Cricket: The Ashes Series revisited - from tops to tails

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The Independent Online
THE WINNERS

Bob Cottam: England's new bowling coach. The attack, much derided beforehand, usually stayed competitive. Since this was not widely anticipated and since Dean Headley (see below) virtually eliminated perpetual no-balling, Cottam is now working on turning lead into gold.

Dean Riddle: Fitness consultant. At various points the Australians said England could not bat, could not bowl and could not field. Never did they say they weren't fit (except to bat, bowl or field).

Dean Headley: Seemed to make four years progress in the last four weeks. Must now wait to discover, if and when he loses form, whether he becomes a victim of the usual selectorial quirk, not applied to batsmen, and is dropped.

Warren Hegg: He was 30, a journeyman wicketkeeper, notable for stunning reflexes and nickname of Chucky (as in Chucky 'egg). Destined to be perpetual reserve but is now W K Hegg of Lancashire and England. And he became a dad.

Michael Slater: The Aussies are taking the sparkling genius to task for failing to score first- innings runs. This is like blaming Alexander Graham Bell for not splitting the atom before inventing the telephone. Wonderful because he makes the game such fun, incapable of making a run or playing a stroke which does not have a cavalier touch. Now has seven Ashes hundreds.

Stuart MacGill: There might be only one Shane Warne. Sadly for England there's now one Stuart MacGill as well. It might be an accident that two such singular leg-spinners have turned up in the same country at once, but it probably isn't.

Mark Ramprakash: All right, so we have a vested interest because he is our columnist. Had also been given lots of chances by England. But the one-time golden boy has matured. Looks, plays and sounds like a Test batsman.

THE LOSERS

Angus Fraser: You take nearly 60 Test wickets in a year, you finish second in a telephone poll for sportsman of the year, you are appointed MBE and life must seem just dandy. Yet this marvellous bowler finished the tour without the greatest of his heart's desires, his England place, and with little prospect of winning it back at 33.

John Crawley: Has class, style, handsome strokes, and good footwork. Normally leaves them in dressing-room when playing for England. Lancashire might have known what they were doing appointing him captain - is not likely to be away on international duty.

Michael Slater: All those hundreds, all that dash, and not in the Australian one-day squad.

Jason Gillespie: Quickest bowler in Australia, took seven wickets at Perth, not seen since.

The England selectors: It is easy to be a selector after the event but occasional glorious hunches like picking Alex Tudor at the WACA and Peter Such (whose name they did well to remember) at Adelaide does not compensate for too many ill-balanced sides, a party which included too many injury- prone players, and only seven batsmen.

THE LANDMARKS

The shot: Many from Alan Mullally's slogging repertoire but more from his archetypal rabbit canon, none better than the defensive prod he played from square leg at Perth, presumably on his way to Adelaide for the next match.

The ball: The yorker with which Darren Gough claimed his hat-trick in the Fifth and final Test at Sydney. The yorker of high pace swung one way, then the other, and was never going to do anything else but hit the stumps.

The catch: Ramprakash turned the match at Melbourne but Slater's short-leg effort there has the edge. It removed Mark Butcher but might also have removed the fielder's rib-cage.

The drop: In England's case there are 22, or is it 23. But it's hard to separate two in Brisbane - the skier to Fraser at third man off Ian Healy or the nick to Nasser Hussain at slip off Steve Waugh.

The foul-up: Mullally will not want to be reminded of his fumble in front of the stumps which allowed Steve Waugh to escape at Brisbane. Unfortunately, he will be - for ever.

The team effort: As if you might not have known. Australia made 2,703 runs at 33.37 a wicket, England scored 2,243 at 23.36.

The worst shout: Tails.

The headline: "The Choke's On Us". In the Melbourne Age, after the Fourth Test.

It wouldn't have happened if they'd picked me: Graeme Hick (oh, but they did in the end), Andrew Caddick, Phil Tufnell, Mal Loye, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Hutchison - but it probably would.

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