Over the last decade, home advantage has played a massive role in the Ashes, with both sides exploiting the conditions on offer to the hilt. England had beaten Australia 3-0 the last time two sides met in English conditions, but Australia soon exacted revenge less than a year later when they blanked the Poms 5-0 at home. And so, when the teams came back to England, the hosts would have believed they had the significant advantage. And, they proved the same to be true with a brilliant display in three of the four Tests to claim the series 3-1, with one match to go.
While England without doubt went into the series having the upper hand, that was not going to enough for them to clinch the series. They needed to do more than that. The hosts did so, rising to the occasion, and outsmarting the visitors with some very good all-round efforts. The difference between the two sides during the course of the series was that England found a hero every time they needed one. Be it while batting for bowling, England were always in the ascendancy, but for the Lord’s Test, in which Australia were completely dominant.
Joe Root, who was one of the stars for England in the victory at Trent Bridge, has now climbed to the number one position in the Test ranking for batsmen. The move up is a clear indication of Root’s consistency, and he has only carried on his good work in the Ashes. In the last couple of years, Root has been carrying the England batting on his shoulders, with the veterans like Alastair Cook and Ian Bell having lost their peak form. In this Ashes as well, he has been the pivot in the batting.
It has been thanks to Root that England have manged to put up some decent batting performances in spite of their fact that their openers Cook and Adam Lyth have been complete failures. It is very rare that a side succeeds when both their openers struggle throughout the series. But, England’s results in this series indicate how well the hosts have coped up with the handicap, and also how poor the Aussies have been. They would be pleased to see Bell among the runs although he is not yet at his best. The recall of Jonny Bairstow has been fruitful for England.
Above all, it has been England’s bowling that has been the big difference between the two teams. If you take out the Lord’s Test, they have been all over the Aussies. James Anderson completely disintegrated them in the third Test, and when he was ruled out at Trent Bridge, Stuart Broad took over, and completed the humiliation. Steven Finn chipped in at key moments, and even Ben Stokes rose to the occasion in the fourth Test when Broad wasn’t able to break through. All in all, a superbly executed effort by England at home. Whether they can replicate the same away remains to be seen.
--By A Cricket Analyst