So where does this leave us? Ashes retention is technically ticked off, but the series is not yet decided. Australia have returned to Test cricket and England have been a little bit disappointing in how they’ve responded to that.
England’s bowling, Australia’s batting
Young Australian batsmen like Chris Rogers and Michael Clarke fared well on a flat pitch, but the team’s batting hasn’t suddenly gained the rigidity of raw spaghetti. Most of it’s still as floppy as cooked spaghetti. On the other hand, England’s bowling appeared as insipid as plain spaghetti.
Tim Bresnan probably is England’s third best seam bowler, but he shares many qualities with either James Anderson or Stuart Broad without offering anything additional. It’s a little like adding more spaghetti to a plate of spaghetti bolognese when it would benefit far more from some parmigiano reggiano.
On a livelier pitch or with more swing in the air, this trio of pace bowlers will doubtless function very well, but do England not need some sort of plan for when conditions don’t give them much to work with?
England’s batting, Australia’s bowling
One of the most damning outcomes of this match for England is that Australia may well not change their team too radically. That’s a sign of a missed opportunity. Australia have a few okay players and continued mismanagement of them has been improving England’s chances immeasurably.
We worry that England have allowed Australia the breathing space needed to cease tinkering with their line-up. The ideal scenario would have seen prolonged tinkeration right up until the end of the next Ashes series – basically, a self-imposed campaign of confidence erosion, both individual and collective.
Now what? Now they’ll sort of settle on a team who might perform a bit better than they otherwise would have done? What a sickening thought.