The worst tour in memory and probably the worst tour ever. One win in competitive games from three Twenty20, five ODI and five Tests is a complete and utter humiliation in anyone’s book!
But from the ashes of this Ashes tour will rise another good England team. Several players showed plenty of promise during the tour and give hope that England can start building again, under new management, starting against Sri Lanka this summer.
From Ben Who? Back in November to first name on the team sheet by January, Stokes’ rise isn’t a surprise to any who watched him develop as a junior cricketer but might be to the average England fan. Notionally an all-rounder, Stokes looked England’s best bowler in some of the Tests, was the quickest in all he played and the only England batsman to register a Test century. His emergence has allowed England to change the way they play, altering the balance of the team and, it is hoped, masking the loss of Graeme Swann.
As Joe Root will testify, international cricket has its ups and downs, but Stokes has already come through a tough patch – sent home from an A tour for disciplinary reasons and becoming a little too familiar with the local police in England too – and looks set to be an England regular for a number of years, regardless of who gets the coach’s job.
Dumped from the Test a few years ago now, some thought Dubliner Morgan was destined for the scrap heap. Instead he joined the travelling Twenty20 circus and quietly became England’s best limited overs batsman. He became only the second England player to hit a ton on tour which followed up important knocks in the other one day games too. With Cook’s future in doubt as the one day captain, and Broad hardly setting the world alight as skipper in the Twenty20 games, Morgan is being tipped as England’s next limited overs captain. And he’d be flipping good at it too.
Despite not winning a game as captain on this tour, Broad has been consistently outstanding as a bowler. Not the quickest any more, he’s grown into his roll and knows when to be aggressive (and who to be aggressive with), when to look for line and length and when to bowl dry. He also showed a level of maturity many didn’t think he had by handled the stick that came his way (for not walking back in England) really well. Instead of the outbursts and tantrums, we got channelled aggression into some great spells of bowling. By the end of the tour he was confident enough in his performance to talk about missing the boos from the home crowd.
Well played Broady, well played.
With Matt Prior having a 2013 to forget and his back up Jonny Bairstow hardly nailing the vacant wicket keepers spot, all eyes turned to Jos Buttler in the limited overs games to see if he could claim the spot. The first question was can he keep wicket, something he’s only done occasionally for his county. The answer was a resounding yes. Can he bat down the order? Again, a resounding yes. With no Pietersen in this team, Buttler is the man to come out and watch. He biffs the ball a long, long way, has the ramp, scoop, flick or whatever it’s called these days and can finish games off well.
He’d be the first to admit he’s not scored the runs in county cricket yet to demand the Test job, but a move to a new county to get more first class experience, a great temperament for the big stage and the desire for England to be more proactive in Tests could lead to him being first choice in all formats by the time England pull on the whites again in the summer.
Yes, Jonathan Trott. While it won’t be a tour to remember for Trotty, the fact that he is back at home with his family and getting the treatment he needs is a big bonus for everyone. Who know if he will ever play for England again, but he is a genuinely nice bloke and he deserves credit for trying to battle on and opening up about his problems.
Jordan hasn’t exactly come from nowhere, but his form opening the bowling in the ODI series makes him one to watch for the future. He’s only played 6 ODIs but bowled with confidence, swagger and real pace in the face of aggressive batting from Australia. At times in the one day series, Jordan was the go to man for Cook when he needed the opposition reeled in a little (admittedly while Braod was being rested), but that’s not bad for an international rookie. Jordan was born in Barbados and never, ever talks about going to the same school as Rihanna. OK, well, maybe he does talk about it… at every opportunity.
Spending his winter between the North East of England and South Africa was a great move for Graham Onions. While he was understandably disappointed at being overlooked for this tour, the form of Tremlett, Rankin and Finn, the guys picked him front of him, was so bad that he got better and better in the eyes of the fans and commentators without lifting a finger.
This was supposed to be a list of the top eight players from the men’s team over the three format series. It’s a sad reflection on the tour that I can only find seven who’s reputation has improved over the last three months, and one of them left early and one wasn’t even on the tour! So, it’s over to the victorious England team, the women, to fill the last place which goes to captain Charlotte Edwards.
The multi-format Ashes that the women play is a little more complicated than the winner takes all male version, but England won a Test, an ODI and a Twenty20 game to win the Ashes. Edwards scored a good 50 in the Test and a superb 92 from 59 balls – a captain’s knock – in the Twenty20 to bring the Ashes back home.
There’s the list of eight. Well, five actually from the tour, one who didn’t go, one who left early and one from the women’s team. If I had a spare week, I’d write about all the players whose reputations took a battering during the tour, but I think that’s been covered plenty elsewhere. I’d be amazed if you could think of any other players who left the tour in credit, but please feel free to pop their names and an explanation in the comment.