Ashes 2019: 7 biggest fall-outs from the memorable series
So, finally, the latest version of the most high-profile Test series in cricket is over. England have managed to avoid an embarrassing home series defeat at the hands of their oldest rivals but failed to regain the prized urn for which they played.
The 2-2 scoreline is actually a little bit flattering towards the English team as it was only the brilliance of Ben Stokes that prevented them from losing the third Test at Headingley. But such things are not reflected in the final score. Hence, this series would be remembered as a closely-fought contest which ended up on level terms between the two teams.
Now that this contest is over, we can look back at it with the benefit of hindsight. What were the biggest lessons that we learnt from this series? What will be the biggest repercussions of this 5-match rubber? Let's take a look at them.
Opening conundrum solved for England?
Ever since Andrew Strauss retired from cricket in 2012, England have been searching for a replacement for him. With the retirement of Alastair Cook last year, the Three Lions were left with two vacant positions at the top with no clear claimant. The problem was still there when this series started. But by its end, it seems to have been solved.
Rory Burns showed promise in the series against Sri Lanka last year and against West Indies earlier in 2019. In this series, he converted it into solid performances to cement his place in the team. At the other end, the experiment with Jason Roy failed but Joe Denly has come away with flying colours. So, it seems England have finally identified the opening pair they need in Tests.
Smith is back
Any doubts that were there regarding the ability of Steve Smith to regain his old form have been put to rest in the most emphatic manner. Not only did he seem to take off from where he left the previous Ashes series, it seems that the one-year ban on him has made him even hungrier and more focused. If he can sustain this form and scoring streak, which he has done for the last few years, sky is the limit for him.
Australia have serious batting issues
The series ended in a 2-2 draw. Take out Steve Smith from the Australian side and it could well have been 4-0 or even 5-0 in England's favour. What that shows is the fragility of the Australian batting line-up.
The middle-order is looking very ordinary and the likes of Travis Head and Usman Khawaja haven't lived up to the expectations. This problem needs to be solved, otherwise, the Baggy Greens would be prone to many defeats in the future.
Opening woes for Aussies
While England may have discovered two good openers in this series, their opponents are seriously struggling in that department. Both the opening pairs Australia tried in this series failed miserably in the five matches. While there may still be hope that David Warner could rediscover his form in Australia when he doesn't have a hostile crowd and the moving ball, there is no clear hope at the other end.
Both Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris failed horribly to make a mark in this series. This leaves the Aussie selectors with a big problem. Whom should they trust going forward? Should they look for a new occupant of the opener's slot? These problems will cause serious headache in the coming days for Australian team management.
England have finally found bowling X-factor
For the longest time, the Poms have been looking for an out-and-out pacer who could provide an extra dimension to their bowling which has seemed too one-flavoured. In Jofra Archer, their search has ended. He provides that extra pace and hostility that would make the team more potent in conditions which are not swing and seam-friendly. Archer would make a big impact on English cricket in coming days.
Stokes is the new Botham
Since he retired from international cricket, English cricket teams have been constantly searching for his legatee. For a few years, it seemed Andrew Flintoff could be that man but his period of success was too limited for him to be considered in the same league as Beefy.
But Ben Stokes has almost booked himself a seat in the same rare class as the legendary Sir Ian. His double century in South Africa in 2016 was considered the highest peak he would reach in his career. But this summer, the New Zealand-born all-rounder went into another level of greatness. His innings at Headingley has forever cemented his place in English cricket lore.
Root needs a reboot
While he may have ended the summer on a winning note, England's Test captain Joe Root has some serious issues to deal with. His batting just hasn't lived up to the expectations he generated and the lack of big scores from him is now a serious issue. Perhaps, taking the load of captaincy off his shoulders would free him and let him become the batsman he is capable of turning into. This issue would be seriously considered by England's team management.