Australia may have retained the Ashes urn, but it was far from a perfect series and the selectors must look to make changes ahead of the Test summer.
What a Test, and what a performance. England have kept the Ashes alive after what could be the greatest individual performance of all time from Ben Stokes.
Set 359 for victory, England looked absolutely toast, but Stokes led the way with an unbeaten 135, backed up by Joe Root’s return to form and some other solid contributions from the lower order as the home side pulled off a famous victory to level the series at one-all.
England certainly aren’t out of the woods. They need continued improvement across the last two games, neither of which they can allow Australia to win if they want to reclaim the urn.
So, just how did the English players rate?
Rory Burns: 2/10
It’s amazing what happens when Rory Burns isn’t given multiple chances in each innings. He had a century earlier in the series and left the ball well, but has been well and truly undone by the short ball now, and Austalia will keep going back to it. Scores of nine and eight don’t cut it.
Jason Roy: 2
Roy’s days in Test cricket, at the top of the order at least, are numbered. A walking wicket every time he comes to the crease, and without an obvious option to move him down the order, England simply can’t afford to carry him into Manchester. He doesn’t look like scoring runs. It’s as simple as that.
Joe Root: 7
The pressure on Root heading into this Test was immense, and it wasn’t helped by his second consecutive duck in the first innings. He finally found some form during the second innings when England needed it most. The skipper made a strong 77, spending plenty of time at the crease and being patient with his batting. He got out playing a dumb shot to Nathan Lyon, but by then he had at least given England a fighting chance.
Joe Denly: 5
After top-scoring in the first innings with the worst-looking 12 you’re ever going to see, Denly’s role was critical in the second dig. On the ropes again after losing two early wickets, Denly’s half-century and 126-run partnership with Root couldn’t have come at a better time for the hosts. He is safe for Manchester, with England certainly having bigger issues than the Denly’s form.
Ben Stokes: 10
Is it possible to give a man an 11? If it was, this would be the match you’d award it, because Stokes did everything for England. Apart from his match-winning heroics with the bat, he bowled the entire final session of Day 2 to keep the hosts in the game and had a wicket in the first innings as well. England can thank Stokes for the series being alive.
Jonny Bairstow: 5
Bairstow came in during tough situations in both innings. While his first-innings dismissal was pretty ordinary, he toughed out a solid 36 in the second dig and hung around alongside Stokes to give England a chance.
Jos Buttler: 1
To be fair, he was burned by Stokes in the second innings, but it was a crucial part of the match and Buttler couldn’t afford to get out. Team that up with a pretty woeful first innings dismissal on five, and he was in the running for worst on ground.
Chris Woakes: 4
Woakes seems the most likely man to drop out of the team for the fourth Test in Manchester as James Anderson returns to the side. Not backed by Root’s captaincy, he only bowled 12 overs on Day 1 and ten out of 75 in Australia’s second innings. Looked threatening enough when he got it full, but didn’t do that consistently enough.
Jofra Archer: 8
King Jofra. Six wickets on a stunning first day of action, a seemingly hilarious cramp injury at the end of Day 2 and then another couple of wickets the following morning. He finished the match with eight wickets and was the pick of England’s bowlers, as well as adding 15 vital runs in the second innings.
Stuart Broad: 7
Broad might be disliked by Australian fans, but he has the new duke ball on a string in this series. He took two wickets in each innings, but it could have been more on Day 1 as he beat the bat about 700 times*. Dismissed David Warner again in the second innings and was unlucky not to do so in the first. Certainly played his part in England’s win.
*May not be an accurate figure.
Jack Leach: 6
While Jack Leach didn’t do much with the ball – and fair enough, it was a game for the pace bowlers – he did what was needed of him in the second innings. He was up the other end from Stokes, and surviving when put on strike, to make cricketing history in England’s massive run chase.