The conclusion of the Ashes with a two-all result should leave the Australian team, administrators and supporters with a sour taste not dissimilar to that following the 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2015 series.
Lord’s hosted more rain than anyone would have liked, but a draw might have been the fair result from the second Ashes Test. England now find themselves down one-nothing in the series and with the weight of the world on their shoulders.
While both sides were behind in the match at various points, we may have seen a series-defining moment when Jofra Archer clocked Steve Smith in the neck with a scary bouncer, the tearaway announcing himself to Test cricket with firey spell after firey spell.
England would feel irritated that they didn’t win the match, but just like the first Test, they didn’t have enough big contributions, and the form of their skipper is a worry.
Rory Burns: 6/10
I can’t work out how Rory Burns gets his runs. He is, however, an old-fashioned Test opener – there’s nothing flashy about him, and he is happy to wear a few on the body and build his innings very slowly.
Burns tends to score a lot of runs off his lengths, and while Australia didn’t bowl all that well to him, scores of 53 with wickets falling around him in the first innings and 29 in the second are passable in a low-scoring Test.
Jason Roy: 1
Even a score of one might be high for Roy, who is really struggling to adapt to Test cricket. He might be one of the best ODI openers in the world, but he returned scores of zero and two in this second Test, looking all at sea against Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Roy is struggling with his technique, and appears to be in two minds about whether to get on the front foot and attack or build into his innings. He now has four abject failures to get his Ashes campaign going.
Joe Root: 3
A tough Test for Root, with a first-ball duck in the second innings and just 14 runs in the first, where he looked a little bit out of sorts.
Australia did bowl exceptionally well during the first half of Day 1, but the debate about whether Root should be at three or four is going to intensify unless the skipper can get a big score to silence the doubters in the third Test.
The balls that got him out were good, but as the number three, and the most important player in the side, he can’t afford to have failures in both digs.
Joe Denly: 5
Denly isn’t the most classy batsman going around, but he did score some important runs this match. While the raw numbers of 30 and 26 won’t make anyone sit up and take notice, he stopped a rot at 2 for 9 in the second innings and batted well with Burns from 2 for 26 in the first.
England’s top order is a major talking point out of the match, and while Denly needs more runs, it was a passable performance.
Ben Stokes: 8
At stumps on Day 4, England had slumped from a position of power to one where they could have easily lost the match if not for some good lower-order partnerships.
Falling 2-0 down in the series would have been almost unrecoverable for the English, so an unbeaten century from Ben Stokes after coming in at 3 for 64 was a monumental effort. Combined with economical bowling in the first innings, he was certainly among the main contenders for man of the match.
Jos Buttler: 5
Buttler could have done more. The timing of his dismissal in the first innings for just 12 was a stinker, and he never really looked like he was going to get going in the second.
In saying that, he toughed it out and hung at the crease with Stokes to ensure England forced themselves into an un-loseable position. 31 from 108 isn’t trademark Buttler, but it was what was required.
Jonny Bairstow: 6
Bairstow’s 52 in the first innings was one of his more important Test innings, given he came in with England in trouble after losing regular wickets. His half-century, and the way he batted with the tail until he was the last man out, was excellent, as was his sharp 30 from 37 balls in the second innings. Also had four catches behind the pegs.
Chris Woakes – 7
For some odd reason, Woakes only bowled three overs in Australia’s second dig. England needed to try everything, and leaving Woakes in the outfield wasn’t the right call. He took three wickets in the first innings, and more importantly, scored 32 vital runs, coming in at 6 for 138. He was involved in a 72-run partnership when England could have simply rolled over and lost their way.
Jofra Archer: 8
While Stokes was given man of the match for his second innings century under all sorts of pressure, Archer must have been second in the running.
The Barbados-born quick made a stunning start to his Test career, and gave England’s attack the point of difference they so badly needed after struggling their way through the first Test.
He finished with five wickets for the match, but it’s his fiery Day 3 spell, when he sconed Steve Smith and hit him a couple of other times, that will be remembered by everyone who saw it.
It was Test cricket at its best, and Archer now will be a permanent fixture in this English side for the rest of the series.
Jack Leach – 7
This was a high-stakes game for Leach, and he did a strong job. Coming in for Moeen Ali, he was economical in the first innings, and then took three wickets on the final day as England searched for victory.
More important, he out-bowled Nathan Lyon, which was always going to be a big part in deciding the match. While England didn’t leave themselves enough time to get the win, Leach may well have bowled them to a one-all series scoreline had there been less rain.
Stuart Broad: 7
Broad had the new ball on a string at the back-end of Day 2 and was rewarded with the wicket of David Warner for the third time.
While he wouldn’t get rid of Warner in the second innings, Broad has now silenced one of Australia’s most dangerous players, and he also took another three wickets in the first innings.
Broad wasn’t as effective in the second dig, but still a good Test for the veteran.