THE Ashes urn has been handed over, our cricket nation is in (slight) disgrace.
Now it’s time to restore some pride in the short form of the game.
The Australians did manage to salvage something out of the forsaken Ashes series, taking out the dead rubber fifth Test by an innings and 46 runs after a dominant performance with bat and ball.
It all started on day one, when the top three of the retiring Chris Rogers – a solid 43 in his final Test – Dave Warner – a composed 85 – Steve Smith and Adam Voges inspired a run spree as captain Michael Clarke strode out for his last match.
Smith would go on to clobber 17 fours and two sixes in his knock of 143 and rip back the world number one Test batsman ranking, while Voges will hope his 76 in a stand of 146 with Smith will help him extend his Test career.
Some lusty hitting from Mitchell Starc, who slammed nine fours and a six in his 58 of 52 balls, helped the Aussies reach 481.
Ben Stokes, Steve Finn and Moeen Ali nabbed three wickets each.
It was a shame Clarke only made 15, but he went to the crease to standing ovation and a guard of honour formed by the English players in a fitting tribute to Australia’s fourth highest run scorer.
The Australian bowlers then made mince meat out of the English bats, the two Mitchells, Johnson and Marsh, snaring three wickets each and Nathan Lyon and come back kid Peter Siddle grabbing two each.
Their efforts routed the Poms for just 149 in 48.4 overs, a long, long way off the target.
Only Moeen Ali (30), Mark Wood (24) and Alistair Cook (22) provided any resistance.
Sensing an easy kill, Clarke enforced the follow on on the English and it proved a master stroke.
This time it was the Siddle show, the Victorian seamer displaying some of the best line and length bowling of the series to pick up 4/35 from 24.4 overs, just under half of those maidens.
His efforts, coupled with a pair of wickets to each of Marsh and Lyon, helped Australia hold England to 286, still well short of their first innings total.
Even Smith chimed in with one over, which proved fruitful, removing the dangerous Cook for 85, England’s top scorer.
Jos Buttler made 42 and Ali finished off his fin series with another 35, proving a thorn in the Aussies’ side again.
It all meant nothing, though, as the English took the series, 3-2.
It meant a lot for Siddle though, who feared his Test career was over before his come back performance.
The 30 year old says he has plenty more in the tank and hopes he can pin down a fast bowling spot in the Test side.
“You always think (it might have been the last chance) a little bit,” the 56 Test veteran said.
“(There were) a couple of wickets that we’d played on where I thought I might’ve got my opportunity and had missed out.
He said he was excited to be able to showcase his skills on the big stage again.
“You just never know (what will happen next),” he said.
“Trent Bridge … was disappointing, but (I thought) ‘Keep doing everything I can’ and make sure that if my opportunity came that I had to be ready to go.
“I was disappointed it did take so long, but I was ready at any stage.”
Siddle has 195 Test wickets for Australia and needs five more to become just the 15th man to join the 200 club.
He hopes he’s done enough to book a ticket to Bangladesh.
“You’d hope so, yeah,“ Siddle said.
“You always want to keep playing for your country.
“It’s obviously tough being on the sidelines and carrying drinks … especially at my age – it’s only 30 but you still want to be out there.
“It has been tough, but to get this opportunity and come out here and bowl well (has been pleasing).”
Joe Root was named man of the series after a pair of tons that shaped the series, despite
Smith being the leading run scorer – and first Australian to score over 500 runs in an away Ashes since Matthew Elliott in 1997.
Root – famously dropped on nought by Brad Haddin in the first Test – registered a score of 130 at Trent Bridge and 134 in Cardiff.
“He’s been outstanding and led our batting,” Cook said.
“He’s a fantastic player and he certainly deserve that.
“To win man of the series in an Ashes is an incredible achievement and we’re delighted for him.”
Rogers was named Australia’s player of the series, as judged by England coach Trevor Bayliss.
“I’ve never been up here, so this is pretty special,“ Rogers said.
“A bit bittersweet that we didn’t win the series, but it’s nice to win this last Test and be a part of Michael’s (Clarke) last Test as well.”
Before Bangladesh kicks off, the Aussies have a date with Ireland tonight and then face off against the old enemy in a five match one day series, which starts on September 3.
The Aussies are red hot favourites to take out the series, with the Poms rank outsiders at $2.90.
But punters think it’s going to be a close series, with Australia 3-2 the favoured result at $2.63.
Who else but Smith leads the Australians for most runs at $3.50, with Warner at $3.75 and boom slogger Joe Burns at $5.50.
He might have struggled with the red ball, but give him a white one and Mitchell Starc is near on unplayable. That’s why he’s the $3 favourite to take the most wickets in the series, ahead of Pat Cummins at $3.75. They’re the only two really in the market, with Marsh and Nathan Coulter-Nile next best at $6 each of two.
The 15 man one-day squad features seven new faces compared to the side that won the World Cup earlier this year. Three of those men are uncapped.
“It’s been a tough tour for us,” Smith said.
“(It’s) disappointing to have lost the Ashes.
“(It’s a) new group now with some younger, newer guys who hopefully can bring some exuberance and energy to this group to help lift the spirits a bit and help the books get back on track to hopefully start my career in captaincy on this one-day tour on a winning note.”
Ashes star veterans James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Bell were left out and Root will be rested as England named five Test men in the one day squad.
Eoin Morgan will captain the English.
All rounder Moeen Ali returns to the side alongside fellow Ashes winners Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood.
“We have made some significant progress in our limited overs cricket this summer and the next six games allow these players to continue testing themselves against one of the very best sides in the world,” England National Selector James Whitaker said.
“This is primarily a young group of players and the next three weeks will provide them with valuable experience as we continue to identify players who can take our limited overs cricket forward over the next four years.
“On behalf of the selectors I would like to wish Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss all the very best for what I’m sure will be a very competitive and entertaining series.”
The Aussies are $1.08 against the Irish, who are $8, with Warner ($3.75) edging Smith ($4) as the favoured man to make the most runs. Starc is $3.40 for most wickets with another Victorian come back kid Jimmy Pattinson $4.33.
In match one of the series against England, the Australians are $1.48 to take the opener, with the Poms $2.67. The captains are $1.92 each of two to win the toss – as you’d imagine.
And, if you want to look into your crystal ball, the bookie already has odds on the 2017 Ashes series.
And guess what – Australia are the $1.40 favourites to return the urn, with the Poms $4.50 and a drawn series $5.50.
England vs. Australia One Day International squads
England squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
Australian squad: Steve Smith (captain), Ashton Agar, George Bailey, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Shane Watson, David Warner, Cameron Boyce (Twenty 20 only).
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