Australia made easy work of yet another home ashes, going unbeaten in the last three series against England at home. Coming into the series, Australia had some questions regarding their team and future. The ongoing Ashes though helped answer some, but bought new questions as winning covered up some holes in the side.
Before the Ashes began, David Warner’s opening partner was a doubt. Marcus Harris was selected and given a fair rope in the side, but a lack of significant scores along with some strong runs from Usman Khawaja lead to a new opening pair in the final Test. Usman Khawaja didn’t do as well up the order in tough conditions at Hobart. His strong form though is likely to keep him as the first choice opener as Australia head to Pakistan.
David Warner on the other hand faded as the tournament went on. He made two 90s, missing out on the elusive hundred, but didn’t score as the series went on. He fell for a pair to his old nemesis, Stuart Broad in Hobart, but his two 90s should be enough to keep him in the side.
While Australia answered some questions, Steve Smith’s form grew to become a concern. He went through his first Ashes series without a century since 2010-2011 and was nowhere near the dominant force he was in 2019. Steve Smith struggled against the short ball, and Mark Wood had him in discomfort on various occasions. In the past, Steve Smith’s unorthodox technique has found him wanting on numerous occasions. Back then Smith managed to make tweaks to become the batter he is today. With a new weakness on hand, Smith will have to do some searching if he is to become the world-beater, we know he can be.
Travis Head came into the tour with a lot of questions about his selection. Picked over Usman Khawaja, Head set the series alight with a counter-attacking century in Brisbane. He missed the Sydney Test, but came back in Hobart and found Australia at 12 for 3. With wickets tumbling, Head came up with another livewire performance, and sealed a man of the series award that seemed unlikely at the beginning of the Ashes. With two counter-attacking innings, Head established himself as a gamechanger in the Australian side.
The giant Cameron Green came to life as an all-rounder in the Ashes. He was underused last summer, but with Australia looking to spread their bowlers up, Green was used effectively, and he made his height put the batters in significant discomfort. He had the edge on Joe Root, and his bowling resembled the Cameron Green before back injuries. His batting too was pretty helpful. Green chipped in with some useful runs, and finished with a tally of over 200 runs along with taking more than ten wickets.
Before the series, Australia looked overly dependent on Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood at home. The three bowlers were over-bowled last summer and looked clearly tired by the end of the series. With the presence of covid and injuries though, Australia had to rotate their bowlers.
An injury to Hazlewood limited him to just one Test, while Cummins had to miss the Adelaide Test as he was a close contact to a person who contracted Covid. Mitchell Starc was the only pacer to play all five Tests, barring Cameron Green. Through the series, Australia used three other bowlers in Richardson, Neser and Boland. Scott Boland impressed massively, and helped Australia realize that they have a strong bowling backup.
Pat Cummins was thrust the captaincy after Tim Paine’s sudden resignation and debates regarding a fast-bowling captain began immediately. Cummins though would be pleased to see how his side did. Facing a woeful English side helped with smooth transition, and allowed Cummins to show his captaincy traits.
His captaincy saw a feature of Australia using five bowlers, allowing Cummins to have a fresh bowler at any stage of the series. While the challenges of a fast-bowling captain are yet to come when Cummins goes overseas, his audition has been good. With Australia having three subcontinent tours it will be interesting to see how he and Australia respond to a new challenge.