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What we learnt from Australia retaining the Ashes

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Roar Rookie
27th September, 2019
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Last Monday, the Ashes ultimately ended in a draw after England claimed what was a comfortable 135-run victory at The Oval.

However, with Australia already sealing a drawn series in the previous Test and the retention of that precious urn, there are several things that we have learnt from this enthralling series.

Firstly, and most obviously, Steven Peter Devereux Smith is without a doubt the best player in the world right now, and possibly one of the greatest to ever play the game.

His return to cricket was seamless and his ability to turn what seemed like uncomfortable conditions and sticky situations into his own personal batting practice is something that we have all been privileged to witness.

Steve Smith.

Steve Smith celebrates his double century in Manchester. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Secondly, Marnus Labuschagne has proven himself to be a cricketer of great stature on the international scene and has locked himself into the Test number three position.

Labuschagne’s technique looks true and correct which has translated into an ability to make runs in English conditions, something that he had previously showed in his county campaign for Glamorgan.

He seems comfortable against the short ball, and if he can continue this form in more batsman-friendly Australian conditions, he will only enhance his test credibility.

Thirdly, and most worryingly, Australia must look to make changes to its opening partnership if they wish to continue to win in the Test match format.

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Dave Warner only enhanced the respect for Smith’s remarkable return to cricket after his own homecoming series ended in disaster with 95 runs at a dismal average of 9.5.

Cameron Bancroft, who played the first two tests, recorded just 44 runs at an average of 11, while his replacement Marcus Harris fared no better with 58 runs at an average of 10.

These are demoralising numbers that should shake the entire Australian committee and especially the selectors to their core, with the question rightly being raised as to whether they rushed to include Bancroft after the sandpaper scandal of 2018.

There is hope however, with Khawaja possessing the ability to open the batting if needed, as well as Joe Burns, with four 50s, four 100s and an average of 40 in Test cricket, and Mathew Renshaw with three 50s, one 100 and an average of 33.5, waiting in the ranks.

Usman Khawaja

Usman Khawaja. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP / Getty Images)

Lastly, Australia must look to newer and more exciting paceman to fill the team’s final bowling position, instead of persisting with players such as Siddle.

I understand that Peter Siddle has been a great player over time, but in the matches that he did play this Ashes, he looked second rate compared to the likes of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer.

It bewilders me as to why Siddle was picked over the fresh and rested Mitchell Starc in the final test match, who by all means didn’t bowl very well this series.

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If Cricket Australia are set on not playing Starc, then surely younger players such as Jhye Richardson, Chris Tremain and Michael Neser would be more effective, and more beneficial to the future team, in the same position.