The moments that exposed Cummins most – days two and three at Old Trafford and England’s lower order rearguards at Headingley – were accompanied by the fact that he was unable to impose himself with the ball in either moment.
Without the GOAT, is Murphy ready to be the main spinner?
To win at Lord’s without Nathan Lyon for almost all of each innings was pivotal to the fate of the Ashes. Once Lyon had headed home, the Australians were a much diminished force, although it was possible for them to make a better fist of covering for the man who had played 100 consecutive Tests and answers to the sobriquet of “GOAT”.
How? By showing more visible faith in Lyon’s understudy Todd Murphy. At the time it seemed like Stokes had taken a chunk out of Murphy before the spinner dismissed England’s captain in the first innings at Headingley.
But the further that duel receded in the distance, the more it looked like evidence that Murphy can thrive if backed. Cummins needed to give Murphy a crack earlier on the final day in Leeds, and it was also a questionable call to leave Murphy out in Manchester. It’s been so long since Lyon was a young, hesitant figure around the fringes of the team that perhaps there need to be a few reminders of how Michael Clarke (on the field) and Mike Hussey (off it) served as key mentors in his early years.
Lyon is expected to be back for the next Test series, starting against Pakistan in December, but he will be 36 by then and the calf injury is a reminder of his mortality.
The Green/Marsh conundrum
Mitchell Marsh liked to joke that this tour was his English holiday, but a hamstring strain to Green gave him a chance to stake a claim to a more permanent Test berth in the medium term. His astonishing day one innings at Headingley was followed by numerous others of quality, and his seamers gained purchase through the air and off the pitch that gave Cummins a very good fourth pace option.
It may be no bad thing for Green to spend some time out of the Test side, for in the long run his role is far more likely to involve batting higher in the order, probably replacing Steve Smith at No. 4, and Marsh’s power and poise are ideally suited to six.
Assessing the team
Any assessment of the 2023 Ashes will need to factor in how well Australia absorbed the reality of batting in much the worst of the conditions over the first four Tests. Khawaja’s runs were doubly valuable for being scored almost exclusively under cloud cover, and his Lord’s stand with David Warner provided the vital platform for Smith and Travis Head to set the tourists on the path to their most commanding first innings of the series.
Others helped, too – Marnus Labuschagne did not get into his best rhythm until Old Trafford, but occupied the crease for an hour or more in tricky periods. Alex Carey, too, made some important runs before his contributions trailed off.
Somewhat ironically, Cummins won the right to some of the best bowling conditions of the series at the Oval, only for Australia to squander them before lunch with a trio of dropped catches.
Plenty of highs, but crowd behaviour a low
As much as the tour provided many moments to savour, the coarseness of English crowds, particularly in the aftermath of Jonny Bairstow’s legitimate stumping at Lord’s, reflected that this was a series for its increasingly addled times. While any protests about the behaviour of English crowds generally results in a swift riposte about those in Australia, the extremes of language heard at Edgbaston, Lord’s and at other times in other venues had an undoubted souring effect on proceedings.
They also appeared to wear down Carey in particular, who began the series in sublime touch with the gloves and sound form with the bat, but his returns gradually deteriorated to the point of missing a straightforward (had he gone with two hands) chance off Harry Brook on day one at the Oval.
While England’s players continued to dog whistle by refusing to ask for crowds to behave, Usman Khawaja – who copped some of the worst of the Lord’s Long Room abuse – called for greater civility from spectators in both countries. It was a noble request that was relevant to England’s missionary zeal about saving Test cricket. There’s not much point playing attractive cricket if the experience at the ground is going to keep anyone but old white men away.
Watch every ball of the 2023 Ashes series live and exclusive on Channel 9 and 9Now.
News, results and expert analysis from the weekend of sport sent every Monday. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.
Denial of responsibility! galaxyconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.