The 2019 Ashes is still up for grabs due to Ben Stokes magical, reslient and skilful innings of 135 not out giving England an exciting one wicket victory. His innings will go down in the anuls of Test cricket history as one of the best of all time. His batting feats were even more remarkable when you take into account that he bowled an energy sapping 24.2 overs, claiming 3 for 56 in Australia’s second innings.
Australian and English cricket fans were put through a wide range of emotions from elation to despair throughout the Test. This unpredictable Test provided impressive individual performances and elementary mistakes in equal measure. There were the first 5 wicket halls for Jofra Archer and Josh Hazelwood in England, gritty and skilful batting performances from Marnus Labuschagne who scored 74 and 80 and 6 outfield catches from David Warner. This was matched by a untidy and mistake ridden wicket keeping performance from Jonny Bairstow, poor decision making from Umpire Joel Wilson, inept batting by top order batsmen and many misfields from players on both sides.
The victory papers over the cracks for England’s Test team. Jason Roy and Josh Buttler continue to fail with the bat and look out of depth in Test arena. Jonny Bairstow continues to perform nervously and untidily behind the stumps and Joe Denly and Rory Burns are susceptible to getting out to the short ball. England look brittle and fragile when batting and these defects came to the fore when they posted a paltry 67 in the first innings. The concern for England is that there are no obvious replacements for the poor performing batsmen. The County Championship batting averages are disappointingly low this season for England hopefuls. Only Dominic Sibley of Warwickshire can make a strong case for selection, averaging 55.82, scoring 949 runs, 3 hundreds and 4 fifties from 10 matches this season.
I would make 2 changes for England in the next Test at Old Trafford. Dominic Sibley would come in for Jason Roy at the top of the order and Ben Foakes replacing Josh Buttler. I would also have Ben Foakes as wicketkeeper batting at 7 moving Jonny Bairstow up to number 6.
I would make 2 changes for Australia. I would bring back Steve Smith for Matthew Wade and Mitchell Starc for James Pattinson. Having victory snatched from their grasp by Ben Stokes at Headingley, the next Test at Old Trafford will be a huge challenge for the Australians mental strength and confidence.
The thrills, luck, unpredicatability and fantastic individual performances have made this Ashes series a compelling watch for cricket fans on both sides.
Long live the Ashes…..