This was very much the message coming out of the England camp following England’s drubbing of Australia at Trent Bridge last week to win the series 3-1 and regain the Ashes. For the barmy army the fourth test in Nottingham could not have gotten any better: bowling the Aussies all out for 60, trouncing them by an innings and 78 runs and bringing the urn home.
Following the end of the game, captain Alistair Cook emotionally told Sky Sports
It’s an unbelievable moment. I couldn’t be happier. From what we’ve been through as a side through the last 18 months to play like we have in three of the four Tests against a good Australia side is incredible.
In what has been one of the most exciting series to date, England have been lauded by pundits for their new and aggressive tactics in test-match cricket; long ago now seem the more conservative tactics English cricket fans have been used to in the last few years. In all aspects of their game; their bowling, batting, fielding and captaincy, England have been exciting and positive. England arguably have one of the best pace attacks in the world currently, with Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, Ben Stokes and Steven Finn all unplayable at times over the series. Stuart Broad must get a special mention in particular, with his incredible figures of 8-15 in the first innings at Trent Bridge.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 7, 2015
Although not phenomenal, England’s batting has also been good this series. Joe Root of course has been the star of the show, with two hundreds and two fifties this Ashes series seeing him rise to the number one test batsman in the world, becoming the sixth English player to top the world rankings since 1980. Away from Root, Alistair Cook seems to have returned to some level of form, with Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali also playing beautifully at times. In addition, England’s field placings have been much more aggressive this series, with Cook seeming to be much more willing to go for it rather than play it safely for a draw. Many were particularly impressed by his decision to declare on day two of the Trent Bridge Test in order to give Australia a few nervous overs before lunch.
— Adam lyth (@lythy09) August 8, 2015
However, has it been the case that England have been too good, or have the Aussies arguably made them look a lot better? Before the series began, Australia were full of confidence, and rightly so. They had just won the cricket World Cup in March, had the number one ranked batsmen in the world in their vice-captain Stephen Smith and an exciting and fast bowling attack including the likes of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson. Stephen Smith even stated in a press conference before the start of the series how England “wouldn’t come close” to Australia in the series. Yet back here in England, the feeling towards the Australian team before the series began was not one of fear but rather confidence. England had just completed an exciting ODI win against a top side in New Zealand with what is a young team, and there were feelings from pundits and the British press alike that Australia were a bit of a “Dad’s Army”.
In an interview with The Mirror, the ex-Australian international, Jason Gillespie, who is now coach of English side Yorkshire, stated:
England should look at Australia and go: ‘Hang on a minute they’ve got a 37-year-old keeper [Brad Haddin]. They’ve got a 37-year-old opening batter [Adam Voges], their captain [Michael Clarke] has got a glass back and they’ve got a fast bowler – Ryan Harris – who’s 35 years of age and who’s got a dodgy knee. They’re Dad’s Army. I’d be thinking ‘let’s keep them out in the field. Let’s get them tired, they’re old blokes. We can put these guys under pressure.’
However, although there were some brilliant individual performances from their players, as a team, Australia lived up to their ‘Dad’s Army’ label bar the test at Lord’s. Apart from arguably Chris Rodgers and Mitchell Starc, the performances with both bat and ball have not been good enough by Australia, with their series perhaps best encapsulated by the 60 all out at Trent Bridge. Australia’s batsmen often threw their wickets away to pretty average deliveries, deliveries that often could have been left or played much better. In contrast to England then, this disastrous series means that Australia face a period of mass reflection and change in their side. Australian captain Michael Clarke announced that he would be retiring following the end of the final test at The Oval, and with the likes of Voges, Haddin, Rodgers, Johnson, Watson and Bailey all in their early to mid thirties now, Australia need to find some young blood. Parallels could perhaps be drawn to this Australian side and the England side that were drubbed 5-0 in the Ashes series down under in 2013-2014. Back then, England had an ageing side which included the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Michael Carberry, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann. Following the white-wash back then in Australia, there was a feeling that many of the players had played an Ashes series too far, and arguably the same logic could be applied to the Aussies this time around.
— The Australian (@australian) August 10, 2015
However, Australian issues aside, England still had to beat what coming into the series was a good side who were ultimately favourites, and they did so in a comprehensive and exciting fashion. The future looks bright in English cricket with what is seemingly great depth in our squad, something the Australian side is crying out for at the moment. To prove this, one just has to look at who didn’t make the squad or who was brought in when players were having bad spells: Gary Ballance and Mark Wood were replaced for the third test at Edgbaston by Stephen Finn and Jonny Bairstow. In addition, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid have been called up for the final test at The Oval, with the likes of Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Chris Jordan and David Willey not getting a look-in currently. Ultimately though, it is the brand and style of cricket that England are adopting that is the most exciting prospect for England fans, with the side playing an attacking and positive brand of cricket, and hopefully this trend will continue to bring the urn home once again in 2017.