England regain Ashes after Aussie bashing at Trent Bridge
As expected after the incredible first two days at Trent Bridge, England have won the fourth and penultimate Ashes Test to lead 3-1 and thus regained the famous little urn.
In doing so, they have now claimed five of the last seven series’ (since 2005) and their fourth in succession on home turf, to complete a decade of dominance against Australia.
Now, Alastair Cook and co have the chance to win four matches for the first time in a five-Test Ashes since 1932–33 Down Under, and they are the 11/8 favourites with Coral to do so at the Oval.
This series, prior to Trent Bridge, had been a battle of thrashings by both teams. But England’s see-saw swing of matches, that had lasted seven Tests this summer against the West Indies and New Zealand too, finally came to a halt.
In fact, their win by an innings and 78 runs against Australia in Nottingham was the biggest of them all and, as a result, the hosts’ performances have lead to Baggy Greens captain Michael Clarke announcing his international retirement after the series.
The fourth Test certainly started with a dramatic bang, as the Aussies were bowled out for just 60 in 18.3 overs before lunch, which was their worst Ashes innings total since 1936. Extras, meanwhile, was their top scorer with 14.
Stauart Broad was the hero on the first day for the hosts, taking astonishing figures of 8-15, which judging by his facial expressions even he could not believe.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 7, 2015
It was certainly a bowling pitch, as Cook’s decision to put the tourists into bat first confirmed, but England then made a mockery of Australia’s score by recording 391-9d in reply. In-form Yorkshire duo Joe Root (130) and Jonny Bairstow (74) were the standout batsmen.
There was even one point when it was highly possible the match could have been over by the end of the second day, as Cook showed positive captaincy judgement by declaring and putting the Aussies into the slaughter again.
Australia did give England players and fans some worry at first, though, as openers Chris Rogers (52) and David Warner (64) both managed 50s to start far more positively and in stark contrast to their first innings.
But Ben Stokes was the bowling hero this time, as he skittled through the order to eventually take 6-36, with Durham teammate Mark Wood ably assisting him with figures of 3-69. Only Adam Voges (51 not out) could provide any resistance after the openers as he managed to pass 50 just before the close.
England certainly answered their doubters and critics perfectly by this triumph, and even managed without their record Test wicket-taker James Anderson for Trent Bridge. Perhaps even the Kevin Pietersen fan club will now be silenced.
Cook and his former opening partner and now national director Andrew Strauss came under a lot of pressure before the series, but the latter’s decision to appoint Trevor Bayliss as Peter Moores’ successor has now been proved to be a masterstroke.
England are certainly playing with a lot more freedom and confidence. Let’s hope that success and more consistency can continue for many years, and that this victory against a very poor Australia is not just false hope.
There is no doubting that England have some of the best rising stars in the game such as now-world number one Test batsman Root, Stokes, Jos Buttler (all 24), Wood, Bairstow (both 25) and Steven Finn (26). Others such as under-fire Yorkshire pair Gary Ballance (25) and Adam Lyth (27) also clearly have talent.
Skipper Cook, meanwhile, is still relatively young at 30, especially for someone who is England’s top Test century maker and run scorer, and Broad (29) can carry on for a fair few more years too.
Veterans such as Anderson and Bell (both 33) can still do a job at international level, but perhaps their careers are now on the decline, particularly the latter, and the selectors will need to find replacements for them.
All in all, England’s future is bright; and now for the final Test at the Oval, where the hosts can aim for history once more.