Rising from the Ashes
England have registered a historic Ashes win and with this they have irrevocably changed the power balance in World Cricket. There are a lot of reasons why Australia lost but only a handful of reasons why England won. England did a few things right to begin with. The results of Englands catching practise were clear to see. England persisted with the same leaky slip cordon that struggled for reliability in against the West Indies and against New Zealand. They took some outstanding chances during the series. There was no better example than Ben Stokes’ remarkable effort to dismiss Adam Voges in the first innings at Trent Bridge, but Joe Root, Ian Bell, Alastair Cook and Jos Buttler all held some outstanding catches.
A few chances still went down, but England’s much-improved catching provided the support the bowlers needed, maintained pressure on the Australian batsman and was a key factor in this Ashes success.The inclusion of several <g data-gr-id="36">allrounders</g> in the England side - Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and, up to a point, Stuart Broad gave England a depth, with bat and ball, that was to prove crucial. Even when the top-order was dismissed cheaply, England had the batting to post competitive totals. And even if a bowler or two suffered an off day - as in the second innings at Trent Bridge - England had the bowling resources required to get the job done. Not since the 19th century have England won four home Ashes series in a row. Not in 30 years have they won a home Ashes Test by an innings.
And yet by the end it was no surprise at all, the new Ashes order as secure as it was unimaginable four breathless weeks ago.How good was this Ashes of 2015? It has been a summer of unforgettable sessions but only occasional tension, of <g data-gr-id="28">matches</g> won at unprecedented pace and thrown away with remarkable profligacy, of new heroes like Stokes and Root and the enforced farewell of old stagers like Clarke and his vice-captain Brad Haddin.The overall balance of power initially see-sawed. An England win by 169 runs, an Australian victory by 405, that total dominance succeeded by an eight-wicket capitulation less than a fortnight later. The last act was down to Mark Wood - Australia’s last man Nathan Lyon considering a leave and instead dragging the ball back into middle and leg stump.
But with Australia seven down at start of play the smiles had crept onto England’s faces from the moment they took the field and, on the players’ balcony, Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace did a passable impression of the Jollity Brothers.Cricket can turn its combatants into heroes, and often it can destroy them too. <g data-gr-id="35">Up on</g> the Australian balcony, Michael Clarke, a captain who had failed again to win the Ashes in England, mournfully watched the final stages from the Australian balcony as Cricket Australia confirmed that he will retire at the end of the series.