The 2015 Ashes Test series is done and dusted for another year with Australia winning the fifth and final test by an innings and 46 runs.
In what becomes the perfect bizarre ending to a very bizarre series, Michael Clarke and his team secured the victory, despite the threat of rain, in convincing fashion.
As has been much written and spoken about, this series has lurched from the sublime to the ridiculous in the rollercoaster ride of performances from both teams.
There is no need for team reviews and inquiries because it is clear that these players are of the highest calibre and this series cannot be viewed as one player or one instance being the catalyst for a single outcome.
So why is Test cricket in this shape? Is this series just an anomaly? Is it the way the pitches are being prepared -- but that would tend to suggest a very lopsided result in favour of the hosts and, as the overall result attests to, that has not been the case.
Australia had two good outings while England were victorious in three, ultimately seeing the small treasured trophy -- known simply as the urn -- returned into the hands of the England and Wales Cricket Board.
None of the five tests were close and with a total of just 18 days of cricket played out of a possible 25, the spectators and worldwide broadcast audiences could be forgiven for feeling short-changed.
Prior to this Test, many historical statistics were being rolled out and expectations of Australia’s notching a win, at a ground it had
not had a victory at since 1972, were low. In addition, the surprise selection of 30-year-old Peter Siddle over young paceman Pat Cummins seemed to go against the selection trend of the ‘new guard’ moving forward for the future of Australian cricket.
Siddle finished the second innings with four wickets, six for the game, managing to swing the ball to great effect and the post-match rhetoric has now turned to why was he not played earlier in the series. So why and how did the pundits get it so wrong?
The answer may be two-pronged.
Firstly, the game is so over-analysed that there is an expectation of predictability and the beauty of this sport is that it is very much still reliant on the human element, which can excel or fail with a multiple of factors: the number of players; a five-day playing period and with nature playing a major role in the form of the weather (atmosphere and climate as well as rain).
Secondly, is there too much cricket being played and of the wrong format?
With the rich purses now being offered around the world in the form of Twenty20 cricket, it could be argued the skill set of younger players to be able to apply themselves to the longer format and strategies of the game, is being undermined.
The tradition of playing domestic first grade cricket in Australia and county cricket in England is now being affected by a crowded fixture calendar of options and no defined summer and off-season for the players.
If the answers were obvious, the question would not need to be dangling out there like a tail-ender's bat. Perhaps what is needed is considered analysis and contemplation of exactly what is desired from a good game of cricket, with consideration to each individual format, and how each may complement the other without being detrimental and with business and commercial considerations being kept in check and not allowed to dominate the discussion.
Whichever direction the post-mortem of this Ashes series takes, the overriding value from the contest again boils down to the people involved.
This fifth and final Test saw the departure of two veterans of the game. One, a stalwart and late-bloomer and perhaps undervalued member of the Australian cricket community and the other an absolute legend who will be remembered well and hailed as a great as the dust settles over his farewell performance.
Chris Rogers expressed emotion in farewelling the playing arena with a special mention for the pride he felt in finishing at the same time as his legendary captain, Michael Clarke. The two men were given a standing ovation by all present including a guard of honour by both teams as they left the field at the end of the match.
While Clarke would surely have loved a less controversial and more successful ending to his career, there is no doubt he will go down as one of Australia’s most innovative and proactive captains the game -- and Australian cricket -- has produced.Suggest a correction