Duel between Jofra Archer and Matthew Wade typified riveting Ashes series which had the right result
The duel between Matthew Wade and Jofra Archer at the Oval typified a fantastically watchable series that has been great for cricket.
I thought 2-2 was a fair scoreline, as neither side had enough periods of sustained pressure to win the series outright. They were two similar teams with some supremely talented bowlers and fragile batting line-ups that were carried by one or two individuals.
The battle between Wade and Archer had echoes of that between Mike Atherton and Allan Donald in 1998. I am pleased the umpires did not step in as Test cricket is about nobody taking a backward step.
England bowler Jofra Archer stares at adversary Matthew Wade during a tense battle
Wade is like a nippy little dog who keeps yapping away, and while he talked the talk he was not afraid to walk the walk. When he went out to bat they pounced on him but he is a streetfighter, one of those guys who when you play against him you hate, but you’d also love to have in your side.
Archer played it perfectly as well. We do not want to make our cricketers robotic and this encounter summed up what Ashes cricket is all about. In fact I have to applaud all the players who will have been tired at the end of a long summer for the shift they put in amid a ridiculous schedule.
There have been so many good things about this summer for England and at the end of it they have won a World Cup and drawn an Ashes series. Would they have taken that at the start? Of course they would. People knock the game sometimes but have a look at the last few months. Nearly every ground has been sold out and the atmospheres have been phenomenal.
England would have taken a World Cup and a drawn Ashes series at the start of the summer
Here at the Oval, Australia made errors galore — the toss, their selection, dropped catches, reviews. They opened the door for England and Joe Root’s side were good enough to take advantage.
England are looking for a successor to Trevor Bayliss. I would like to see the focus lean towards a red ball batting technician. I was fortunate to work with Duncan Fletcher, someone with great technical know-how, who could not just spot a weakness but could do something about it. Trevor has done a magnificent job overall, but when someone like Root struggles with his movement, for example, they need someone who can come up with a solution.
Archer has been a blessing but Stuart Broad and James Anderson are not going to go on forever and so I am hoping England really do some long-term thinking. They are going to need some fast bowlers to win back the Ashes.
England must nurture the next generation of fast bowlers in order to regain the Ashes
They must learn from the mistake last time when they went with a one-dimensional medium fast attack, which however Joe shuffled it had the same outcome. They were toothless, so they need to look after Archer and Mark Wood and bring on the likes of Olly Stone and Saqib Mahmood. We need a crop of fast bowlers — look at the impact Archer has had on this series. For one game he didn’t bowl 90mph and people were on his back but he is of such value that people have to be patient.
Clearly for Australia Steve Smith was exceptional but I would also salute Tim Paine. He made some mistakes but look at the hospital pass he was given at a time when he had nearly been out of the game. He has turned it round, coming back here and retaining the Ashes. He has changed the culture of this Australian team.
Seeing the way the outstanding Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins have gone at England and their body language, it is how Australia played under Allan Border and Mark Taylor. He has taken them back in a good way. Well done to them and well done to both teams for producing a brilliant summer of cricket.