins with the selectors.
Cook hasn’t made a century for three Ashes series in a row, but no one cares.
He holds the little urn.
Cook may well step away from captaincy duties in the near term given the toll is has had. But he carries on a winner.
Clarke leaves with people whispering about his legacy behind his back.
The Future Captains
Steve Smith entered the Ashes series as the number 1 ranked Test batsman in the world. He was also next in line for the captaincy.
Joe Root entered the Ashes series as the number 3 ranked Test batsman in the world. He was also next in line for the captaincy.
During the series, both men did nothing to suggest that they wont carry their teams for the next decade.
One day Smith is number 1. The next day, it’s Joe. One day Steve gets his name on the Lord’s honour board with a double ton. A short time later, Root decides to also ton up.
Rejoice cricket fans.
We have entered the Smith / Root era and it promises to be simply marvellous.
“You put your Mitch Marsh in, you take your Shaun Marsh out, you put your Mitch Marsh back in and you shake Rod Marsh about. You do selection hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.”
At least, I think that’s how the song goes? Apart from Warner and Smith, does anyone really know which batsmen belong in Australia’s best team?
Speaking of batsmen, how is it that Gary Ballance gets dropped but Adam Lyth didn’t?
How is it that Peter Siddle didn’t play until the final Test? Why did Rasheed never get a game?
Is Bell really a number 3? Why is Moeen Ali batting at 8?
Why select Shane Watson in the first Test but no more? He wasn’t that bad was he?
No one will ever know the answers to these questions that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.