Lions fail to roar in Australia
It took Australia only three tests to clinch the famous urn in what turned into a disappointing series for the visitors. England at least avoided a humiliating whitewash but the manner of this collapse on the last day of play will be hard to take for England supporters.
England were only playing for pride in the fifth and final Test in Sydney, defeats in the first three tests had already assured Australia the Ashes. But such is the dominance of the hosts that they bowled England all-out for just 180 and Australia won the test by 123 runs and an innings to spare.
On the final day of action, England had needed to bat out the day to secure an unlikely draw. A few late wickets in the previous day’s play had left England at 93-4 when play started on Monday and needing a to score a further 210 to avoid an innings defeat and a 4-0 series loss.
England’s faint hopes rested on Joe Root but even these seemed dashed when the 27-year-old was taken to hospital on Sunday night with severe dehydration and diarrhoea because of a viral gastroenteritis bug. Root did not start when play resumed on the Monday but did come into bat an hour after play started, resuming his innings of 42 when Moeen Ali fell.
The bug soon got the better of Root though and he was forced to retire on 58. Root’s departure signalled a batting collapse from the English as they lost three wickets for just 12 runs. Australian superiority was mainly down to the excellence of Aussie bowler Pat Cummins who ended with match figures of 8 wickets taken at the cost of 119 runs. His form, coupled with the scoring heroics of Smith was too much for the English.
The Ashes – home advantage guarantees success
It is a remarkable fact that eight out of the last nine Ashes Test series have been won by the host team. When the next Ashes takes place in England, it will have been 18 years since Australia won a series there. For England, it is even longer, one victory in 35 years.
There are few sporting events in world sport that are so predictable, which has led to calls for a shakeup of the Ashes series, a notion that hasn’t gone down to well with the traditionalists. They suggest it is preparations that need to change, rather than the competition itself.
This view is supported by the fact that that the International cricket calendar is so full of fixtures that there isn’t the time given to allow the players to acclimatise in the Ashes. The last time Australia won the Ashes on English soil, they played thirteen warm-up games between landing in England and playing the first test. England played just three games before facing the Australians this time around.
The quality of the opposition in the warm up games is also questionable with The Independent newspaper playfully suggesting that the Australian’s had a Whatsapp group set up, begging Australian cricketers to come forward to play England in the warm-up games, such was the absence of high calibre players involved.
Bayliss to step down as England coach in 2019
Whatever happens in the next Ashes, it will be the last one for England coach Trevor Bayliss.
Bayliss signed a four-year deal in 2015 to manage the national team and feels after four years both England and him personally will be ready for a change. He said:
I’m contracted to September 2019 and that will see me out, I’ve always felt that it’s time for a change around that four-year mark. A new voice and a different approach reinvigorates things.– Trevor Bayliss, Former England cricket manager
In his first year with England, Bayliss’s team triumphed over South Africa in a Test series and reached the final of the 2016 World Twenty20. Since then results have been mixed, in 38 test matches they have won 15 and lost 18.
There is currently no news on Bayliss’s successor but a popular public choice would be Sir Ian Botham.
Botham played for England at both Test and ODI level playing his club cricket for Somerset, Worcestershire and Durham. It is however his experience at playing at Queensland in Australia that would benefit the national team.