The Ashes: A look at the reasons for England's defeat to Australia

Andy Hampson 10:57 09/09/2019
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Joe Root

Australia have retained the Ashes after victory in the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford.

Here, we look at where the series was won and lost.

Steve Smith

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The Australia batsman has been on a different level to every other player in the series. Returning to the side after suspension following a very public humiliation and loss of the captaincy last year, the 30-year-old has simply been outstanding. Scores of 144, 142, 92, 211 and 82 are not just brilliant but Bradman-esque. Perhaps the series would have been over earlier had he been fit for the third Test at Headingley.

Failure to capitalise on strong position in first Test

England made a brilliant start to the series as they reduced Australia to 122 for eight on the first day at Edgbaston. It was then, however, that Smith took charge cracking his first century of the summer while Peter Siddle offered stubborn resistance at the other end. England did recover to claim a first innings lead but it was a missed opportunity and they eventually lost by 251 runs.

Absence of James Anderson

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England’s all-time leading wicket-taker managed to bowl just four overs in the series before suffering a recurrence of a calf injury. With him off the field England struggled to remove the tail when in a position of dominance at Edgbaston and have missed his new-ball brilliance since. Jofra Archer has come in and done well and Stuart Broad has been England’s best bowler of the series, but the attack would have been more potent with Anderson too.

Missing out at Lord’s

England put themselves in a strong position in the second Test but were unable to bowl Australia out in the second innings despite them losing Steve Smith to a concussion injury. His replacement Marnus Labuschagne hit a battling half-century and Travis Head a defiant unbeaten 42 as the tourists held out for a draw.

Bad day in the field in Manchester

Smith was again outstanding at Old Trafford but England did not help themselves at times in the field and let Australia, with 497 for six declared, score too many in the first innings. Conditions were unpleasant on the first day but Archer was ineffective, catches were dropped and Jack Leach overstepped to his cost when he had Smith caught on a no ball.

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