Three things we learned as Steve Smith-inspired Australia retain the urn after ending Ashes in stalemate
Despite bowing down to the individual genius of Steve Smith in the five-Test extravaganza, Joe Root-led England managed to stage an impressive comeback as the hosts lifted late to end Ashes in stalemate on Sunday. Giving closure to Australia's almost half a year stay on English soil, Root and Co. registered a comfortable triumph by 135 runs to claim the fifth and final Test at the Oval and ended the 5-match series level pegging.
For the first time since 1972, the age-old rivalry between arch-rivals England and Australia had nothing to choose from (only on paper) as Australia took home the famous Ashes urn back home. With England rescuing themselves late in the final Test and Steve Smith reaching the pinnacle in the longest format of the game, here's a look at what we have learned from the recently concluded Test series between England and Australia.
Test cricket is back in business
If the ICC Wold Cup 2019 had a fairytale ending for England with the unprecedented Super Over helping them bag their maiden World Cup title, the Ashes revived the red-ball cricket in the best way possible. The Ashes began as the curtain-raiser for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship - a tournament formed to bring back the stolen charm of Test cricket. With a blend of new rules and old rivalry, the Ashes turned out to be the flag bearer of the Test Championship as both sides took each other to the extremes. The Headingley Test stands as testimony that Test cricket is back to compete with shorter formats of the game.
It's Kohli vs Modern-day Bradman in Tests
It was on Sunday that Steve Smith registered his first below fifty-plus score in the five-Test series against England. Setting the standards straight, the former captain marked his return in red-ball cricket with a sublime century against Root's men. Smith, who was eyeing redemption after his infamous ball-tampering scandal made sure that his bat sounds crack louder noises than 'Sandpaper cheat' chants as the swashbuckling batsman singlehandedly led the charge for the visitors throughout the series.
Scoring 774 runs in just seven innings with an outstanding batting average of above 110, Smith with his Bradmanesque run of form decimated every English bowler who came in his way during the Ashes. The 30-year-old came close to breaking Sir Donald Bradman's record of 974 runs in a single Test series. The stylish right-handed batsman also eclipsed Inzamam-ul Haq's record by scoring his 10th consecutive fifty against England in Tests. On top of that, Smith outperformed Indian skipper Virat Kohli by dethroning him from the ICC No.1 Test batsman spot despite missing out on 12 months of cricketing action last year.
Pace bowling is alive and kicking
From Jofra Archer making a dream debut against a top side like Australia to Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood dismantling top order like child's play, pace bowling was at its level best during the entire course of Ashes. Thanks to the bowling exploits of the two Aussies, Australia now have two premier pacers in ICC top 10 Test rankings at the moment. Both Cummins and Hazlewood wreak havoc and bagged 49 wickets combined in the epic 5-match saga. While the duo were standout, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson also played small cameos in the Ashes. For England, Stuart Broad stepped up in the absence of injured James Anderson with 23 wickets.