Another Ashes has come and gone. The third time in last 24 months that Australia have locked horns with England in an Ashes contest (in the meantime Australia have played five tests against the combined might of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe; just to put into perspective how often these two teams meet). As my friend Tareque rightly summarizes the series in an article for Cricking, “This is at best an etch-a-sketch drawing that will be there till the next series comes by and wipes it away. Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust; we might remember this one till the next series, but only just.”  But nevertheless every series gives statisticians numbers to ponder over and this series was no different.

This series was similar to Ashes 2009 in more than one way. Both were held in England and the home team emerged victorious on both cases. But the similarities don’t end there. In the 2009 edition, six among the top seven run-getters and top three wicket takers were from Australia. In the current series, three of the top four run getters and four of the top five wicket takers were again from Australia. Australia scored eight individual hundreds to England’s two in 2009 whereas in 2015 the hundreds score was 3-2 in favor of Australia. Yet they ended up on the wrong side of the result on both occasions.

None of the test matches were stretched to the fifth day shows how stark the difference was were there between the winning team and the losing team of each test. The smallest victory in terms of runs is by 169 runs and by wickets is by 8 wickets. Australia dominated the test matches on the flat surfaces at Lord’s and Oval helped by the fact that England batsman found ways of getting out on these tracks. On surfaces which offered a little assistance to swing and seam movement, the Australian batsmen were found wanting.

 

Average runs per wicket

Overall Lord’s & Oval Diff Cardiff, Birmingham & Nottingham Diff
Aus 32.06 65.05 +32.99 21.06 -11
Eng 29.19 21.05 -8.14 36.95 +7.76

 

Average runs per over

Overall Lord’s & Oval Diff Cardiff, Birmingham & Nottingham Diff
Aus 3.74 4.02 +0.28 3.48 -0.26
Eng 3.72 3.06 -0.66 4.24 +0.52

 

Australia scored more runs than England (2401 to 2209) at a better average (30.01 to 27.27) and a higher run rate (3.74 to 3.72). Australia also took more wickets (81 to 80) at a better average (28.03 to 30.30) and a superior strike rate (47.5 to 51.4). The top order of the Australia dominated the batting charts occupying three of the top four spots. Steve Smith continued his good run in tests and sits on top of run charts with 508 runs at 56.44 and scored the only double century of the series (215 at Lord’s). He is followed by Chris Rogers with 480 runs at 60.00 with a century and three fifties. David Warner’s 418 runs in the series included five fifties with one in each test.

Joe Root was England’s leader with the bat scoring 460 runs at 57.5 and a strike rate of 67, slowly but surely filling the void left by Kevin Pietersen in the England middle order. The obdurate Cook scored only 330 runs in 9 outings but he consumed 732 balls in the process, the most for England in the series and behind Smith and Rogers. Moen Ali underlined his importance to the side with 293 runs batting at #8 and forging useful partnerships down the order. His runs came at a strike rate of 71.46 per 100 balls which was only behind Warner among the top order batsmen from either side.

With James Anderson leaving in the middle of the series, Stuart Broad was easily the pick of the bowlers from either side with 21 wickets at 20.90. His spell of 8/15 in the first morning at his home ground in Trent Bridge was the stand out performance of the series. Mitchell Johnson looked a pale shadow from the last Ashes series barring couple of fiery spells at Lord’s. It was his protégé Mitchell Starc who spearheaded Australian bowling attack with 18 wickets at 30.50. Nathan Lyon was the best spinner from either side with an immaculate control complemented by the vital breakthroughs he provided. His 16 wickets came at 28.25 per wicket.

Here’s a closer look at the head-to-head stats for each Australian bowler against some of the England batsmen. England’s best batsmen, Joe Root scored over 100 runs against all the three frontline pacers of Australia at a combined average of 45.85. Starc dismissed him the most – three times. Starc was a real thorn in the flesh of England’s openers – dismissed them six times at an average of 19.83. Jos Butler had a quiet series (122 runs at 15.25 with a highest score of 42) with Nathan Lyon all over him dismissing him four times at a paltry average of 4.5.

 

England batsmen vs Australian bowlers

Batsmen Bowlers Runs Dismissals Average
A Cook M Johnson 83 1 83
A Cook M Starc 75 3 25
A Cook N Lyon 59 3 19.67
A Lyth M Starc 44 3 14.67
A Lyth J Hazlewood 28 3 9.34
A Lyth P Siddle 0 2 0
I Bell M Starc 57 2 28.5
I Bell N Lyon 41 2 20.5
J Root M Johnson 115 2 57.5
J Root M Starc 102 3 34
J Root J Hazlewood 104 2 52
J Root N Lyon 83 0
J Butler N Lyon 18 4 4.5
B Stokes M Starc 36 2 18
B Stokes M Marsh 14 2 7
B Stokes N Lyon 62 0
M Ali M Johnson 63 4 15.75
M Ali M Starc 74 1 74
M Ali J Hazlewood 21 2 10.5
M Ali N Lyon 89 0

 

Stuart Broad was exceptional against England’s top two batsmen – Smith & Rogers – dismissing them 10 times combined at an average of just 19. Warner who negotiated Broad safely fell to the part time spin of Moen Ali for four times. Rogers scored 109 runs off Anderson without getting dismissed. Clarke was dismissed by Finn twice for just four runs.

 

England batsmen vs Australian bowlers

Batsmen Bowlers Runs Dismissals Average
C Rogers J Anderson 109 0
C Rogers S Broad 113 5 22.6
C Rogers M Wood 76 2 38
C Rogers M Ali 72 0
D Warner J Anderson 32 3 10.67
D Warner M Wood 110 1 110
D Warner M Ali 69 4 17.25
D Warner S Broad 66 0
D Warner S Finn 73 0
S Smith S Broad 77 3 25.67
S Smith S Finn 42 3 14
S Smith M Ali 142 2 71
S Smith B Stokes 85 0
M Clarke S Broad 29 2 14.5
M Clarke M Wood 29 2 14.5
M Clarke S Finn 4 2 2
A Voges M Wood 29 2 14.5
A Voges B Stokes 44 2 22
P Nevill S Finn 19 2 9.5

 

 

Partnerships

Australian top order (103) dominated the English top 3. Australia’s first and second wicket partnership scored 565 and 614 runs respectively while the most managed by England was 485 runs for the fourth wicket. Either Warner or Rogers managed to score a fifty between them each time they batted except the first innings at Trent Bridge when the whole team were bundled out for 60 (both openers were dismissed for ducks). On contrast Cook and Lyth put together just 147 runs between them with a highest stand of 32.

Overall the first two wickets of Australia managed 1179 runs in the 19 innings between them at 65.5 per stand while the similar numbers for England stood at a sorry 384 runs at 21.33. What made the difference was England’s ability to form strong middle order partnerships. Australia’s 3 – 6 wickets scored 821 runs at 25.65 while the similar numbers stood at 1314 runs at 41.06, a difference of almost 16 runs per wicket.

 

ENGLAND AUSTRALIA
Wkt Runs Ave RR 100/50 Runs Ave RR 100/50 Diff Avg Diff RR
1 147 16.33 2.61 0/0 565 62.77 3.89* 3/3 -46.44 -1.28
2 237 26.33 3.68 0/1 614 68.22 4.05 1/3 -41.89 -0.37
3 314 39.25 3.61 0/4 181 22.62 3.81 0/1 +16.63 -0.2
4 485 60.62 3.95 2/1 269 33.62 3.53 1/0 +27 +0.42
5 317 39.62 3.6 1/1 143 17.87 3.13 0/1 +21.75 +0.47
6 198 24.75 3.2 0/1 228 28.5 3.71 0/2 -3.75 -0.51
7 162 20.25 3.81 0/2 98 12.25 2.16 0/0 +8 +1.65
8 223 27.87 4.5 0/2 331 41.37 4.36 0/3 -13.5 +0.14
9 235 29.37 4.89 0/2 68 9.71 3.51 0/0 +19.66 +1.38
10 47 6.71 3.16 0/0 68 9.71 2.81 0/0 -3 +0.35

 

 

The flops

Michael Clarke had a series to forget as a captain as well as a batsmen eventually leading to his retirement. His scored a mere 132 runs with a highest score of 38.

Mitchell Johnson terrorized England last time when they were down under with 37 wickets in the series. Though his final tally of 15 wickets at 34 looks respectable he was negotiated much easier by Engliash batmen this time around.

Adam Lyth in all probability might have played his last test at the Oval. His average of 12.77 is the worst by an England opener in Ashes since Geoff Cook’s 9.00 in 1983.

Jos Butler had a quiet series with the bat scoring just 122 runs at 15.25 with a highest score of 42. He was good behind the stumps with 12 catches.

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