The Investec Ashes 2013

Bell, Swann and Harris take the honours

Stats highlights from the five-Test series, which England won 3-0 despite their overall numbers being pretty similar to Australia's

S Rajesh

August 27, 2013

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Ryan Harris removed Joe Root, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
Ryan Harris was the stand-out fast bowler from either side, taking plenty of top-order wickets, and dominating Joe Root and Jonathan Trott © PA Photos
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If the overall numbers from five Tests were to be shown to someone who had slept through the last six weeks, he would probably give the series to England by a one-match margin: after all, England's average runs per wicket was about three runs more than Australia's. That would, in a normal series, indicate a close contest, but this series has been quite a bizarre one, and the contrast between the result - 3-0 to England - and the numbers is a good indicator of that. England scored 121 more runs, and one century, more than Australia, and took four more wickets. Australia's bowlers were more economical, but England won all the key moments in the series.

In many ways, Ian Bell was the difference between the two teams - his 562 runs at 62.44 was streets ahead of anyone else. He was the only batsman from either team to average more than 50; in fact, no other England batsman who played more than a Test averaged even 40 - Kevin Pietersen's 38.80 was the second-best. (Click here for England's batting and bowling averages.) Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, two of the mainstays of England's top order, had a series to forget: together they aggregated 570 runs in 20 innings at an average of 28.50. England's bowling was largely a three-man act, with Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Stuart Broad taking 79% of the total wickets, though Tim Bresnan made vital contributions too.

Australia's heroes were their fast bowlers. Ryan Harris, the pick of the lot, Peter Siddle and, to a lesser extent, Mitchell Starc were relentlessly accurate: each went at less than three runs per over, and offered very few freebies to England's batsmen. Harris deserved his 24 wickets; his average of 19.58 was the 36th instance of a bowler taking 20-plus wickets in an Ashes series at a sub-20 average, and the first such instance since Stuart Clark's 26 wickets at 17.03 in the 2006-07 series in Australia. The batsmen started the series poorly, but picked up as it went along and in the end finished with almost as many 50-plus scores as England's batsmen. Their top seven averaged 32.49, to England's 35.78, and made 15 fifty-plus scores to England's 17.

Series stats for England and Australia
Team W/L Runs scored Bat ave 100s/ 50s Wkts taken Econ rate
England 3/ 0 2856 33.60 5/ 13 89 3.37
Australia 0/ 3 2735 30.73 4/ 13 85 2.99

Though England won the series, their top-order performance was a concern throughout. The average partnership for the top two wickets was lower than 30, with no century partnerships for either wicket.

What saved England, though, was that each of the top five partnerships was progressively more productive than the previous one, in terms of average stand: the third one was in the mid-30s, the fourth almost 50, and the fifth 73.88. The top two partnerships were both for the fifth wicket, as Bell added 153 with Joe Root and 144 with Jonny Bairstow, both at Lord's. The fourth highest was also for the fifth wicket - 115 between Bell and Pietersen at Old Trafford. In fact, Bell was involved in six of the seven highest partnerships for England in the series.

Australia were fairly solid at the start with their opening partnerships, thanks to Rogers, but they struggled with their second and third wickets, averaging less than 30 for each. Australia's most productive partnership was for the fourth wicket, where they had a stand of 214 (Michael Clarke and Steven Smith at old Trafford), 145 (Smith and Shane Watson at The Oval) and 98 (Clarke and Usman Khawaja at Lord's). The second-highest average partnership for them, though, was for the tenth wicket, which is a damning indictment of their top-order performances. Australia's aggregate of 321 runs for the tenth wicket is the third highest for any team in a Test series (Australia are the only team to have aggregated over 300 runs for the last wicket in a series). Of those 321 runs, 228 were scored in the first Test, at Trent Bridge.

Partnership stats for England and Australia
  England Australia
Wicket Runs Average 100/ 50 stands Runs Average 100/ 50 stands
1st 266 26.60 0/ 1 434 43.40 1/ 2
2nd 288 28.80 0/ 4 255 25.50 1/ 1
3rd 355 35.50 1/ 2 185 18.50 0/ 0
4th 444 49.33 1/ 2 595 59.50 2/ 1
5th 665 73.88 3/ 3 302 30.20 1/ 1
6th 257 32.12 0/ 2 185 18.50 0/ 2
7th 208 26.00 1/ 0 164 18.22 0/ 0
8th 156 22.28 0/ 1 171 24.42 0/ 1
9th 106 15.14 0/ 0 123 17.57 0/ 0
10th 111 15.85 0/ 0 321 53.50 1/ 1

The most even contest in the series was between the fast bowlers of both teams. Australia's pace bowlers took 11 more wickets and averaged marginally better. Harris, Siddle and Starc were the lead acts, while James Faulkner picked up six wickets in the only Test he played. For England, Broad shone in the fourth Test and also picked up wickets at The Oval after a disappointing start to the series, while Anderson also took 22 wickets. England's spin, though, was far more potent than Australia's.

Pace bowlers and spinners for England and Australia
  Wickets Average Strike rate Econ rate 5WI/ 10WM
Eng-pace 58 30.89 55.7 3.32 4/ 2
Aus-pace 69 30.04 62.5 2.88 0/ 3
Eng-spin 29 29.03 56.4 3.08 2/ 0
Aus-spin 15 44.20 94.4 2.80 0/ 0

The head-to-head battles

Five Tests between two teams meant there was plenty of opportunity for a bowler to dominate a batsman, or vice-versa. There were a couple of batsmen who fell to a bowler six times in the series - one of them was Rogers against Swann. Rogers was outstanding against England's pace attack, averaging 94 against them, but Swann completely dominated him, dismissing Rogers six times at a cost of just 79 runs.

The other bowler to dismiss a batsman six times was Anderson, but his victim was Siddle, a tailender, who scored only 24 runs against him. Anderson's mastery over Siddle was illustrative of his hold on Australia's lower order: of the 22 wickets he took, 12 were of the lower-order batsmen. Against the top order, Broad was more effective: 15 of his 22 wickets were of Australia's specialist batsmen or Brad Haddin. His mastery of Clarke was one of the bowling highlights of the series: Broad dismissed him five times at a cost of 84 runs, for an average of 16.80. Bresnan played only three Tests but had the measure of Watson in those games, nailing him five times (which was also 50% of the total wickets Bresnan took in the series). Not surprisingly, Watson's highest score of the series - 176 at The Oval - came when Bresnan wasn't in the bowling attack. On the other hand, Watson was dominant against Anderson, averaging 136 against him and scoring at the rate of more than four per over.

Swann was the highest wicket-taker from either team in the series, and he relished the opportunity to bowl at so many left-handers: against them, he averaged 18.18, taking 16 wickets; against right-handers, his average fell to 46.40.

Australia's stand-out bowler was Harris, not only because of the number of wickets he took but because of the quality of his wickets as well. Of his 24 wickets, only six were of the lower-order batsmen. (His 18 top-order wickets include those of Matt Prior and Chris Woakes, who batted at No. 6 at The Oval.) Harris was at his best against Root and Trott, dismissing them four times each for very little. Cook didn't have much success against him either, while even Bell scored only 56 runs off him in 158 balls and was dismissed twice.

Siddle had Pietersen's number, getting his wicket three times for 64, but he didn't have much success against Bell, dismissing him only once at the cost of 117 runs.

Head-to-head stats in the Ashes
Batsman Bowler Runs Balls Dismissals Average Run rate
Chris Rogers Graeme Swann 79 230 6 13.16 2.06
Chris Rogers Pace bowlers 282 581 3 94.00 2.91
Michael Clarke Stuart Broad 84 161 5 16.80 3.13
Shane Watson Tim Bresnan 49 94 5 9.80 3.12
Shane Watson James Anderson 136 195 1 136.00 4.18
Left-handers Graeme Swann 291 685 16 18.18 2.54
Right-handers Graeme Swann 464 809 10 46.40 3.44
Joe Root Ryan Harris 38 141 4 9.50 1.61
Jonathan Trott Ryan Harris 48 82 4 12.00 3.51
Jonathan Trott Mitchell Starc 38 71 3 12.67 3.21
Alastair Cook Ryan Harris 71 168 3 23.67 2.53
Ian Bell Ryan Harris 56 158 2 28.00 2.12
Ian Bell Peter Siddle 117 239 1 117.00 2.93
Kevin Pietersen Peter Siddle 64 134 3 21.33 2.86
Matt Prior Peter Siddle 38 94 4 9.50 2.42

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

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Posted by Paul.Power on (August 28, 2013, 11:30 GMT)

The most damning stat for Australia is that, although they made the only two 400+ scores of the series, they made no other scores over 300. Meanwhile, England passed 300 six times, at least once per Test, even if they never made it past 400. Much like Cardiff in 2009, Australia's batsmen saved their best scores for the draws.

Also reminiscent of 2009 is the way that the England attack picked up more five-wicket hauls despite both sides' bowlers having a good series.

Interesting to see that England's seamers had a better strike rate than Australia's, though I suppose that mostly comes down to the philosophies of the two batting line-ups (but then, so does economy rate).

Posted by Mitty2 on (August 28, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

@raj3006, Swann's 10 wicket haul at Lord's was the most undeserving ten wicket haul in my recent memory. More than 50% of his wickets was from batsman's entire fault, not wicket-taking deliveries. Anderson's 10 wicket haul was great and under a crucial time, and was inspiring, but then again, I think 6 of those wickets were against the tail. The biggest difference in the two teams wasn't that, it was Bell, who put in one of the greatest Ashes series from a batsman. Coming in at 3-30 on many occasions, he saved England's hide on every one of his centuries. With us bowling economically and with pressure, along with the pressure of the situation, Bell was incredible. To top it off, he comfortably outscored every batsman by a mile.

Agree @praspunter, we're becoming the whinging poms! But in this case you do need to take what positives you can - we're rebuilding!

@Chris Dayton what ultimately matters is which team scores more/takes the most wickets - if they do, they deserve to win.

Posted by Mitty2 on (August 28, 2013, 9:37 GMT)

Also think the 4-1 in declarations our way is pretty damning, (if the weather hadn't been that way it would be us leading in runs scored) - the weather's conspiring against us! But it does kind of illustrate the positives of our attacking gameplay, we have the core and potential to put good teams under serious pressure. But as seen at Adelaide and this whole series, we just can't out those good teams away. Think the Patto loss is crucial as well, he was evidently struggling and had a niggle all throughout - since when does he ball at 130km/h!? - but he is an enforcer and would've helped the team take 20 wickets - which is something we've recently struggled to do. Bird was also bowling far below pace - his minimum against SL was 135km/h and after watching him in the Shield a few times he's more fluent than what he was - and his back injury in India looked to be hampering. We should've got one of Sayers or Copeland in.

Posted by Mitty2 on (August 28, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

Based on these stats we've exceeded far above the pre-series expectations. I'm not actually that disappointed (albeit scarred from Lord's and that Durham collapse). We were in winning situations/potential for doing so in all tests barring Lord's. Just got to get that experience, belief, and knowhow how to not collapse and take the key moments. I'd say we've won more sessions, and more days, but our bad days have been far more catastrophic - which is an indictment on our batting but also credit must be given to Eng. Yes they played under par, but wouldn't you say we did too? So that can't be an excuse. We put them under immense pressure at stages - they didn't fold because of Bell. When they put an inkling of pressure on us - Durham and Lord's happen. Eng's performance has also shown that it it sometimes necessary to play conservative cricket - and we need to take the lesson to be more defensive (should've one for the draw in Mohali, been more tentative in run chases, etc)

Posted by raj3006 on (August 28, 2013, 6:51 GMT)

When the match was even, Bell produced 3 centuries that too in 2nd innings and KP made century when all was over. In 1st four matches Eng has a centurion & in last match there was rain to save Eng. Eng has 2 10-wkt hauls and more 5-wkt hauls than Australia is the reason for the scoreline of 3-0

Posted by BobFleming on (August 28, 2013, 2:38 GMT)

The stat that everyone keeps missing is the number of big hauls from the bowlers... England took 6 5-fors including a couple of 10 wicket matches, whilst Australia took just 3 5-fors. Bowlers win matches; and in 6 of the 10 innings England bowled, someone stuck their hand up... That's how series are won.

Posted by   on (August 27, 2013, 23:41 GMT)

The stats are a little bit skewed by Australia's 10th wicket partnerships from the first test, which have done a lot to mask the failure of their specialist batsmen. Australian batting collapsed dramatically in each of the 3 tests that they lost, and a team that loses 9 wickets in the space of 2-3 hours does not deserve to win the match, however close it may have been at various points. Whether Australia deserved to lose 3-0 or 3-1 or 3-2 can be debated, but they definitely deserved to lose the 3 tests that they did.

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (August 27, 2013, 22:25 GMT)

Two comments:

1) It was nearly 4:0 and would have been if Clarke hadn't got in the umpires' faces on the last day. I thought he'd declared 20 runs too soon when I saw the target, and it very nearly proved to be so.

2) Any team declaring their first innings closed when scoring as freely as Australia were in their first innings at Old Trafford, in the face of a weather forecast such as the one given, with that much experience in English conditions, doesn't deserve to win.

Should have been 2:1 to England. It wasn't, and Australia have only themselves to blame for that. They are capable of more.

Posted by PrasPunter on (August 27, 2013, 13:27 GMT)

Unfortunately what matters is the little scoreline - 3-0 for England. Case closed !!

Posted by   on (August 27, 2013, 13:14 GMT)

I am not a perticular Australian fan. Although the score line gives England a 3-0 win & they were definitely a better side; it is not as if Australia were steamrolled by England. Barring Lords heavy loss, Australia were close to winning atleast 3 tests. Alas, their batting did not support some good bowling efforts.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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