Australia wrapped up the Ashes Series at the Sydney Cricket Ground with a win, by an innings and 123. The 4-0 score line reflects the Aussies dominance at home.
For England, the series was lost before a ball was bowled. The ghost of Ben Stokes loomed over this series, and for England, it was all too much. The Ben Stokes incident in Bristol put the England team culture under the microscope. Johnny Bairstow became the subject of a headbutt allegation, and the tour quickly unravelled.
Australia has had the wood on England at home for some time now. The series win under Andrew Strauss aside, England simply hasn’t been able to compete in Australia for some time now. It was the same case again at the SCG.
England started the day in the worst possible fashion, with Captain Joe Root unable to bat, due to illness. The Australian quick bowlers quickly claimed the six wickets. Pat Cummins claimed four wickets to give him, eight for the match and man of the match honours.
Nathan Lyon dismissed Moen Ali for the seventh time in the series, giving him a series record. Lyon predicted before the series began that a few careers would be ended. Lyon was the key difference between the two sides. While Ali struggled, Lyon prospered, winning the key moments. Lyon set the tone for the series with his run-out of James Vince for 83 at the Gabba. Vince and England never recovered.
The Australian selectors were on the money with the picks of the Marsh brothers, Bancroft and Tim Paine. All four members of the Australian attack grabbed twenty wickets or more for the series. Cummins finished the series as the leading wicket-taker (23).
While Australians plans with the ball were perfectly executed, Steve Smith’s domination with the bat broke England’s spirit. Smith set the tone for the series with three centuries. The Australian captain led from the front and his top-order followed. Warner, Khawaja, and the Marsh brothers were all able to convert starts into match-winning knocks.
England’s Joe Root has a long way to go before he is considered in the same class as Smith or Virat Kohli. Root struggled all series to convert his starts into match-winning scores.
England now has to start asking the tough questions before the tour to New Zealand. Dawid Malan reminds the one bright spot for England with three fifties and a hundred in Perth. Johnny Bairstow was flawless behind the stumps and is a world-class middle order player. After his epic double century in Melbourne, Alistair Cook will be allowed to continue with his career.
Jimmy Anderson had his best tour of Australia with 17 wickets. His partner in crime, Stuart Broad looks well below his best. Vince, Stoneman failed to make any real impact with the bat.
While the Australian tour slips into one-day mode, the English selectors will be sitting down to decide a team for the NZ tour in March. The Blackcaps will fancy their chances of an upset series victory.
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
First Test Australia won by 10 wickets.
Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night).
Third Test Australia won by an innings and 41 runs.
Fourth Test Match drawn.
Fifth Test Australia win by an innings and 123 runs.