England’s new state of mind
Saying that you will play fearlessly and doing it are different things. For the first time England did what they said and never stopped doing it. Their opponents must take some of the credit for this but England adapted it and modelled it to their liking and by the end on Saturday their fierce determination was obvious. It is not possible in Test cricket to replicate this precisely but intent, to use the buzz word, is a cardinal asset. England have it.
Bowling options for Ashes
Almost from nowhere – actually from Ashington – Mark Wood has shown he may have a significant part to play in the campaign to reclaim the Ashes. He may surprise a few ageing Australian batsmen with his pace, unusual approach and a sense of purpose accompanied by a glint in his eye. It was also heartening to see Steve Finn functioning something like he did in his early days. If Finn can forget the baggage and just bowl he could be a handful.
Form of Joe Root
Australia have Steve Smith, newly elevated to the No 1 ranking in Test cricket. But England have Joe Root, who has been outstanding this summer. All batsmen go through fallow periods and Root’s sternest challenge awaits against a uniformly powerful Australian pace attack. Let us hope it is not now. England will have to decide whether to leave him at No 5, as they probably should, or promote him. On him, as much as any batsman now, the Ashes depend.
Strength in depth
The wicketkeeping deputy is not something that normally occupies many selectorial hours since wicketkeepers tend not to be injured. Jos Buttler, however, was forced to miss the last ODI with split webbing. In came Jonny Bairstow and while he grabbed the headlines for his auspicious batting his keeping was equally, maybe surprisingly, adept. He has obviously worked on that aspect of his game, looking much more at home than previously.
A case of dropsy
England have taken some excellent catches in this extraordinary series but they were guilty of dropping far too many. This simply will not do if they are to have a prayer of beating Australia – England win the Ashes only when they catch everything. They must not only practice constantly but work on ensuring that every man is in the appropriate position at all times. Mistakes will happen but in this age of finest tuning fielding remains an England weakness.