England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 5th day August 5, 2013

Damn the weather, but Australia turn a corner

After the humiliation of Lord's, Australia refocused their game and, if it hadn't been for the weather, would probably have won in Manchester. That bodes well for the remainder of the Ashes
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The disappointment was writ large on everyone's face. Manchester's weather has behaved worse but rarely has it behaved so cynically. There was no joy for England, only relief. No joy for Australia, only a bitter taste. And there was no joy for the many media outlets that trade on tales of good and bad. There was just grey: damp and clinging grey.

The England players came to their dressing-room balcony and did a footbally thing, clapping their hands above their heads and smiling all cocksure. But there was barely a murmur in response because barely a person was left on the ground to respond. Just the workers and the anoraks and the anoraks don't even sing when they are winning. Damn the weather.

Joe Root and Johnny Bairstow will have dreamt for years of their Ashes moment: of easing a short ball past point or smashing a leg-break onto the second tier or simply playing forward defensively in the thou-shalt-not-pass mode that the first coach they ever knew insisted upon. Damn the weather. The match was a belter and deserved a conclusion. Damn the weather.

Yes, it had been a good toss to win last Thursday morning but then you must play well to take the advantage given and Australia did exactly that. Well enough to win, which they would pretty much certainly have done had the day run its course. Therefore we can say that, after the watershed at Lord's, a corner has been turned. Such defeats shock the system so deeply that the brain changes tack, subconsciously or otherwise. Nobody, and sportsmen lead the way here, likes to be humiliated. Thus, after wounds are licked, a better focus returns.

During the hour or so before play each day, the two big screens play highlights of the day before, volume and all. While the players warm up, they are subjected to the best and worst of the previous day and to the commentators' whim - thoughts and exclamations that fitted the moment of action. At 10 o'clock in the morning - coffee brewing, physio waiting, crowd queuing, coach hitting catches - the repeats look and sound out of context. The drama has lost its way and appears to point exaggerated fingers at both the worthy and unworthy in equal measure. The benefit is for the spectator, definitely not the player.

On the first day of the game, there are no highlights from the previous day so the screens show the previous match. As Shane Watson stretched his hamstrings and snaffled a few catches at 10.15am last Thursday morning, he got to see and hear again the two painful lbw dismissals from Lord's.

Hard as he must have worked to eradicate them from his memory for all time, the ground authority made sure they were shoved right back in his face. Forty five minutes later, he was taking guard once more to James Anderson. Indeed, Australia were at the wicket having just been shown an X-rated package of the worst match of their lives. This used to happen to England in Australia. Bill Lawry screaming blue murder at masterpieces created by Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne, just as Andrew Flintoff's browbeaten men were preparing to cross the divide.

It takes a certain type of person to truly ignore all this and not many of us are that person. You can't help but look and blush, or listen and cringe. Or just get angry at the injustice. This is the mind in the wringer. You could almost see it doing its worst to Watson, who near bursts out of his kit in desperation for success. 'Why me', he seems to say. 'I am better than this showreel suggests'. And the more tense he becomes, the harder it becomes, to be the cricketer he knows he can be. Few men look so condemned by unkind fate as Watson.

Thankfully, others responded a lighter sense of being and benefited from the release. Chris Rogers positively twinkled at the wicket, a hitherto unseen approach from an earnest cricketer. Michael Clarke simply played like he can, which is not so easy when the reponsibilty of humiliation is yours. Steven Smith played like the amazing dancing bear in the song of that ilk - though Simon is the fellow in the song, not Steve - and Brad Haddin gave it some 'umpty, which is the best way when you are an all or nothing sort of chap.

Later Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle ran in to make proud the people of the Great Southern Land: no airs and graces just sleeves-up stuff that keeps batsmen honest. It was this pair who would have seen their country home on the dry and worn pitch before turning to beer and meat pies in celebration. (A metaphorical assumption, for Siddle is vegan nowadays - more replacement fluid and bananas than beer and pie one imagines).

Nathan Lyon might have chipped in, Mitchell Starc and Smith too and off they could have gone to Durham on the team bus, singing about the jolly swagman and old Matilda, pride intact and with no fear of the replay screen on Friday morning.

But it wasn't to be. England were saved their own ingloriousness and are now the wounded cat with claws sharpening. Forget the million dollar smile, Alastair Cook is more ruthless than you might care to think. He hated the anti-climax and the fact that he, the England captain on the day the Ashes were retained, had to answer questions on how the rain had saved him, how the batsmen were vulnerable and how the balance of power had shifted. He hated it.

So be certain that England will watch that big screen come Friday and use it to further fire their ambition. Cook has dreamt of a whitewash, something so extreme that history would record and remember in full and glorious detail. He suffered such a thing in 2006-07 and wanted to hand it back on behalf of all those who were with him then and are with him now.

His desire and Australia's regeneration promises us real flavour in the two Tests to come. The urn may have had its home decided for now but the best, and perhaps most unforgiving, cricket might still to come.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bythebook on August 7, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Great write-up Mark. There is almost always a good feel to your words. But now to the content. Surely the momentum has shifted a little and its more of Aus rising and Eng being unsteady. But still, this Eng team is by FAR the better side. This Eng team has almost all that it takes to be winning consistently - but it lacks the ONE thing which make great sides and this ONE thing is what I have never seen in an England side in all my years. No - it is not that they dont have killer instinct or have the desire to win. They have that. But they are not INTIMIDATING. The Windies of 70's and 80's were intimidating in their cricket. The Aussies under Waugh and Ponting were intimidating in the physicality of the way they played and sledged - AND they had champion talents to back it up. This Eng team has some great to very good talents to. But they are not as intimidating to the opponents as you would feel a GREAT side should be. Let us see them get intimidating and then we can judge...

  • landl47 on August 7, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    While Australia deserved to win, to say that they almost certainly would have done is going way too far. England has made a habit of going three down and then batting for a day after that; in fact, in this series they'd done it 3 successive times before the 2nd innings at Old Trafford. 2nd test, 1st innings, England 3-28, batted another 95 overs. 2nd test, 2nd innings, England 3-30, batted another 100 overs and declared. 3rd test, 1st innings 3-64, batted another 101 overs.

    All of those innings involved the remaining 7 England wickets surviving way more than the 78 overs left when rain called a halt at Old Trafford. Harris and Siddle had got 3 wickets with swing and a strangle diown the legside, but the new ball was 20 overs old and Aus hasn't been able to bowl England out once the new ball has lost its shine.

    Aus might have bowled England out, but given the previous history in this series, a draw was more likely.

  • AdamLBW on August 5, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    Great stuff again, Mark. There is nothing worse in sport than dashed hopes and unfulfilled expectations. If you expect your team to lose heavily and they do then you can deal with it. Not having the chance to knock England over today having played so well in the four days before is arguably a worse feeling than the Lord's test. England will surely feel this sense too - it was not meant to end like this. The series is still alive and well. England may have retained the Ashes but what have they actually retained? The urn exists in the Lord's museum. It doesn't move. Avoiding defeat simply honours an ancient tradition about the holders "keeping the urn" in the event of a draw. What if it was decided years ago that the urn went to the touring team in the event of a draw? Graeme Smith seemed disappointed when South Africa drew 1-1 with England in 09/10 even though he won in England in '08. It's because it's about winning. Avoid defeat at Durham and England will feel truly like winners.

  • jackiethepen on August 7, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    This is fanciful. England would take the break the rain gave them, not because they haven't the ability and the fight to bat for a draw but because it would have been another long day and back to back Tests don't allow time to restore the body and mind. It's a let off for cricketers who came into the Series after going to the Final in the Champions Trophy and being forced by rain to play t20 instead of 50 over cricket. The rain is impartial. They'll take the rest thank you and the urn. Do you seriously think these professional cricketers aren't already thinking about Durham and getting into the right mind set for that game, rather than mooning about how they didn't get the media stage after the match? Blame the administrators if you want a more stately Series which each match treasured instead of a conveyor belt of cricket. As it is cricketers like KP will be more worried about his body lasting for the next 7 Ashes Tests than how the weather rained on his parade.

  • cricket_ahan on August 7, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Big call Mark, is all I can say. Australia did play better, but I don't know if you can call it "turning a corner" just yet. Numerous people before this series even began said two things - Australia's only strengths are their pace battery and Michael Clarke. From what I can see on the scorecard, those are the strengths Australia drew on. Credit that they did, but this team is still learning and I feel it will still take some time before they really settle. I would say you are correct if they put up a fight in the next few tests as well - and in particular without a big Michael Clarke score. If they perform like they did in tests 1 and 2 though, I think it's still only a glimpse of the future.

  • DustBowl on August 6, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    Brilliant summary Mark , you write as you speak. However nothing about the batsmen, the seam bowlers are very strong with more than enough reserves waiting. If Anderson &/or Swann get injured and Oz O.T. score is approached - England could be trouble. The winter Ashes will be very interesting.

  • Sunil_Batra on August 6, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    We nearly on the first game and it was only our batting in the first innigns of Lords that cost us. In this game we finally won the toss and showed we are not too far awya from beating England. I think we have our top 6 in the batting right now, I like that Warner is back in and Khawaja is our best 3 and Smith in the middle is great. Bowling wise i would like to see Bird and perhaps he will get his chance in this coming test given its a green top.

  • liz1558 on August 6, 2013, 17:15 GMT

    It's too early to say that Aus have turned a corner. Let's see them do it without a contribution from the skipper. Take away his knock and England would've been ahead. Clarke doesn't have a great overseas record, so the odds are against a repeat performance, just as the odds are in favour of England improving on a lacklustre bowling display.

  • 2MikeGattings on August 6, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    Green shoots? The stand out players were the old stagers. The young 'uns were certainly green but misfiring as often as not. Australia still struggling to find a balance between youth and experience.

  • whoster on August 6, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    The Aussies have only half-turned a corner - their big first innings total at Old Trafford was still dependent on a big score from Clarke. They're yet to post any sizeable totals when Clarke has failed, and the batting will always be shaky until that's put right.

    Their bowling attack is in far better shape; Siddle and Harris have bowled superbly with great stamina, while Lyon bowled better than his figures suggested. Having Watson available to bowl tight spells adds to their options. Their big question is whether Harris can cope with the workload of back-to-back Tests, and whether Starc or Bird gets the third seamer's spot.

    The situation remains for Australia that they look unlikely to beat England without a major innings from Clarke.

    PS. Hope the Aussies stay at Lumley Castle again. I remember 05 when Watson was crapping himself to the extent that he had to sleep with Clarke! Perhaps Cook and Flower could dress up as ghosties and really put the wind up them.

  • Bythebook on August 7, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    Great write-up Mark. There is almost always a good feel to your words. But now to the content. Surely the momentum has shifted a little and its more of Aus rising and Eng being unsteady. But still, this Eng team is by FAR the better side. This Eng team has almost all that it takes to be winning consistently - but it lacks the ONE thing which make great sides and this ONE thing is what I have never seen in an England side in all my years. No - it is not that they dont have killer instinct or have the desire to win. They have that. But they are not INTIMIDATING. The Windies of 70's and 80's were intimidating in their cricket. The Aussies under Waugh and Ponting were intimidating in the physicality of the way they played and sledged - AND they had champion talents to back it up. This Eng team has some great to very good talents to. But they are not as intimidating to the opponents as you would feel a GREAT side should be. Let us see them get intimidating and then we can judge...

  • landl47 on August 7, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    While Australia deserved to win, to say that they almost certainly would have done is going way too far. England has made a habit of going three down and then batting for a day after that; in fact, in this series they'd done it 3 successive times before the 2nd innings at Old Trafford. 2nd test, 1st innings, England 3-28, batted another 95 overs. 2nd test, 2nd innings, England 3-30, batted another 100 overs and declared. 3rd test, 1st innings 3-64, batted another 101 overs.

    All of those innings involved the remaining 7 England wickets surviving way more than the 78 overs left when rain called a halt at Old Trafford. Harris and Siddle had got 3 wickets with swing and a strangle diown the legside, but the new ball was 20 overs old and Aus hasn't been able to bowl England out once the new ball has lost its shine.

    Aus might have bowled England out, but given the previous history in this series, a draw was more likely.

  • AdamLBW on August 5, 2013, 21:44 GMT

    Great stuff again, Mark. There is nothing worse in sport than dashed hopes and unfulfilled expectations. If you expect your team to lose heavily and they do then you can deal with it. Not having the chance to knock England over today having played so well in the four days before is arguably a worse feeling than the Lord's test. England will surely feel this sense too - it was not meant to end like this. The series is still alive and well. England may have retained the Ashes but what have they actually retained? The urn exists in the Lord's museum. It doesn't move. Avoiding defeat simply honours an ancient tradition about the holders "keeping the urn" in the event of a draw. What if it was decided years ago that the urn went to the touring team in the event of a draw? Graeme Smith seemed disappointed when South Africa drew 1-1 with England in 09/10 even though he won in England in '08. It's because it's about winning. Avoid defeat at Durham and England will feel truly like winners.

  • jackiethepen on August 7, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    This is fanciful. England would take the break the rain gave them, not because they haven't the ability and the fight to bat for a draw but because it would have been another long day and back to back Tests don't allow time to restore the body and mind. It's a let off for cricketers who came into the Series after going to the Final in the Champions Trophy and being forced by rain to play t20 instead of 50 over cricket. The rain is impartial. They'll take the rest thank you and the urn. Do you seriously think these professional cricketers aren't already thinking about Durham and getting into the right mind set for that game, rather than mooning about how they didn't get the media stage after the match? Blame the administrators if you want a more stately Series which each match treasured instead of a conveyor belt of cricket. As it is cricketers like KP will be more worried about his body lasting for the next 7 Ashes Tests than how the weather rained on his parade.

  • cricket_ahan on August 7, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Big call Mark, is all I can say. Australia did play better, but I don't know if you can call it "turning a corner" just yet. Numerous people before this series even began said two things - Australia's only strengths are their pace battery and Michael Clarke. From what I can see on the scorecard, those are the strengths Australia drew on. Credit that they did, but this team is still learning and I feel it will still take some time before they really settle. I would say you are correct if they put up a fight in the next few tests as well - and in particular without a big Michael Clarke score. If they perform like they did in tests 1 and 2 though, I think it's still only a glimpse of the future.

  • DustBowl on August 6, 2013, 20:52 GMT

    Brilliant summary Mark , you write as you speak. However nothing about the batsmen, the seam bowlers are very strong with more than enough reserves waiting. If Anderson &/or Swann get injured and Oz O.T. score is approached - England could be trouble. The winter Ashes will be very interesting.

  • Sunil_Batra on August 6, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    We nearly on the first game and it was only our batting in the first innigns of Lords that cost us. In this game we finally won the toss and showed we are not too far awya from beating England. I think we have our top 6 in the batting right now, I like that Warner is back in and Khawaja is our best 3 and Smith in the middle is great. Bowling wise i would like to see Bird and perhaps he will get his chance in this coming test given its a green top.

  • liz1558 on August 6, 2013, 17:15 GMT

    It's too early to say that Aus have turned a corner. Let's see them do it without a contribution from the skipper. Take away his knock and England would've been ahead. Clarke doesn't have a great overseas record, so the odds are against a repeat performance, just as the odds are in favour of England improving on a lacklustre bowling display.

  • 2MikeGattings on August 6, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    Green shoots? The stand out players were the old stagers. The young 'uns were certainly green but misfiring as often as not. Australia still struggling to find a balance between youth and experience.

  • whoster on August 6, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    The Aussies have only half-turned a corner - their big first innings total at Old Trafford was still dependent on a big score from Clarke. They're yet to post any sizeable totals when Clarke has failed, and the batting will always be shaky until that's put right.

    Their bowling attack is in far better shape; Siddle and Harris have bowled superbly with great stamina, while Lyon bowled better than his figures suggested. Having Watson available to bowl tight spells adds to their options. Their big question is whether Harris can cope with the workload of back-to-back Tests, and whether Starc or Bird gets the third seamer's spot.

    The situation remains for Australia that they look unlikely to beat England without a major innings from Clarke.

    PS. Hope the Aussies stay at Lumley Castle again. I remember 05 when Watson was crapping himself to the extent that he had to sleep with Clarke! Perhaps Cook and Flower could dress up as ghosties and really put the wind up them.

  • on August 6, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    Australia improved because they had to - they are now a no frills team who have two good seamers. England battled with the knowledge of being 2-0 up in the series and the expectation that brings. England's batting needs now to be given one last opportunity in its current form - if Root, Trott and Bairstow don't give the rest of the order significant ballast, then other people need to be brought in. Chris Jordan must also be bashing on the door down at Sussex so Broad should be on notice too. "Watto" - and he's even beginning to look likt the junk seller in Star Wars - will be sleeping at the haunted castle too so there's little chance he'll improve......

  • on August 6, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    "Forget the million dollar smile, Alastair Cook is more ruthless than you might care to think. He hated the anti-climax and the fact that he, the England captain on the day the Ashes were retained, had to answer questions on how the rain had saved him, how the batsmen were vulnerable and how the balance of power had shifted. He hated it."

    I hope so, Mark. I hope so.

  • on August 6, 2013, 10:21 GMT

    More sympathy for a bog average team, that just lost the ashes in the quickest time for an Australian side since the 1928/29 series.

  • on August 6, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    Australia played well at Old Trafford, but claiming they turned a corner is looking for a narrative where there really isn't one. Australia's bowling was incisive, but no more so than it has been since Harris and Pattinson/Starc have come in to support Siddle (ignoring the India tour and their dustbowl pitches, of course). We managed to roll England for similar scores in the first two tests, and had taken 3 wickets very cheaply a few times before. Nothing new there in the Old Trafford performace... Australia's got a number of quality pace bowlers, doing the job test after test.

    The issue in recent times has been the batting, and much as one swallow does not make a sprine, one 500+ score does not turn a corner, especially not when that score was built around a big hundred from the one class batsman in the team. When Australia starts to get regular hundreds from multiple players in the list, and make big scores without Clarke cashing in... well then they'll have turned the corner.

  • ramli on August 6, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    Aus has certainly turned the corner ... from the whitewash in India ... but could still be facing with darkness to lose way on the other side???

  • Liquefierrrr on August 6, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    CONT'D - and by then there will be no Swann, Anderson, Pietersen to rely upon.

    English cricket is extremely healthy at present, certainly compared to the 1990-2005 era, however it is in a bubble at present, to be enjoyed, certainly and rightfully and wholeheartedly, but I believe it should be enjoyed with an eye on where Australia is now compared with where they were a few short seasons ago.

    This will happen to England. And when it does I hope they've learned the lessons that Australia are learning now ahead of time, for if they do not then the articles, and subsequent comments, on cricinfo will be right back where they were not so long ago at all.

    With 'tacticians' like Cook, who is ultimately an extremely boring and defensive but effective batsman who is very one-dimensional as a captain, they risk undermining their excellent current crop of players by not reacting swiftly enough when their 'grind'em'down' tactics fail. Which they will, not a lot but enough.

  • Liquefierrrr on August 6, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    @ reply (August 6, 2013, 5:06 GMT) - Yes, Steve Waugh's team used plenty of underhanded tactics, mainly destroying the opponent to within an inch of their lives for around 12-straight years.

    My memory is long, it has to be, as our current crop of Aussie players are bordering on terrible most of the time.

    I don't recall Shane Warne ever spending 5 minutes on tying up his shoes, or Steve Waugh instructing Glenn McGrath to take 7 minutes to bowl an over. They sledged opponents mercilessly and dished out hidings en masse, but such 'underhanded' tactics, if that is what they are, are oranges compared to the apples I spoke about.

    Your comments, aside from the ones I refer to above, suggest a self-awareness of exactly what this current English side is and is not. I tip my hat to that, seriously. As Australia destroyed the world of cricket for around 15-20 years (depending on the country) a lot of posters on here are revelling this.

    We are bad, for now, but we'll be back. CONT'D

  • on August 6, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    @ Liquefierrrr - The current English team is not comparable to those teams simply because they don't have such talented players, it has nothing to do with how they play. Steve Waugh's "invincibles" used far more underhanded techniques. You seem to have a pretty short memory or you never saw Steve Waugh's Aussies play. The current English team is not half as talented but they are punching above their weight by fighting tooth and nail. They are not destroyers and they will never be destroyers because they don't have that much ability. But they are smart enough to know what they are and they won't attempt to bite off more than they can handle.

  • ganeshrajus on August 6, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    Though england retain the ashes but in this match total credit should go to australian they fought hard to win the match if it had not rained australia would have won the watch I pity clarke he has done everything to win watch and he showed how caption should lead from the front

  • Liquefierrrr on August 6, 2013, 3:49 GMT

    Cook a very average, defensive captain who leads a fairly good side. This current England team, whilst good, will never be a great team.

    Can you imagine Steve Waugh's 'Invincibles' or the terrifying West Indies team of the 80's slowly tying up their shoes, blatantly fumbling around to waste time or batting like corpses in pads from day 2 to salvage a draw?

    Their actions, whilst technically legal, reek of a very defensive frame of mind, whereby once you scratch the surface of their 'grind 'em down' ethic you are not left with much else.

    Anderson was shown to be what he truly is - a reasonable fast bowler in his peak who 5 years after retirement will be forgotten. Broad is even less than that. Swann is a very good spinner, however his average hovers around 28-29 which no great of the game ever would.

    Bell is great, Trott looks weak, Root and Bairstow are not saviours. They have beaten a horrible Aus team and that's about all they can take from this. Very middling.

  • mudders on August 6, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    hhillbumper - Siddle is only 28. Anderson is older and England's pace attack relies almost exclusively on him.

    At least Australia have avoided a whitewash, and rightfully remain the only side to win an Ashes 5-0.

  • on August 6, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    Australia "would pretty much certainly have won" is a big call, considering England have been 3 down for not many in almost every other innings in the series so far. And on each occasion they've gone on to bat for longer than it would have taken them to save this match. Root and Bell have gone big and long in previous matches and there's no reason to believe they wouldn't have done it again. Hyperbole is fun though.

  • The_other_side on August 5, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    I must say Australia have played lot better than they did in Dust bowls of India.Also the kind of spell Ryan Harris produced should keep England very circumspect, provided Harris stays fit. Definitely Australia seemed more hungry (Why is England suddenly not hungry???). England on the other hand looked relieved with weather taking over. For England, batting is still a worry apart from Ian Bell. Australia on the other hand need their top and middle order to contribute and supplement Michael Clarke. Forget that England have retained Ashes... there are still two cracker of test matches in my opinion.

  • hhillbumper on August 5, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    Australia played well in this test.But good teams find a way to win or draw when their back is against the wall and lets face it England could have batted this one out.We will never know.It all starts again on Friday hopefully with England being slightly more in their batting then Bell and a nother.But if you look at the player who did well this test there was Clarke who we all knew to be a world class batsman and two seamers who are getting on a bit.Of the younger players only Smith can be said to have advanced.

  • on August 5, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    I think you might be wrong about Cook. He showed his true, weak colours in this match. Played for the draw from day 2. Had a chance after the first innings. If they had have attacked and bowled Australia out cheaply, he would have given his team a chance to win. But his weak, fragile mind left him leading a weak, spiritless team. Cook deserves no praise, he is loving the fact they didn't lose.

  • on August 5, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    I think you might be wrong about Cook. He showed his true, weak colours in this match. Played for the draw from day 2. Had a chance after the first innings. If they had have attacked and bowled Australia out cheaply, he would have given his team a chance to win. But his weak, fragile mind left him leading a weak, spiritless team. Cook deserves no praise, he is loving the fact they didn't lose.

  • hhillbumper on August 5, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    Australia played well in this test.But good teams find a way to win or draw when their back is against the wall and lets face it England could have batted this one out.We will never know.It all starts again on Friday hopefully with England being slightly more in their batting then Bell and a nother.But if you look at the player who did well this test there was Clarke who we all knew to be a world class batsman and two seamers who are getting on a bit.Of the younger players only Smith can be said to have advanced.

  • The_other_side on August 5, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    I must say Australia have played lot better than they did in Dust bowls of India.Also the kind of spell Ryan Harris produced should keep England very circumspect, provided Harris stays fit. Definitely Australia seemed more hungry (Why is England suddenly not hungry???). England on the other hand looked relieved with weather taking over. For England, batting is still a worry apart from Ian Bell. Australia on the other hand need their top and middle order to contribute and supplement Michael Clarke. Forget that England have retained Ashes... there are still two cracker of test matches in my opinion.

  • on August 6, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    Australia "would pretty much certainly have won" is a big call, considering England have been 3 down for not many in almost every other innings in the series so far. And on each occasion they've gone on to bat for longer than it would have taken them to save this match. Root and Bell have gone big and long in previous matches and there's no reason to believe they wouldn't have done it again. Hyperbole is fun though.

  • mudders on August 6, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    hhillbumper - Siddle is only 28. Anderson is older and England's pace attack relies almost exclusively on him.

    At least Australia have avoided a whitewash, and rightfully remain the only side to win an Ashes 5-0.

  • Liquefierrrr on August 6, 2013, 3:49 GMT

    Cook a very average, defensive captain who leads a fairly good side. This current England team, whilst good, will never be a great team.

    Can you imagine Steve Waugh's 'Invincibles' or the terrifying West Indies team of the 80's slowly tying up their shoes, blatantly fumbling around to waste time or batting like corpses in pads from day 2 to salvage a draw?

    Their actions, whilst technically legal, reek of a very defensive frame of mind, whereby once you scratch the surface of their 'grind 'em down' ethic you are not left with much else.

    Anderson was shown to be what he truly is - a reasonable fast bowler in his peak who 5 years after retirement will be forgotten. Broad is even less than that. Swann is a very good spinner, however his average hovers around 28-29 which no great of the game ever would.

    Bell is great, Trott looks weak, Root and Bairstow are not saviours. They have beaten a horrible Aus team and that's about all they can take from this. Very middling.

  • ganeshrajus on August 6, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    Though england retain the ashes but in this match total credit should go to australian they fought hard to win the match if it had not rained australia would have won the watch I pity clarke he has done everything to win watch and he showed how caption should lead from the front

  • on August 6, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    @ Liquefierrrr - The current English team is not comparable to those teams simply because they don't have such talented players, it has nothing to do with how they play. Steve Waugh's "invincibles" used far more underhanded techniques. You seem to have a pretty short memory or you never saw Steve Waugh's Aussies play. The current English team is not half as talented but they are punching above their weight by fighting tooth and nail. They are not destroyers and they will never be destroyers because they don't have that much ability. But they are smart enough to know what they are and they won't attempt to bite off more than they can handle.

  • Liquefierrrr on August 6, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    @ reply (August 6, 2013, 5:06 GMT) - Yes, Steve Waugh's team used plenty of underhanded tactics, mainly destroying the opponent to within an inch of their lives for around 12-straight years.

    My memory is long, it has to be, as our current crop of Aussie players are bordering on terrible most of the time.

    I don't recall Shane Warne ever spending 5 minutes on tying up his shoes, or Steve Waugh instructing Glenn McGrath to take 7 minutes to bowl an over. They sledged opponents mercilessly and dished out hidings en masse, but such 'underhanded' tactics, if that is what they are, are oranges compared to the apples I spoke about.

    Your comments, aside from the ones I refer to above, suggest a self-awareness of exactly what this current English side is and is not. I tip my hat to that, seriously. As Australia destroyed the world of cricket for around 15-20 years (depending on the country) a lot of posters on here are revelling this.

    We are bad, for now, but we'll be back. CONT'D

  • Liquefierrrr on August 6, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    CONT'D - and by then there will be no Swann, Anderson, Pietersen to rely upon.

    English cricket is extremely healthy at present, certainly compared to the 1990-2005 era, however it is in a bubble at present, to be enjoyed, certainly and rightfully and wholeheartedly, but I believe it should be enjoyed with an eye on where Australia is now compared with where they were a few short seasons ago.

    This will happen to England. And when it does I hope they've learned the lessons that Australia are learning now ahead of time, for if they do not then the articles, and subsequent comments, on cricinfo will be right back where they were not so long ago at all.

    With 'tacticians' like Cook, who is ultimately an extremely boring and defensive but effective batsman who is very one-dimensional as a captain, they risk undermining their excellent current crop of players by not reacting swiftly enough when their 'grind'em'down' tactics fail. Which they will, not a lot but enough.