England’s fragilities were exposed in their hammering by Australia in the Ashes, suffering a 4-0 defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals. Steve Smith was outstanding for the Baggy Greens, leading his team to a resounding victory and outplaying his counterpart, Joe Root. Smith averaged 137 during the series, scoring three centuries, including a double-hundred at Perth.
The Three Lions had no answer for the Australia captain, while their own key men failed to fire while the series was still in play. The questions marks surrounding the team heading Down Under were magnified as Mark Stoneman and James Vince failed to rise to the occasion. Moeen Ali endured a nightmare tour, leaving his future in the Test side under scrutiny.
Head coach, Trevor Bayliss has come under fire for his hands-off approach, which makes a positive result against New Zealand in the next tour a must for the Australian coach. England have now lost more Test matches then they have won during his three year tenure. Assistant coach, Paul Farbrace, has insisted that the team have to begin their preparations for their next tour Down Under now, although the Baggy Greens still come to English shores in 2019 for their defence of the urn.
The Aussies are backed in the latest cricket odds at 4/5 to win the series in England. Smith’s men were dominant in their triumph, but have not beaten the Three Lions away from home since 2001. James Anderson is perhaps the only player to emerge from the series with credit for the tourists. He averaged 27.82 with the ball, taking 17 wickets. He was at his best even on lifeless pitches, while the rest of the attack toiled. Anderson will be 37 at the time when the Ashes comes around once again, and although he remains a world-class operator he may opt to end his career beforehand.
Stuart Broad was well below-par in Australia, striking just 11 times to highlight his poor form. He has dominated the Baggy Greens in the past, especially on home soil. However, rumours have been abounding over his future in the game, with a move to the television studio touted. Broad will only be 33 next year, but he has troubles with injuries. Losing their world-class bowlers would leave a massive void for England to fill in 18 months.
Craig Overton displayed promise in his limited action, while Chris Woakes has been effective in home conditions. However, Tom Curran, Jake Ball, Steven Finn and Mark Wood have either struggled in their playing time or have been struck down by injury. The future of Ben Stokes is anyone’s guess at this point due to his ongoing legal issues – therefore decisions need to be made not just for 2022, but also in the short term.
The Three Lions will not want to make drastic changes to their side for the tour of New Zealand, but the summer could provide an opportunity to make wholesale changes. There are players emerging in the county circuit, although it has not been an easy transition in the Bayliss era, which could see not just changes in the team, but also in England’s backroom staff in the months ahead.