Ashes 2015: What went wrong for Australia?

The urn is now out of reach after England take a 3-1 lead. Charles Reynolds analyses where it went wrong for the tourists

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The Independent Online

England have won back the Ashes. After the humiliation of the last series in Australia, the diabolical World Cup campaign and the doom and gloom pre-series predictions, those six words sound all the more sweet.

Ultimately it has taken just 484 overs and one ball for this series to be wrapped up, leaving it on course to be one of the shortest five-match series in Ashes history, with Australia thoroughly thrashed in three of the first four Tests.

So what went wrong for the tourists? How did they lose a series so many people predicted them to win easily?

There can be no doubt that where Australia primarily lost this series was with the bat, their inability to consistently create runs outside of their top three came back to haunt them throughout the series.

Chris Rogers was the only Australian batsman to really look secure throughout the first four Tests of the series, his 437 runs at an average of 73.83 the proof of that, and while Steve Smith made a fantastic double hundred at Lord’s, elsewhere he did little to justify his ranking as the number one batsman in the world.

Outside of Rogers, Smith and David Warner, the next best performing Australian batsman has been Mitchell Johnson, who has made 141 runs at 20.14. A pretty damning indictment on Australia’s middle order.

 

But it has not just been with the bat that Australia have let themselves down. They came into this series with a bowling attack tipped to blow England away, yet in seven innings they have failed to bowl England out twice and only once for less than 280.

The retirement of Ryan Harris on the eve of the series has clearly hit them hard, shorn of his relentless accuracy their attack has been too inconsistent. Mitchell Starc, who is currently their leading wicket taker in the series, essentially embodies this. One minute he is spraying the ball wide of off or leg stump, the next he is bowling an unplayable inswinging yorker – the problem for Australia has been too much of the former.

Elsewhere Josh Hazlewood has done little to cement his pre-series reputation as being ‘the new Glenn McGrath’ and it would not be a surprise to see him left out of the last Test.

While Australia have been poor on the field, they have not perhaps been helped by their selectors, the selection of Shane Watson at Cardiff and Shaun Marsh over his brother Mitchell at Trent Bridge perhaps the most obviously strange calls.

Arguably one of the final reasons for Australia’s defeat is ironically something that is so usually one of their greatest strengths, confidence. Australia were perhaps a little over-confident going into this series, riding the crest of a wave from their World Cup victory through to steamrollering the West Indies in June, they came into this series expecting to demolish an England side that have endured a dreadful recent period.

“I don’t think they’ll come close to us to be honest,” said Steve Smith before the series. He’s certainly been made to eat those words now.

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