Stop the seesaw, I want to get off
It was the best of series, it was the worst of series.
In future years when cricket fans see that England won the Ashes 3-2 they could be forgiven in thinking that it was a close series, full of tense games which could have gone either way and tense nail biting final days. How wrong they would be. Final days in themselves seem a distant memory and the only thing close about this series was the final score. When England won the first Test by 169 runs it was described as a comprehensive victory. In hindsight and in comparison to the rest of the series it was a close run thing, a Test that could have gone either way.
Does it matter? Does cricket need close finishes?
I would say yes. Whilst for either side a clear one sided Test match has a sense of comfortable triumphalism that every coach and player would welcome but is like fast food for fans. It hits the spot with very little fuss or effort but leaves nothing in the way of the tension, uncertainty or emotions that make lasting memories. I meant to write this article a week ago, but struggled to find a narrative for this series, the story ended up being there isn't one. If very little is memorable a week or two later, then in 10 years time this series will simply have become a score in a statistician's book.
That isn't to say there hasn't been any special individual performances. Broad's 8 for 15 as Australia capitulated for 60 in the 1st innings at Trent Bridge with Stokes taking 6 for 36 against a more determined Australia in the second innings. No player sums up this alternate one way traffic of a series like the batting of Steve Smith. In Australia's victory at Lords he scored 215 and 58 and again shone at the Oval where his 143 was the bedrock for Australia's innings victory. Yet in innings outside the capital he barely scored a run, looking vulnerable to lateral movement.
At the start of this series we were all swept along with the exciting, attacking play, thrilled by both team's commitment to attacking fields and counter attacking batting, me included. However what appeared to be a whirlwind holiday romance in Capri, exciting and captivating at the time actually now feels like a series of series of occasionally disastrous one night stands in Magaluf.
An attacking approach is refreshing but this is Test cricket, it's meant to be a test, sometimes that will mean sensible, careful, planned cricket.
Maybe it's time we all grew up a little.