August 16, 2013

Much closer than 3-0

Despite the series scoreline, England's batting average is only 3.66 more than Australia's, which is the lowest since 1970 in a series with a margin of three of more Tests
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A series win by a margin of three games is usually an indication of utter domination, of one team being significantly better than the other with both bat and ball. England currently lead Australia by that margin in the Ashes, and if they draw or win at The Oval it'll be the 59th instance, since 1970, of a team winning a series by a margin of three or more matches - 53 of those have been in series when the opposition hasn't won a single Test, and six when they've won a Test but lost four or more.

However, this series hasn't been a typical thrashing, as Andy Zaltzman also points out in this piece. The masterful Ian Bell aside, England's other batsmen have struggled to impose themselves on the Australian bowlers: Bell averages 71.42, but the next-best is Joe Root's 37.14, and even that was only because of one huge score of 180; in his remaining seven innings, Root has collected 80 runs. Cook, Trott and Bairstow all average less than 30, and while Kevin Pietersen has played a couple of important innings, his series average is only 34.50. Australia's bowlers have been persistent and difficult to get away, conceding 2.95 runs per over, but poor top-order batting, untimely weather interruptions, and several marginal calls going against them has undermined the bowling effort.

Despite the gulf in the series scoreline, Australia's batsmen have scored 28.81 runs per wicket, which is only 3.66 fewer than England's average; in percentage terms, Australia's average is only 11.27% lower than England's. This is the least among all series which have been decided by a margin of three or more matches, since 1970.

In terms of actual difference between the batting and bowling averages in these series, the next-lowest is 6.45, in the six-Test Ashes in 1978, when England beat a Packer-depleted Australia 5-1. That, though, was an extremely low-scoring series, with David Gower being the only batsman from either side to average more than 40. (Click here for England's averages, and here for Australia's.) Overall in the series, England's players scored 25.62 runs per wicket, and conceded 19.17 per wicket. While the actual difference was 6.45, Australia's average was 25% lower than England's, which is a significant difference compared to 11.27% in the current series.

In percentage terms, the next-lowest was also in a series involving Australia, but on that occasion they were the winners, as they overcame first-innings deficits in each of the three Tests to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. In that series, Australia averaged almost 36 runs per wicket, with Darren Lehmann and Damien Martyn scoring two hundreds each; Sri Lanka's average was 28.75, which was 19.42% below Australia's average.

England were at the receiving end of such a result too not so long ago, when they slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the UAE. That was a low-scoring series too, with the overall numbers very similar to the 1978 Ashes - Pakistan averaged 25.76 to England's 19.06, which, in percentage terms, was a fairly significant difference.

During this period (since 1970), there have been 11 instances of teams winning by a margin of three or more Tests despite the differences in averages being below ten. Among them are West Indies' 3-0 win in six Tests against India in 1983-84, when they had a point to prove after being beaten by India in the World Cup final, and England's 3-0 verdict in the four-Test series in the West Indies in 2004. In the latter series, West Indies lost the first three Tests comprehensively and then closed the gap in terms of series averages only because of Brian Lara's unbeaten 400, which helped West Indies score 751 for 5 and improve their series batting numbers.

Least difference between batting and bowling averages in comprehensive series wins*
Team Series Tests Result Bat ave Bowl ave Ave diff % diff^
England v Australia, at home, 2013 4 3-0 32.47 28.81 3.66 11.27
England v Australia, away, 1978 6 5-1 25.62 19.17 6.45 25.18
Pakistan v England in the UAE, 2012 3 3-0 25.76 19.06 6.70 26.01
Australia v Sri Lanka, away, 2004 3 3-0 35.68 28.75 6.93 19.42
Australia v New Zealand, away, 2000 3 3-0 31.31 23.90 7.41 23.67
West Indies v India, away, 1983 6 3-0 34.94 27.47 7.47 21.38
England v West Indies, away, 2004 4 3-0 36.06 28.36 7.70 21.35
England v Australia, home, 1977 5 3-0 34.84 25.73 9.11 26.15
England v Pakistan, home, 2006 4 3-0 43.60 34.32 9.28 21.28
Australia v India, home, 1991 5 4-0 35.13 25.83 9.30 26.47
Pakistan v Bangladesh, home, 2003 3 3-0 33.95 24.23 9.72 28.63
* Series wins by a margin of three or more Tests
^ Percentage by which losing team's batting average was lower than the winning team's

At the other end of the scale are the series where the scorelines completely justified the gulf between the teams. Take, for example, the first row in the table below: Sri Lanka were all over Bangladesh in the home series in 2007, winning all three Tests by an innings, and two of them by more than an innings and 150 runs. Sri Lanka averaged 95.50 runs per wicket with the bat, and 16.85 with the ball - they lost 16 wickets in the entire series, while Bangladesh lost 60. Also high on the list is India's humiliation in England in 1974, when they were bowled out for 42 at Lord's, which remains their lowest Test score. They lost two of the three Tests in that series by an innings. Thirty-seven years later they met with a similar fate in 2011, when they were annihilated 4-0 by a rampant England, losing two Tests by an innings, and another by more than 300 runs. India had a similarly dominant time against England at home in 1993, when they won two out of three Tests by an innings.

Nine of the ten most comprehensive series wins listed below were won by the home team, which isn't surprising. The only away series in the list below is the 1989 Ashes, when an unstoppable Australian line-up, under Allan Border, destroyed England 4-0. Four of Australia's top-order batsmen averaged more than 70 in that series. That's a stat that Michael Clarke and his team can only wistfully look at, given that in the current Ashes, Clarke's 49.42 is the best average by an Australian batsman.

Highest difference between batting and bowling averages in comprehensive series wins*
Team Series Tests Results Bat ave Bowl ave Ave diff % diff^
Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, home, 2007 3 3-0 95.50 16.85 78.65 82.36
England v India, home, 1974 3 3-0 67.87 19.54 48.33 71.21
Australia v Sri Lanka, home, 1995 3 3-0 72.11 28.16 43.95 60.95
Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, home, 2001 3 3-0 61.46 19.10 42.36 68.92
Pakistan v Australia, home, 1982 3 3-0 62.41 24.85 37.56 60.18
India v Sri Lanka, home, 1994 3 3-0 54.23 19.65 34.58 63.77
England v India, home, 2011 4 4-0 59.76 25.55 34.21 57.25
South Africa v West Indies, home, 2003 4 3-0 67.31 34.94 32.37 48.09
India v England, home, 1993 3 3-0 57.28 26.05 31.23 54.52
Australia v England, away, 1989 6 4-0 57.86 27.71 30.15 52.11
* Series wins by a margin of three or more Tests
^ Percentage by which losing team's batting average was lower than the winning team's

Clarke's nemesis - Anderson or Broad?

Before Ashes 2013, James Anderson was clearly the one England bowler who had troubled Clarke the most: he had dismissed him six times in 255 balls, at an average of 25.50 runs per wicket. Stuart Broad, on the other hand, had dismissed him twice in 187 balls before this Ashes, at an average of 44.50.

In Ashes 2013, though, Broad has clearly been Clarke's biggest nemesis. Though Anderson dismissed him in the first innings of the first Test - bowled for a duck by a peach which pitched on off and straightened - since then it's been all Broad: he has dismissed Clarke five times in six innings. In this series, Clarke has averaged 67 against Anderson, and 14 against Broad. Clearly, there's been something about Broad that has bothered Clarke, which wasn't so earlier. Thanks to Broad's exploits in this series, he is only of four bowlers who has dismissed Clarke seven times in Tests, and his overall average against Clarke has improved to 22.71; against Anderson, Clarke's average has crept up to 31.42.

Clarke in Tests v Anderson and Broad
  Before Ashes 2013 In Ashes 2013
Bowler Runs/ balls Dismissals Average Runs/ balls Dismissals Average
James Anderson 153/ 255 6 25.50 67/ 114 1 67.00
Stuart Broad 89/ 187 2 44.50 70/ 137 5 14.00

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 16, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    Statistics and Cricket clearly go hand-in-hand and thats what makes the game so enjoyable to debate. For every player there are tangible statistics either supporting why he has got to play the highest form of the game, or observations from experts stating why he has the ability to well when the statistics don't back up performances. For me the fact that it's 3-0 tells exactly the right story. Just as in 1997 had Graham Thorpe caught Matt Elliott we may have won those ashes, or if we'd held out in Adelaide in 2006/7 it may not have been 5-0. The truth is we lost in 1997 and it was 5-0 in 2006/7. To say these sides are more even than 3-0 doesn't make sense. I agree 3-1 would be a fair score line that Australia only missed through rain. However as pointed out above, England have been below the standard expected in this series. If just two of Cook, Trott, Prior and to some extent Root and Pietersen all played one further innings to their potential at Manchester we'd be talking about 5-0.

  • landl47 on August 16, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Though this article doesn't, for some reason, mention this, there are two reasons why the difference between the sides is narrower than usual.

    The first is that Australia were well on top in the game that was rained out at Old Trafford. Australia lost 14 wickets in scoring 699 runs; England lost 13 in scoring 405. That's a difference of about 19 runs per wicket. Because the game was abandoned as a draw, the 3-0 series score stands.

    The second is the unprecedented 10th wicket runs scored by Aus in the 1st test. The 228 combined for the 10th wicket lifted Aus from around 19 runs per wicket to almost 29, close to 10rpw difference. While statistically it doesn't matter where the runs come from, in real life that record performance made the game seen closer overall than it actually was.

    Take those events into account and England are winning the series by a comfortable margin; not as comfortable as 3-0 would suggest, but it's not an even series. 3-1 would be a fair reflection.

  • 200ondebut on August 20, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Lies, damn lies and statistics - the beauty of statistics like these is that you can always manipulate them to fit your argument. Choosing and mis-interpreting those that fit the best and casually ignoring those that don't.

    Unfortunately cricket results do not have a technical merit, artistic content or any other subjective element - it is win , lose or draw. They are statements of facts and not of degrees.

    As such it doesn't matter whether all of the games were one sided or evenly balanced. All that matters is the result. It could conversely be argued that winning an evenly contested series so emphatically is actually a better result than winning easily - it means that England have seized the moment when it counts and have not buckled under the pressure.

    It is though 3 - Nil - and that is all that matters.

  • sweet2hrme on August 20, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    This stats looks good on paper only..its like in last 2 over aus need just 24 runs to win and 7 wickets in hand but some how aus in next over loose 6wickets for nothing now req. 24 runs in 1 over and 1 wicket in hand.. so Match over now we are making next stats for next game "Much closer than 4-0"

  • Cloakey on August 17, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    I enjoyed reading your analysis but I feel the difference is that while we can compare the stats and say it is close, the difference is that, at any moment, Australia never actually look like winning and England do.

    It seems like Australia has now found itself in the same situation as NZ did some years ago after their best players all steadily retired. They now, like NZ, are a team that can beat anyone on their day if everything meshes, but that hasn't happened for a while and can't be expected to.

    Once Clarke has had a gutsful they have will no longer have any "stars".

  • harshthakor on August 17, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    2-1 would have been the fair margin in a hard fought test series.England often failed to deliver the knock out killer punch at crucial junctures and almost let games slip away ,with the 1st test at Trent Bridge being the best example.Infact the English batting middle order failed to capitalize which could have made their side far more worthy winners.

    The series proved that test cricket is the best form of the game and that Ashes cricket is still the ultimate spectacle.The wickets too were sporting,above everything.I praise the Aussies for coming back with such heart after the debacle at Lords.

  • harshthakor on August 17, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    Overall,considering they were literally written off at the start of the series the Australian team has done itself credit.They deserved to win the 3rd test at Manchester and gave England a strong run for their money in the 1st and 4th test.With luck on their side the Aussies may well have been at 2-2 or atleast not more than 2-1 down.Only at Lords did England look on a different street.Neverthless England deserved to win the series being the better team in 3 of the 4 test matches played.

    Above all this series has been a victory for test cricket on the whole if you remember the twists and turns in the 1st and 4th test matches.The intensity and competitive spirit was remarkable.The tradition of Ashes cricket has been rekindled.

  • brittop on August 16, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    @sifter132: If your taking Ian Bell's runs, I'm taking Ryan Harris's wickets. Where would Australia be then?

  • Essex_Man on August 16, 2013, 21:22 GMT

    What these statistics cannot demonstrate is that England have won every single crucial passage of play in every game when it has really mattered. In light of that fact, I also don't agree that Australia would have won at Old Trafford if it hadn't rained - England have been 3 down for not very many several times in this series, but on no occasion has Australia's bowling "attack" been good enough to press home the advantage. I would say that 3-0 is a very accurate reflection of how the two sides have performed.

  • cricket-india on August 16, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    this is the prob with stats...while it's true English batters have not been at their best, especially cook and trot, the oz batting stats are inflated by agar's 98 and the last wkt stand for the 4th innings in the first test (again a tail end job). the first test was won by 15 runs but it can't be considered a 'close' one by any means. oz could have lost heavily (as they subsequently did at lords) after conceding a 200+ lead and having to chase 450+. so the 3rd test was close - maybe oz would have even won. 3-0 is not an entirely accurate reflection of the relative performances of the teams, perhaps 3-1 flatters the oz too much (remember England were 3 down in the 4th innings but could have very well drawn the 3rd test with cook and bell still at the crease); personally I think 3-0 is closest to the truth even if it's not the full truth.

  • on August 16, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    Statistics and Cricket clearly go hand-in-hand and thats what makes the game so enjoyable to debate. For every player there are tangible statistics either supporting why he has got to play the highest form of the game, or observations from experts stating why he has the ability to well when the statistics don't back up performances. For me the fact that it's 3-0 tells exactly the right story. Just as in 1997 had Graham Thorpe caught Matt Elliott we may have won those ashes, or if we'd held out in Adelaide in 2006/7 it may not have been 5-0. The truth is we lost in 1997 and it was 5-0 in 2006/7. To say these sides are more even than 3-0 doesn't make sense. I agree 3-1 would be a fair score line that Australia only missed through rain. However as pointed out above, England have been below the standard expected in this series. If just two of Cook, Trott, Prior and to some extent Root and Pietersen all played one further innings to their potential at Manchester we'd be talking about 5-0.

  • landl47 on August 16, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Though this article doesn't, for some reason, mention this, there are two reasons why the difference between the sides is narrower than usual.

    The first is that Australia were well on top in the game that was rained out at Old Trafford. Australia lost 14 wickets in scoring 699 runs; England lost 13 in scoring 405. That's a difference of about 19 runs per wicket. Because the game was abandoned as a draw, the 3-0 series score stands.

    The second is the unprecedented 10th wicket runs scored by Aus in the 1st test. The 228 combined for the 10th wicket lifted Aus from around 19 runs per wicket to almost 29, close to 10rpw difference. While statistically it doesn't matter where the runs come from, in real life that record performance made the game seen closer overall than it actually was.

    Take those events into account and England are winning the series by a comfortable margin; not as comfortable as 3-0 would suggest, but it's not an even series. 3-1 would be a fair reflection.

  • 200ondebut on August 20, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Lies, damn lies and statistics - the beauty of statistics like these is that you can always manipulate them to fit your argument. Choosing and mis-interpreting those that fit the best and casually ignoring those that don't.

    Unfortunately cricket results do not have a technical merit, artistic content or any other subjective element - it is win , lose or draw. They are statements of facts and not of degrees.

    As such it doesn't matter whether all of the games were one sided or evenly balanced. All that matters is the result. It could conversely be argued that winning an evenly contested series so emphatically is actually a better result than winning easily - it means that England have seized the moment when it counts and have not buckled under the pressure.

    It is though 3 - Nil - and that is all that matters.

  • sweet2hrme on August 20, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    This stats looks good on paper only..its like in last 2 over aus need just 24 runs to win and 7 wickets in hand but some how aus in next over loose 6wickets for nothing now req. 24 runs in 1 over and 1 wicket in hand.. so Match over now we are making next stats for next game "Much closer than 4-0"

  • Cloakey on August 17, 2013, 7:39 GMT

    I enjoyed reading your analysis but I feel the difference is that while we can compare the stats and say it is close, the difference is that, at any moment, Australia never actually look like winning and England do.

    It seems like Australia has now found itself in the same situation as NZ did some years ago after their best players all steadily retired. They now, like NZ, are a team that can beat anyone on their day if everything meshes, but that hasn't happened for a while and can't be expected to.

    Once Clarke has had a gutsful they have will no longer have any "stars".

  • harshthakor on August 17, 2013, 3:54 GMT

    2-1 would have been the fair margin in a hard fought test series.England often failed to deliver the knock out killer punch at crucial junctures and almost let games slip away ,with the 1st test at Trent Bridge being the best example.Infact the English batting middle order failed to capitalize which could have made their side far more worthy winners.

    The series proved that test cricket is the best form of the game and that Ashes cricket is still the ultimate spectacle.The wickets too were sporting,above everything.I praise the Aussies for coming back with such heart after the debacle at Lords.

  • harshthakor on August 17, 2013, 3:48 GMT

    Overall,considering they were literally written off at the start of the series the Australian team has done itself credit.They deserved to win the 3rd test at Manchester and gave England a strong run for their money in the 1st and 4th test.With luck on their side the Aussies may well have been at 2-2 or atleast not more than 2-1 down.Only at Lords did England look on a different street.Neverthless England deserved to win the series being the better team in 3 of the 4 test matches played.

    Above all this series has been a victory for test cricket on the whole if you remember the twists and turns in the 1st and 4th test matches.The intensity and competitive spirit was remarkable.The tradition of Ashes cricket has been rekindled.

  • brittop on August 16, 2013, 21:51 GMT

    @sifter132: If your taking Ian Bell's runs, I'm taking Ryan Harris's wickets. Where would Australia be then?

  • Essex_Man on August 16, 2013, 21:22 GMT

    What these statistics cannot demonstrate is that England have won every single crucial passage of play in every game when it has really mattered. In light of that fact, I also don't agree that Australia would have won at Old Trafford if it hadn't rained - England have been 3 down for not very many several times in this series, but on no occasion has Australia's bowling "attack" been good enough to press home the advantage. I would say that 3-0 is a very accurate reflection of how the two sides have performed.

  • cricket-india on August 16, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    this is the prob with stats...while it's true English batters have not been at their best, especially cook and trot, the oz batting stats are inflated by agar's 98 and the last wkt stand for the 4th innings in the first test (again a tail end job). the first test was won by 15 runs but it can't be considered a 'close' one by any means. oz could have lost heavily (as they subsequently did at lords) after conceding a 200+ lead and having to chase 450+. so the 3rd test was close - maybe oz would have even won. 3-0 is not an entirely accurate reflection of the relative performances of the teams, perhaps 3-1 flatters the oz too much (remember England were 3 down in the 4th innings but could have very well drawn the 3rd test with cook and bell still at the crease); personally I think 3-0 is closest to the truth even if it's not the full truth.

  • thejesusofcool on August 16, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    In case some of you didn't realise, there are ten wickets to take in every innings & whether the 1st or 10th wicket realises the biggest stand in any given innings doesn't matter one bit.

    As has frequently been said at all levels of cricket by someone who's just edged you for 4-I paid for the whole bat, edges as well! Same principle applies here.

    Aus have shown decent fighting spirit in 3 of the 4 Tests, but have failed to enlarge those early breakthroughs 7 times out of 7(ignore the 2nd innings at OT & weather interference) & skittle us once for >200. They are also noticeably much less well served chasing & batting 2nd by their specialist batting than us, in that Bell(thrice) & KP once have put match-winning or saving centuries together when the heat was really on.

    In some ways, it has been much closer than 3-0, but we have tended to stay on top most times once we get there & Aus haven't managed that nor to maintain any psychological advantage for long enough either.

  • Zetta on August 16, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    Australia are still to win a test. England are 3 - 0 and they deserve to be. That's it! Stats don't show everything you know ~

  • willsrustynuts on August 16, 2013, 14:50 GMT

    There is only one statistic that matters.... yes, 3-zip.

  • Jaffa79 on August 16, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    All 'what if' talk is pointless. We can all look to decisions and incidents in this series that went one way or the other. DRS has been a shambles but a shambles for both teams let us remember. England have won the crucial sessions and decisive moments, just like in '09. Great sports teams win when they are not at their best and win from unlikely situations. England, whilst not great, are a team that can beat Australia at 75%. How scary is it that Cook, Trott and Prior might hit form in Aus? If so, it'll be back to wins by an innings.

  • on August 16, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    As far as marginal decisions have gone, Australia have had every bit as much luck as England. A cojple of examples: Agar first innings at Trent Bridge - out stumped; Steve Smith out twice LBW at Old Trafford, once outrageously not given. Had they been given Australia would have been thrashed at Trent Bridge and might well have only scored 350-400 at Old Trafford.

    There have been lots of other marginal ones that were unpires calls that both sudes have benefitted or suffered from. Luck's got nothing to do with this win, it's mostly to do with Ian Bell - he has been immense in this series - and a bowling attack that is more consistency..

  • on August 16, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    It's 3-0 rather than 3-1 because Australia failed to get the follow-on. Had England won the toss, scored 520-odd, do we think that this Australian line-up would have avoided the follow-on and thus defeat?

    In each match, England have had at least one innings above 330. In only one match have Australia had a score above 270. That's the difference.

  • WhoCaresAboutIPL on August 16, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    One analysis that I have not seen is how many overs England have batted in this series after the (often premature) loss of their third wicket. Since in several of the innings where they made over 300 they were ca. 30-3, I would guess is would be 80-110 overs? Since when the rain came at OT there were only around 60 overs to play, averages would then give it as a certain draw (and, after all Ian Bell was still batting) so keeping it 3-0.

  • ReverseSweepRhino on August 16, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    Australia have simply not been a good enough side in this series. Even if England have only been marginally better, they have been consistently marginally better. Consistently being 1% better in every match is good enough for a team to be on a winning run.

  • on August 16, 2013, 11:59 GMT

    This statistical analysis is not an accurate representation. Take away Clarke and Bell - that leaves Pietersen, Cook, Trott and Root with only Rogers on the other side to dig them out from 30-3 as they all have done this series. Remove Harris and Anderson - England have Broad and Swann with match-winning performances against no one on the Australian side. Even if Siddle has taken a bag of wickets, he's never once looked a match-winner.

    Another way to look at it, who's been all at sea? The closest England have are Root and Prior. Australia, however, can ask the question "Apart from Buck Rogers and Pup, who has stepped up?" and find it very hard to credibly put forth even a single name. As for the bowlers, all of England's have performed well except for Finn. Neither of Starc, Pattinson, Bird, Watson or Agar can say they have had a great series with the ball.

    Whichever way you look at it, Australia are flattered by the statistics.

  • Mid-off on August 16, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    Much closer than 3 - 0, but an inch is as good as a mile, - the score STILL reads 3 - zip!

  • RichardG on August 16, 2013, 11:00 GMT

    "and several marginal calls going against them"

    Arrgghhh!!! Can we stop with this narrative that the umpires have had it in for Australia and thus hampered them, please? Both teams have been one the receiving end of a similar number of howlers, it's just that England seem to have made less of it (understandably, since they are winning. Had Australia been winning it would probably have been the other way around).

    As for the draw at Old Trafford, yes Australia were on top but a win wasn't a cast-iron certainty. Also, Australia had four days to win the test (all of England's wins have come in four days, tight games and thrashings alike) which had they been as dominant as people are claiming, would should have been more than enough.

  • PFEL on August 16, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    I don't understand the comments regarding Australia's 10th wicket partnerships? It's like people are suggesting that they "don't count". Which is rubbish. You could say the same thing about England and say "Let's take out Ian Bell's runs and see that Australia are actually a lot better than England", either one doesn't make any sense.

  • Aloke_Mondkar on August 16, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    The bottom line is that the score is 3-0 which is what I would have expected before the series began. That being said, it could easily have been 2-2 (1st and 3rd test to Australia). What also intrigues me is that 1 great bowler (McGrath or Warne) or 1 great batsman (e.g. Ponting) could have changed it. Typically, teams that are supposed to suck so bad cannot be saved by 1 or 2 players and this gives me hope for Australia. Really looking forward to the Ashes in Australia when a) England wont have the benefit of swing and b) Australia will be in their backyard. For a team that lost 5-6 truly great players together they have done decently (even with a 3-0 scoreline). My suggestion would be to stick to a core group of 8-9 players from this squad and add/subtract till you find the right combination. Given this cricket lover hates T20, I cant wait to see more exciting test matches.

  • jmcilhinney on August 16, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    @sifter132 on (August 16, 2013, 9:49 GMT), it's not that a 10th wicket partnership should be discounted but to say that the Australian batting is as good as the England batting based on that game being close isn't really justified. That said, Agar isn't really a #11 so it wasn't a really genuine 10th wicket partnership. You're probably right that Bell has been the difference but consider that most people probably would have considered Bell to be England's fourth best batsman before the series, backed up by averages. If Australia's batting fails, do you really think that Australia's fourth best batsman could stand up consistently the way Bell has? This series has been uncharacteristically quiet for Cook, Trott, KP and Prior. How many of the Australian batsmen could you say have played out of character?

  • sifter132 on August 16, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    @landl47 I don't see why a 10th wicket partnership should be discounted. In that 1st Test England scored most of their runs through a Bell-Broad partnership. Is an 8th wicket partnership somehow OK, but a 10th wicket one just luck? Certainly not, especially when you consider that the 8th wicket one had quite a bit of luck...a certain oversight from Mr Aleem Dar at the forefront.

    The difference between the 2 sides has been Ian Bell - simple as that. Take out his runs and partnerships, replace them with an average player, and Australia probably has 2 victories (1st and 4th Test).

  • liz1558 on August 16, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    @Applejack - Excellent point.

    The best team always wins. Simples.

    Had England been a truly great side, then they would probably have wiped the floor with Australia in the way that Australia used to demolish everyone else. The fact is that England are a good side that have done enough with ball AND bat, regardless of the top three failing, to win the series by a comfortable margin. No Ausie bowler has produced a match winning spell, whereas Swann, Broad and Anderson have. And Australia have been set ungettable targets in three Tests by England's batting line up. Bell has been the star, but everyone else has made important contributions at one time or another.

  • Romanticstud on August 16, 2013, 8:48 GMT

    Good Article ... It has been closer than the 3-0 figure suggests ... It is like a soccer game where the winner is scored in injury time ... that was true with the 4th test ... Australia looked good until the second half of the test match ... England was then the more attacking side and it was Broad that nailed home the winner ... But then it took a good defensive display in the Trent Bridge and a rain affected draw where Australia had the upper hand to even things out somewhat ... The reason some were saying 5-0 maybe was the Lords test ... But then Cook and co dismissed this notion with the knowledge that Australia, no matter what they have at their disposal will come back fighting ...

  • Applejack on August 16, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    If you remove the 3rd test the numbers are muchhigher in the list.

    32.77 batting 23.88 bowling 8.89 difference (27.12%)

    Theres two reason to remove it: 1) Australias first innings seems to be a freak innings, compared with the rest of the series - removing this test drops the Australian batting average by 5 runs, but barely changes Englands averages 2) the match was rained off, so prehaps the numbers are closer because this could/should be a 3-1 series, not a 3-0 one.

  • jmcilhinney on August 16, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    This series has gone pretty much the way I expected. There was always the chance of a rain-affected draw or two but, while the one dose of weather came at a bad time for Australia, it's been pretty good all up. Without rain, I didn't expect to see a draw because I didn't think that the two teams were good enough to bat 5 full days between them. Old Trafford may have been a draw without rain but it likely would have been a close run thing if so. England always looked the better team so always looked like winning most of the games. They didn't look so much better than Australia that the odd surprise was out of the question though. Australia's batting was poor at Trent Bridge and they were saved by tail-end runs. Those runs still count but you won't win many games relying on them. Lords was a big win. Australia were better at Old Trafford on the one occasion their batting worked. Durham was not close. It felt it but 9 wickets in a session is terrible.

  • simon_w on August 16, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    Australia were unlucky at Old Trafford -- it's hard to see anything but an Aus. win if that last day had been played out in its entirety. Apart from that, though, Australia have been lucky to have been as close as they have been. Without some very impressive tail-wagging, especially at Trent Bridge, they wouldn't have been anywhere near. Whenever the crunch moments have arrived, England have stepped up and won them comfortably.

  • Hammond on August 16, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Nice article, but the fact remains only 2 numbers actually matter in the end. 3 and 0.

  • on August 16, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    Let's look at what was written by an English fan from another perspective.

    First Test: Broad correctly given out, Australia pull off a very lucky win.

    Second Test: Root easily taken 174 runs short of his 180, England in trouble.

    Third Test: Rain stays away, Australia are a 50-50 shot to win.

    Fourth Test: At 140odd-1 middle order heavily odds-on to make 130 or so to win the game.

    All games could have turned out very differently at crucial points. England were nowhere near as dominant as they make out, especially a prospective World #1 and Greatest English Team of All Time(tm) versus The Worst Touring Team Ever(tm). England were the superior side but to be down 3-0 overstates the ease of victory.

  • ansram on August 16, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    The series should have been 3-1 but for the rain. Australia scored heavy in the drawn test and if you take that out there is indeed good difference between the sides. Moreover, Australian batting averages have been boosted copiously by the tailenders. England are clearly the superior side and Bell is the key difference between the sides.

  • 2MikeGattings on August 16, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    Didn't realise Clarke was struggling quite this badly against Broad. It really is notable.

  • on August 16, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    If you were to ignore the 230 runs scored for the last wicket by the Australians in the Trent Bridge, and just for sake of discussion consider it as 20 runs (which is what you would normally associate with tenth wicket stands) you can say England beat Australia by 240 runs in Trent Bridge. England comprehensively outplayed Australia at Lord's winning by about 300 runs. And in Durham, England won by 74 runs, which is a huge margin when you consider it was a low-scoring match. Going back to Trent Bridge, how can a team which scores 230 runs for the tenth wicket, lose the Test match ? And coming back to Durham, how can a team that had two century partnerships end up scoring less than 500 runs in the match ? Considering all these I would say England have had a more-than-convincing 3-0 victory over Australia.

  • PFEL on August 16, 2013, 3:43 GMT

    Funny game cricket. A few umpiring decisions and inclement weather can make a huge difference.

  • Rowayton on August 16, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    As an Aussie I'd like to take solace in these statistics, but the result's the result - you can't argue with it.

  • Rowayton on August 16, 2013, 3:04 GMT

    As an Aussie I'd like to take solace in these statistics, but the result's the result - you can't argue with it.

  • PFEL on August 16, 2013, 3:43 GMT

    Funny game cricket. A few umpiring decisions and inclement weather can make a huge difference.

  • on August 16, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    If you were to ignore the 230 runs scored for the last wicket by the Australians in the Trent Bridge, and just for sake of discussion consider it as 20 runs (which is what you would normally associate with tenth wicket stands) you can say England beat Australia by 240 runs in Trent Bridge. England comprehensively outplayed Australia at Lord's winning by about 300 runs. And in Durham, England won by 74 runs, which is a huge margin when you consider it was a low-scoring match. Going back to Trent Bridge, how can a team which scores 230 runs for the tenth wicket, lose the Test match ? And coming back to Durham, how can a team that had two century partnerships end up scoring less than 500 runs in the match ? Considering all these I would say England have had a more-than-convincing 3-0 victory over Australia.

  • 2MikeGattings on August 16, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    Didn't realise Clarke was struggling quite this badly against Broad. It really is notable.

  • ansram on August 16, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    The series should have been 3-1 but for the rain. Australia scored heavy in the drawn test and if you take that out there is indeed good difference between the sides. Moreover, Australian batting averages have been boosted copiously by the tailenders. England are clearly the superior side and Bell is the key difference between the sides.

  • on August 16, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    Let's look at what was written by an English fan from another perspective.

    First Test: Broad correctly given out, Australia pull off a very lucky win.

    Second Test: Root easily taken 174 runs short of his 180, England in trouble.

    Third Test: Rain stays away, Australia are a 50-50 shot to win.

    Fourth Test: At 140odd-1 middle order heavily odds-on to make 130 or so to win the game.

    All games could have turned out very differently at crucial points. England were nowhere near as dominant as they make out, especially a prospective World #1 and Greatest English Team of All Time(tm) versus The Worst Touring Team Ever(tm). England were the superior side but to be down 3-0 overstates the ease of victory.

  • Hammond on August 16, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Nice article, but the fact remains only 2 numbers actually matter in the end. 3 and 0.

  • simon_w on August 16, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    Australia were unlucky at Old Trafford -- it's hard to see anything but an Aus. win if that last day had been played out in its entirety. Apart from that, though, Australia have been lucky to have been as close as they have been. Without some very impressive tail-wagging, especially at Trent Bridge, they wouldn't have been anywhere near. Whenever the crunch moments have arrived, England have stepped up and won them comfortably.

  • jmcilhinney on August 16, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    This series has gone pretty much the way I expected. There was always the chance of a rain-affected draw or two but, while the one dose of weather came at a bad time for Australia, it's been pretty good all up. Without rain, I didn't expect to see a draw because I didn't think that the two teams were good enough to bat 5 full days between them. Old Trafford may have been a draw without rain but it likely would have been a close run thing if so. England always looked the better team so always looked like winning most of the games. They didn't look so much better than Australia that the odd surprise was out of the question though. Australia's batting was poor at Trent Bridge and they were saved by tail-end runs. Those runs still count but you won't win many games relying on them. Lords was a big win. Australia were better at Old Trafford on the one occasion their batting worked. Durham was not close. It felt it but 9 wickets in a session is terrible.

  • Applejack on August 16, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    If you remove the 3rd test the numbers are muchhigher in the list.

    32.77 batting 23.88 bowling 8.89 difference (27.12%)

    Theres two reason to remove it: 1) Australias first innings seems to be a freak innings, compared with the rest of the series - removing this test drops the Australian batting average by 5 runs, but barely changes Englands averages 2) the match was rained off, so prehaps the numbers are closer because this could/should be a 3-1 series, not a 3-0 one.