Bowlers (l-r) Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins celebrate in the SCG dressing rooms on Monday following Australia’s Ashes victory.
Bowlers (l-r) Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins celebrate in the SCG dressing rooms on Monday following Australia’s Ashes victory.

10 reasons the force was never with England this Ashes

WHEN this one-sided Ashes series finally ended we could see through the little plot twists and somersaults to realise the first gut instinct was the right one.

It came way back on the morning of September 26 when news broke that all-rounder Ben Stokes had been involved in a punch-up at a Bristol hotel and was likely to miss the Ashes.

"That's it then … it's Australia 3-0 or 4-0,'' was the popular call from fans and pundits from both countries.

And it was spot on.

This was not one of the great Ashes series but a developing Australian team did extremely well against a mediocre England side who, as one reporter said, looked like winning a Test all the way up to the point where they didn't.

Here's 10 things we learnt from the Ashes …

STOKE THE FIRE

England missed Stokes' personality and willpower as much as his performance.

He may be a troublemaker but he is also a natural warrior, up for a bit of on-field aggro which is just not the bag for many of his more placid teammates who tried to summon their inner antagonist but realised they don't really have one.

The Force never seemed truly with them.

Ben Stokes’s failure to tour effectively snuffed out England’s Ashes chances.
Ben Stokes’s failure to tour effectively snuffed out England’s Ashes chances.

THE RED DEVIL

England are still spooked by Australia's Kookaburra ball.

It's true the Kooka is less responsive than England's Dukes balls and the tourists were simply at their wits end trying to make it swing or seam, taking just 57 of a potential 100 Australian wickets, a dreadful return.

They should reverse Australia's experiment and use the Kookaburra ball in English county cricket before they return to Australia, swallow their poison early so they become desensitised to it.

 

SPEED KILLS

Australia's three big pace guns - Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins - with 21, 22 and 23 wickets for the series, do indeed represent one of Australia's finest attacks of recent times. Each day can have a different standout. But we will know much more about the fibre of the batsmen, in particular, after the four Test series in South Africa in March.

 

TWIN ENGINES

Overseas fast bowlers who tour Australia need to be exceptional at two of the five skills - bounce, seam, swing, accuracy and pace - otherwise they just get ground into oblivion.

Only Jimmy Anderson (swing and control) passed the test.

CLASS AND COURAGE

Anderson, prickly old thing that he is, can be proud of himself.

Most 35-year-old swing bowlers have their feet up in retirement yet his 17 wickets at 27 in far from sympathetic conditions were a reminder of the skill and determination of one of Test cricket's finest competitors.

THE SMITH FACTOR

Getting Steve Smith out under 70 these days is a win for the bowling side.

Everything written about his brilliance is true. If he never played another innings he would be regarded as an Australian batting great.

 

WICKED WICKETS

That Australia's Test wickets are getting too similar and could do with a splash of chilli powder.

While some are proud that all five Tests went into fifth days, curators need to learn early finishes are not a crime and it can be a joy for the game to have a deck which takes seam early or severely crumbles late.

SPUN OUT

That part time spinners like Moeen Ali are a waste of time in Australia.

Even outstanding slow men like Muttiah Muralitharan, Yasih Shah, Graeme Swann and many more had to work devilishly hard for their wickets here so it defies logic that a part-timer with suspect confidence levels could seal the deal, as it does to think batsmen like Mark Stoneman and James Vince could average in the mid-30s in county cricket and suddenly be major Test match enforcers.

TOUGH UPBRINGING

That being raised in Australia can be a great thing for a spin bowler.

Nathan Lyon reckons that growing up on non-spinning wickets meant he had to be clever and resourceful and made him the bowler he is today which is why he is eking out wickets where others struggle.

SELECTION ROOM MAGIC

It was said before the first Test - and it was true - that Australia needed a slick performance by the national selection to win the Ashes and so it proved.

Their borderline verdicts such as the Marsh brothers fired extra well as did gut choice Tim Paine who looked nerveless and mature behind the sticks, enchanting the mystery of why he was omitted from the Tasmanian team last season for a 19-year-old Jake Doran.


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