I HAVE to confess I’m more than a little bit jealous – what a fantastic time to be an England cricketer. The Ashes triumph was the greatest series win for as long as I can remember and nobody can ever deny that it was thoroughly deserved.
The decisive moment was when England won the toss for the fourth Test in Melbourne, bowled first and blew Australia away. Having just lost the third Test, the series was in the balance and doubts could have been creeping in, but England were sensational.
Another key factor was the strength in depth, epitomised by the performances of Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan, when called upon to stand in for Stuart Broad and Steven Finn. That was manna from heaven and a sure sign that things were going England’s way.
The Aussies, on the other hand, will be very disappointed. They paid the price for lacking a good spinner and, with all due respect to Michael Beer, playing a guy with so little first class experience showed they were scraping the barrel.
Three wins from the last four series shows we’re now in an era of English dominance – and it feels great.
HOW THEY RATED ENGLAND
England’s captain led from the front, showing his customary cool head. Some of his calls were brave – like resting Steven Finn – but they were spot on, and of course he chipped in with a useful ton. Not many skippers have won home and away Ashes series; Strauss is now just adding feathers to his cap.
Trott plundered 445 runs over the series – second only to Cook – and was one of several players to nail down his place in the side during the Ashes. On the few occasions England did find themselves under pressure, he was the perfect man to steady an innings. The solid No3 batsman that this team has needed.
KP came into the series with a few doubters on his back but shook them off with that double century as England won the second Test in Adelaide. He might wonder whether he could have scored more runs over the whole series but, after a tricky spell, showed encouraging signs that he is getting back to his best.
He bowed out of Test action in the greatest setting imaginable, and has been a fine servant. Will certainly be disappointed to have scored so few runs but took some great catches, notably from Ponting in the third Test. Colly’s experience also makes him a real asset in the dressing room.
Bell has had his critics over the years but really looked the part in this series and was one of six England players to get tons. Like Trott, he looked strong and dominant when they did find themselves in any trouble. A truly great Ashes for the Warwickshire batsman.
You know a wicketkeeper has had a good series when nobody is talking about them much, and that’s been the case with Prior. He did his job well and also reminded everyone how useful he can be with the bat; he was another to enjoy a century and finished with an average of 50.4.
Plenty had questioned Bresnan’s pedigree before the Ashes, asking whether he had enough pace. No-one doubts his quality now, though, because he did everything that could possibly have been expected of him. An absolutely brilliant replacement for Steven Finn.
Swann didn’t hog the headlines as much as expected but he did what he had to do and got his five-fer in Adelaide. The spinner always kept the pressure on, and the Aussies’ fear of him meant they took their eyes off the other bowlers a little, allowing them to prosper.
He was one of the players who Australia might have identified as a weak link but ended the series as probably England’s best bowler. Tremlett seemed utterly at home and became a go-to man when a wicket was needed. Scooped a five-wicket haul and looked a million dollars.
It’s incredible that Finn was rested when he was England’s top wicket-taker – if that had happened to me there’d have been punches flying! He was unlucky and it was a brave call but it paid off. It was a first massive tour for the 21-year-old but he could hardly have looked more at home.
His series was cruelly cut short by injury after just two matches and was unlucky in that he bowled on the only real flat pitch. Having said that, he did nothing wrong and, like every single player to a man, played his part in a victorious series that won’t be forgotten.
The bowler of the series, Anderson was immense. Once again Australia tried to put him under pressure and thought he was weak – and he replied with 24 wickets. Got early scalps, keeping the Aussies under pressure, and got them when most needed too.
England’s coach did a great job of keeping the players focused on the big picture, never getting too down when things didn’t go well or too giddy when they improved. Flower is a great calming influence and the success of this series is testament to him and his excellent understanding with Andrew Strauss.
He went into the first Test fighting for his place and perceived as a weakness in the side; he finished the series with the second highest tally by an English batsman of all time (second only to Wally Hammond), having spent more than 36 hours at the crease. It doesn’t get much better than that. Put simply, Cook was brilliant.
Phil Tufnell is part of Paragon Sports Management. For all your hospitality and event requirements please contact Paragon on 020 83328640 or visit www.paragonhospitality.co.uk