For the fifth consecutive test match of this crazy, bizarre Ashes series, the match was won in emphatic fashion with at least a day to spare.
Australia sent off the retiring skipper Michael Clarke and opening batsman Chris Rogers with a victory by an innings and 46 runs on the fourth day of the match to take the final series result to 3-2 in favour of England, who take back the Ashes.
Incoming captain Steve Smith was named man of the match for his 143 while Joe Root was named man of the series for his 460 runs, 4 wickets and 8 catches.
For Australia, two numbers sum up the reason they lost this series.
136 and 60.
Their first innings collapses at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.
Every match in the series was largely decided by the end of the first day, if not the first session. Neither side displayed the ability to fight back from adversity.
Strangely, Australia scored more runs and took more wickets than England in the series.
Talking points from the 5th test
1. The retirement of Clarke & Rogers – the end of an era with the retirement of two batsman. Captain Clarke is exiting the game at the right time. His average had dipped below 50 for the first time in years in this series. Clarke’s captaincy was as good as ever, he was just let down by poor batting. He hands on the captaincy to Smith, who will do a great job.
Rogers has had a late career revival and was probably Australia’s best batsman of the series, despite finishing 28 runs behind Smith. Was far more consistent which is reflected in the averages (Rogers 60.4 vs Smith 56.4). Will be missed far more than we think.
2. The selection of Peter Siddle – while I did not agree with the selection of Siddle, that a game should have been given to Pat Cummins with an eye to the future, he more than justified his selection by taking 6 wickets for the match at an average of 11.66. Just as importantly, he only went for 1.8 runs per over, economy that Australia had been crying out for all series.
Really, this could be selection full stop for the series. The selection of Siddle came at least a test too late, while the constant flip-flopping of the middle order and all-rounder postion must’ve left the players completely confused about where they stand. The replacement of Brad Haddin with Peter Nevill as wicketkeeper was the right call, but handled terribly.
3. Did England really care? – in this match it didn’t look like it and why should they have? Winners are grinners, they were the batter team over the five tests and they sure had those grins on their faces at The Oval.
Where to now for Australia – a period of change awaits the Baggy Greens. From the new leadership team of Smith and David Warner to a new opener, a new middle order player and potentially more. Many questions remain on the line up for the next test in Bangladesh and for the side to play in the first home test of the summer in Brisbane against a good New Zealand outfit.
One thing is for sure, the batsman need to learn how to play in foreign conditions, be it swing or spin. The bowlers also need to tighten up, develop a plan and stick to it.
Looking forward to Bangladesh, the batting will be based around Warner and Smith. Smith may not be a long term No.3 but should stay there for this series. Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja should come into the opening and No.4 slot.
Two all-rounders should be played. Glenn Maxwell for mine is the spinning all-rounder batting at No.5 and has been in great form in English county cricket. Mitchell Marsh has done enough, at least with the ball, to maintain his spot and Nevill will be the keeper.
I don’t believe Australia can afford to carry both the left arm Mitches, Starc and Johnson. They both leaked runs far too easily in the Ashes. Only one of them stays. Others in contention are Josh Hazelwood, Siddle and Cummins.
Nathan Lyon is clearly the best spinner. If the selectors want to go for two spinners, Ashton Agar is the man ahead of Fawad Ahmed.
This is all just for Bangladesh. For Brisbane the form players in the early rounds of Shield cricket should be picked.
A move towards younger players is needed. This spells the end of test careers for Shane Watson, Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh and Haddin.