2-1 up with two Ashes Tests to go. What could possibly go wrong?
A word of advice. Never let one player’s personal glory compromise the team goal!
We (England) were 2-1 up in the Ashes and had Australia one wicket down (Target: 490!) at the close of play of the fourth day of the fourth Test. Earlier in the day, when pondering a declaration, I allowed Joe Root to equal and then surpass his previous career best score of 200 not out. The skipper eventually declared with himself undefeated on 213. The only problem was that he spent quite a long time getting through the 190s but we backed ourselves to bowl Australia out with little more than a day to do so. How wrong we were! We got the hosts eight wickets down but Australia resisted to seal a draw. We then fell apart in the fifth Test, putting in our weakest batting performance (284 & 259) of the series capped off by our worst fielding display when it really mattered. We still managed to set the hosts 283 to win but claimed only four wickets and thus surrendered the Ashes.
The 2-2 series result was particularly harsh on Ben Duckett. The Northamptonshire batsman finished the series with 746 runs at an average of 82.89.
As you’ll see from the images below, opening batsmen Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns failed to back up their impressive first summers in international cricket. Stoneman failed to reach 50 in the series whilst Burns reached 98 in the fifth Test but his dismissal without adding to his overnight total complimented by two dropped catches significantly contributed to us not winning the Ashes.
On the bowling front, senior pacemen James Anderson (17 wickets @ 35.76) and in particular Stuart Broad (11 wickets @ 55.00) struggled throughout the tour, though their new ball spell did win us the third Test.
The squads for the ODI/T20I series will be announced shortly.
Update: I later realised that Joe Root had already surpassed 200 not out and that his Test best score was actually 254 so 213 not out wasn’t really worth throwing away the Ashes for!