This feature was started a year ago and was mainly due to my love of the traditional game of cricket, the test match. Although usually featured only for South African test series, the Ashes is something special in test cricket and I thought I would put together my winners and losers of the Ashes series. Although the Ashes lacked any degree of competitiveness at times, as England won their third in a row, there were still some performers on both sides who made watching the series thoroughly enjoyable. And while I could focus entirely on Australia’s shortcomings or England’s victorious achievements, that would be boring. So here is my list of Winners and Losers of the Ashes series.
Not only for the amount of runs he scored (562, more than any other England batsman had previously in a home five-Test Ashes series) but for when he scored them. It was no coincidence that Bell hit a century in each of the three Tests that England won. England have never lost a test match in which Ian Bell has scored a century and never looked like losing this time. He will undoubtedly look to recreate this form in Australia later this year.
Although many would imagine that Peter Siddle would make this list, it was Harris who enhanced his own reputation during the 2013 Ashes. He was described as “exceptional” by his skipper and rightfully so. He only played four tests in the series and his 24 wickets were often the reason Australia stayed in games and appeared competitive. You have to think if him and Siddle perform the same way in Australia and the batsmen find some form, we could be in for a cracker of a series.
Stuart Broad – sigh
My feelings for Stuart Broad were dutifully covered over here. He could have reacted to the negative media coverage with a slump, but that would not be the way for Sally. Instead Broad bowled brilliantly and constantly troubled the best Australian in Michael Clarke. His bowling spell in Durham was one of the best spells of fast bowling he has ever produced and “match winning” was a fair appraisal of his performance. I still don’t like him, but his ability makes him very important to English Cricket.
I think it might be a fair statement to say that Andy has overtaken Gary Kirsten as the most wanted coach in World Cricket. In his time at the helm, England have now won the Ashes twice and the ICC Twenty-20. His future is in doubt and he could be offered big money to move to the sub-continent. Heck, maybe we can get him when Domingo steps down one day.
Australia have struggled for an established top order, but on this tour of batting low-lights, Chris Rogers made sure that he would be the first name on the team-sheet behind his captain. Incredibly at 35, this was his first Ashes series, he also was one of the few Australians to use the DRS well. If he can work on his ability to play Graeme Swann, could be a good bet as a big scorer in the Australian series.
The Swag and domination of the Ponting and Waugh led sides is gone. Australia used to go into a series as strong favourites and deliver in terms of this tag with legendary status. There was always someone who would produce the magic needed. But in the current line-up and, if you look into the domestic game, the available players there are very few players who possess this x-factor sticking their hands up. From a Hayden, Gilchrest and Ponting axis, we are now seeing Khawaja, Smith and Haddin, hardly terrorising at all.
The Aussie captain was spoken about as the man who would lead Australia to Ashes glory. But that man is needed more in times of desperate situations, which Australia faced a few too many times in this series, and that is where Clarke was absent. Indeed, if you look at his form in the series, apart from his 187, he scored 194 runs in 9 innings. He also shows his disappointment in his body language and he appeared crest fallen more often than not in the series. His series is saved somewhat by the sportsmanlike declaration in the fifth test that ultimately finished the series with excitement rather than the boredom it promised.
Billed as the saviour of the Australian team after a huge hundred in South Africa for Australia “A”, Warner produced a paltry 138 runs at a pathetic average of 23. The man has undoubted talent and could have the talent to emulated the likes of Matthew Hayden up top the order, but his temperament needs to be toned down and channeled. Darren Lehmann has some work to do if he wants to capitalise on the brilliance of Warner.
The BCCI would have been licking their lips at this series as they got all the ammunition they needed in their ongoing fight against DRS. The refusal of the ICC to use snick-o and the inability of hotspot were highlighted far too often on this tour. It has led to cricket associations called for the system to be reviewed. I think it is a great addition to the game, but there are still too many grey area’s that need to be ironed out, or not used at all.
Well that was quite possibly the worst debut ever. 8 overs for a walloping 53 runs meant he didn’t even get to bowl in the second innings. Yes he is 24, but being played in test cricket before he was ready could lead to a much longer road before he plays for his country again.