Another exciting Sunday of Test cricket, sadly not on terrestrial television, but unfortunately England came up short.
Now the Aussies have retained the urn, until at least the winter of 2021/2022.
By way of consolation England still have one final chance to level the series at the Oval, starting today, although many were surprised by the selectors’ decision to go with the same squad for the fifth Test despite defeat at Old Trafford.
How will history view the cricket events of this summer?
Obviously England’s thrilling victory against New Zealand to become one-day world champions will live long in the memory, as will the amazing Test victory at Headingley, with Ben Stokes producing one of the greatest innings in the history of English Test cricket.
So why did England fail to win a home Ashes series for the first time since 2001?
Clearly the quest to be the best one-day side in the world is a huge factor, as previously stated in this column, it was always going to be a big ask both mentally and physically for many of our top players.
Also the poor form from a number of the World Cup heroes in the Test series is testament to this.
The added fact of 671 being more than just a number, but a huge factor in the Aussies’ win.
That’s the total runs, to date, scored by Steve Smith across just three matches in this series. He missed the Leeds Test due to concussion. In the three games Smith has played the total Australian runs scored is 1,858, which not only highlights his contribution to his team, but clearly also asks the question where would they be without him?
Despite England’s obvious shortfalls, an Aussie side this summer without Smith would surely have seen an excellent opportunity for the Ashes to return to this country.
But that’s a supposition, he came, he played, he conquered and many now are not only lauding him as the best player currently on the planet, but also comparing him to the Australian legend Sir Donald Bradman.
I’ve no doubt Smith is currently the best cricketer in the world, but he’s not fit to lace Bradman’s boots.
Whatever he has achieved this summer and what he goes on to do for the rest of his career, there is a huge shadow in the form of a piece of sandpaper.
Smith is a great cricketer, but he is also a convicted cheat, he was caught, along with two other team-mates, and rightly banned.
Was the ban long enough? Many, including in his own country, said no.
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