First Half of Ashes Marathon Goes to England

England 3-0 Australia – 5 Tests – England retain the Ashes

The scoreline seems unequivocal – the reality was less so.  Although the final result roundly vindicated England’s pre-series label as strong favourites, the hosts delivered a series of stuttering performances in the face of an increasingly organised Australian XI.  With the second half of this back-to-back Ashes battle a little under three months away, the Baggy Greens will leave this series regretful of the outcome, but considerably more hopeful of reacquainting themselves with the precious urn in the coming months.

England truly dominated in just one of the five Tests, the 2nd at Lord’s.  In all four of the other matches, Australia at times appeared positioned to strike for victory only to be confounded by one of two irresistible forces: either the weather or Ian Bell.

Centuries from Bell transformed the hosts’ 2nd innings in the 1st and 4th Tests, both times having conceded a 1st-innings deficit.  Although two plucky Australian run chases followed Bell’s heroics, England twice found what was necessary to force the win.

The tourists dominated much of the 3rd and 5th Tests, recording imposing 1st-innings totals that England were unable even to approach.  Moreover, visiting captain Michael Clarke was able to declare all four of his side’s innings across these two matches.  Although the 3rd match ended in stalemate, the 5th Test almost resulted in a barely deserved victory for the English following a sporting declaration from Clarke.  As the failing Oval light brought an end to both England’s chase and the series as a whole, thoughts turned to the return series beginning this November in Australia, with England seeking improvement and Australia redemption.

England’s retention of the Ashes leaves them third in the League, trailing India by the narrowest of margins.  Australia remain fourth, but will know that they will leapfrog their oldest rivals should they wrest back the urn come January.

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