Australia win ashes

The Ashes may have brought a heavy defeat on the field for England, but for those following the team on tour Down Under, it was still a memorable experience.

Few had expected Joe Root's men to retain the urn, not least given the lack of genuine pace in the bowling attack. By contrast, Australia had Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood all fit, fast and firing, apart from the MCG Test when Starc was out with a bruised heel. They also had an immovable object in Steve Smith's batting.

Jimmy anderson

The difference on slow pitches was evident, not least because when Jackson Bird took Starc's place in Melbourne, his lesser pace made no impact, while the military medium of Mitchell Marsh also failed to register in the wickets column. With Nathan Lyon's offspin tormenting most of England's left-handers, four Australians took 90 wickets between them.

Despite the tough bowling conditions, Jimmy Anderson remained a star, taking 19 Australian wickets at 27.58 each and bowling more than 223 overs, a phenomenal feat for a 35-year-old whose powers show no sign of waning. 

Alastair Cook

The other senior players had mixed times. Moeen Ali had a difficult tour, as did Stuart Broad. Skipper Joe Root was unable to convert a half century into the big score he craved, although in the second innings at Sydney he earned admiration from all sides for his guts in coming out to bat in the heat despite suffering gastroenteritis.

Alastair Cook also had a tough time until the Boxing day Test at the MCG came along. Those flying in on the Gullivers trip might have felt they were in Birmingham rather than Australia when landing on a wet Christmas Eve morning, but it was his feat at Edgbaston last summer that was to be emulated once the sun shone, the vast crowd in the iconic stadium rising to acclaim a titanic innings of 244 not out. 

Indeed, it bears repeating just how many records he smashed: It was the highest score ever for an opener carrying his bat, the top Test score by a visiting batsman in an MCG Test - beating the 208 made by Viv Richards in 1984 - and in the course of the innings Cook eclipsed two other West Indian batsmen - Shiv Chanderpaul and Brian Lara - in terms of Test runs scored, as well as passing the tally of Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene. It was also his fifth double century for England, a total surpassed only by the great Walter Hammond.

dawid Malan

The batsman who emerged with his reputation most enhanced was Dawid Malan, who came into the series with just three Tests under his belt and emerged as England's leading scorer, averaging 53 and making his first Test century at Perth.

For all that relinquishing the urn might disappoint, there was no doubt the tour was memorable, with the sunshine and friendly welcome of one of the world's most attractive and fascinating countries making this a wonderful trip. Whether it was a chance to see Australia's remarkable fauna and flora, or iconic buildings such as Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Joe Root and assistant coach Paul Farbrace have both said planning for England's next Ashes tour down under will start now. For many of those who experienced the trip, minds will already be eagerly turning towards the next visit four years from now.



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