On waking up this morning it was a relief to see that it was all over.
Five Tests, Five Thumpings, Five Limp Displays.
Australia were good. I’m not sure if they were better than we thought they were going to be because there were signs in the summer that they could form themselves into a competitive enough unit. As it was they were focussed, committed, and a country mile better than England. Mitchell Johnson eviscerated his previous Ashes demons and bowled accurately and fast. Brad Haddin proved immovable, whilst Steve Smith and Chris Rogers were the most impressive of the lot. I have a suspicion that even a Kallis-lite South Africa will be too much for them in their next series, but until the next Ashes – best of luck to them.
Our spinner gone. Our number three batsman gone. Our ‘attack leader’ looking as potent as a baked bean. No hundreds from any batsman bar a young all-rounder in his second Test, whose average of 34.87 in the series was not really good enough for a number 6 batsman yet at the same time by far and away the best thing we can take from the tour.
A year or two ago it was claimed that England had an almost boastful depth. Michael Vaughan famously said that we had the first (Swann, Broad, Anderson, Bresnan) and third (Tremlett, Monty, Onions, Finn) best bowling attacks in the world. Of those 8, only Broad and Onions are still bowling consistently near to their best.
Ashes smashes are often cleansing for the soul and for the team. Retirements after such beatings (and now also during) are not uncommon. The present is grotty, but the future is actually exciting. England no longer have a settled XI and that to me is exciting. Anyone who has a good start to 2014 would be in with a great chance of playing against Sri Lanka and India next summer. Nick Compton, James Taylor, Ravi Bopara, your time is now.