Cricket: Five things we learnt from the Ashes

Ian Bell hits one away at The Oval (photo: ESPN Cricinfo)
Ian Bell hits one away at The Oval (photo: ESPN Cricinfo)

What we saw across the months of July and August was highly thrilling cricket, yet laced with controversy.

The Ashes provided the ground, TV and radio audiences with some super displays of batting and bowling, along with some very dubious decisions and skill errors.

Australia wanted to regain the coveted Ashes urn on foreign soil, but never strung a consistent run together.

Here are five things, from across the entire series, that we learnt about the both the teams, or the players:

1. Stuart Broad‘s series might have been littered with controversy, but he was also very underrated.

-Broad blossomed later in the series to become the chief destroyer of the Australian side with the ball in hand.  A very satisfying 22 wickets, and one haul of 6/50, which ultimately crushed Australia’s chances in the fourth test, had some clamping their mouths shut.  England fans rejoiced in that innings, and ultimately Broad had the last laugh after controversy in the first test.  Broad looked tired early, but made the unexpected Australians fall easy prey to his bowling, starting with Old Trafford.

2. The Australian batting is too inconsistent

-Australia may have made it over 400 twice, and 500 once, but the reliance on one or two key batsmen meant the rest of the lineup fell apart.  The middle order resembles something of an apple crumble; constantly being changed because no-one can string together sets of good scores.  Steve Smith and Shane Watson piled on a big chunk of the runs at The Oval, while others did little but support.  It’s now up to the batsmen to apply themselves to the game, or risk further drops from the side.

3. Ian Bell is as stubborn as ever

-The middle order Bell is as solid as a rock.  Three centuries and 562 runs made him not only the highest run scorer, but also the most consistent.  He was at the crease when it mattered, and built his innings on grit, endurance and pure timing of shots.  Kept the Australian bowlers at bay, and is going to be a vital part of the England side when they venture out to Australia in November.

4. Ryan Harris may be old, but he can still bowl.

-Harris was far and above Australia’s best bowler of the series.  The impact was immediate; line and length were close to immaculate, he extracted swing and bounce, and just as importantly, pace.  Working the England batsmen down, and then taking the crucial wickets meant he kept Australia in with a sniff.  Ageing body needs to be carefully managed, and will now sit out 6-8 weeks with a hamstring injury.

5. The Decision Review System is the talk of the town; in a bad way

The Ashes Urn (thanks to Google Images)
The Ashes Urn (thanks to Google Images)

-For all the good it did, the negatives of the DRS plagued both sides.  Wasted reviews for starters didn’t benefit anyone, and some decisions that looked certain to be turned over were upheld.  Usman Khawaja fell a painful victim to the system; while it robbed Australia of Broad’s wicket in the first test.  Technology has proven that it is a huge positive for the game, but the system has too many flaws for it to just eliminate the “howlers”.

Mind you, this is just a taste of what we saw.  There is so much more that could be discussed.  The series was enthralling, captivating, yet at the same time never really turned it on completely.


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