It is the most historic series in the cricketing calendar, but it was yet another lopsided one down under as Australia romped to a 4-0 series win, wrapping up the Fifth Test inside three days in Hobart.
Australia’s team-first approach saw them use 15 players, hand out three baggy greens, recall one player after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, another after almost three years, and create a genuine superstar out of a 32-year-old, on the way to one of the nation’s most resounding Ashes wins.
England on the other hand, was left searching for the right combinations and chopping and changing their team with the tried and tested to try come up with that winning combination.
The Australians were firing and raring to go for almost every Test match, whilst most of the English had an Ashes they’d much rather forget about.
Here’s The Inner Sanctum’s look at who were the best and the worst in the 2021-22 Ashes.
Statistics: 273 runs. Average 34.12. H.S 95
After a dire last Ashes in England where he averaged just 9.5, Warner was coming into this series with a desire to perform and to begin with strong performances.
Scores of 94 and 95 in his first two innings of the series at the Gabba and Adelaide Oval left many pondering whether the opener had left his previous woes behind him.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, as he proceeded to average just 14 over his next six innings. This drop in form culminated with the opener collecting a pair during the Fifth Test of the series in Hobart.
Whilst his final showings were reminiscent of the 2019 Ashes series, Warner did contribute considerably whilst the series was still on the line.
Statistics: 179 runs. Average: 29.83. H.S: 76
From ball one, Marcus Harris was under pressure to perform having not made the most of his Test opportunities to date.
Perhaps the beneficiary of a lack of candidates to partner David Warner at the top of the order, there’s no doubting Harris’ determination to perform.
A gutsy knock of 76 at his home ground of the MCG was the highlight of the series for Harris, seeing him earn respect from plenty of fans.
However, it wasn’t enough to see him keep his spot for the final Test, ending what was a disappointing Ashes for Harris, with every knock, apart from one, resulting in less than 40 runs.
Statistics: 335 runs. Average 41.87. H.S 103
The current number one Test batter in the world picked up where he left off last summer in the first few matches of the series, with scores of 74, 103, 0*, and 51 over his first four innings.
Unfortunately for the Queenslander, his next three matches produced rather disappointing results, not reaching 50 across his next five innings with a high score of 44, with English seamer Mark Wood getting the better of him on four occasions in the final three tests.
His scores early were able to get the Australians on the front foot, a position that they subsequently never looked back from.
He still finished with the second-most runs of anyone in the series, with his average of above 40 being exceptionally healthy considering the bowler-friendly pitches that were put up over the summer.
Statistics: 244 runs. Average 30.50. H.S. 93
Unfortunately for the Australian vice-captain, he was never able to truly get going this series, averaging just 30.5 with a high score of 93.
The number four never looked like his dominant self, and whilst there were glimpses during his innings of 93 at Adelaide, he couldn’t ever get a firm grip on the series.
His average of just 37.6 during first innings’ was particularly uncharacteristic, down from his career Ashes average of 85. It was also the first Ashes series since 2011 where he didn’t score a single century.
Statistics: 357 runs. Average 59.5. H.S. 152
It truly was a series to remember for Travis Head, with the South Australian cementing his spot in the Test side with a man of the series performance.
Whilst other batters struggled on bowler-friendly pitches, Head relished the challenge, scoring two hundreds and a crucial fifty.
What was even more remarkable was his ability to dominate at crucial points during a match, an example being when Australia was 3/12 during the first innings in Hobart, and turn them in the home side’s favour.
Despite missing the Sydney Test after testing positive to COVID-19, he was still able to end the series as the top run-scorer, whilst also finishing with the second-highest average behind Khawaja.
Statistics: 255 runs. Average: 85. H.S: 137
Before the fourth Test in Sydney, Usman Khawaja had to wait 867 days since his last match wearing the baggy green, a lot of those days perhaps believing he’d never get another opportunity.
After Travis Head tested positive to COVID-19, Khawaja was called into action and delivered one of the great SCG individual performances.
Experience, temperament, and class probably best describe the innings’ that Khawaja played with in Sydney, scoring 137 in the first before backing it up with a 101* in the second innings.
Khawaja’s twin tons were perhaps blemished in Hobart where he was promoted to opening the batting and made 6 and 11, opening the batting on a bowler-friendly wicket.
Statistics: 228 runs. Average: 32.57. H.S: 74
13 wickets. Average: 15.76. Economy: 2.54 BBI: 3/21
After his debut season of Test cricket last year against India, Australian fans again were keen to see Cameron Green in Australian Test whites.
He struggled early with the bat in the series, being bowled twice at the Gabba and Adelaide Oval, and there were queries over his spot in the side with fellow West Australian Mitch Marsh in the form of his life.
But despite his early battles with the bat, it was with the ball that Green starred. The young all-rounder captured his first Test wicket at the Gabba and was a constant threat with the ball in hand all series.
Continuing to capture top-order wickets, his superb bowling rubbed off onto his batting in Sydney and Hobart. With a few technical tune-ups, the 22-year-old made 74 twice, replicating the freedom he played with last summer.
Green is still missing the elusive century and five-for, but both aren’t too far away. He will be a key piece in Australia’s tours to the sub-continent, allowing the Australians flexibility with their bowling attack as he can act as one of their front-line fast bowlers, and his stats of 13 wickets at 15.76 are a good view of how dangerous he can be.
Statistics: 183 runs. Average: 20.33. H.S: 51.
23 catches, 0 stumpings
At the start of the summer, Alex Carey wasn’t even projected to be in the Australian XI, however with Tim Paine unavailable, taking a break away from cricket, Carey was thrown into the role of Australia’s Test wicketkeeper.
The experienced campaigner couldn’t have produced a better outing on debut at the Gabba, breaking the record for most catches for a wicketkeeper on Test debut, taking eight catches.
Despite the fabulous debut, there were times throughout the series Carey’s keeping ability came into question, including several dropped catches, missed run-out opportunities, and not going for balls a keeper should be catching.
With the bat, the South Australian found it difficult at times, looking in two minds on several occasions, wanting to be that aggressive Adam-Gilchrist-type wicketkeeper-batter.
He was able to make his maiden Test half-century in front of friends and family during the day-night pink-ball Test in Adelaide.
With other wicketkeepers such as Josh Inglis are fighting for that position, Carey will want to ensure he keeps performing, especially behind the stumps with a tour to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, places where wicketkeepers’ skills are amplified and under the microscope the most.
Statistics: 21 wickets. Average 18.04. Economy 2.99. BBI 5/38
It was another brilliant Ashes series for the new Australian Captain, as he finished top of the wicket-taking list with 21 despite playing just the four games.
It was the third consecutive time he has topped the list for most wickets in the Ashes series, with his ability to get an early breakthrough or clean up the tail being extremely valuable for the Australians throughout the summer.
Whilst it was his first series as captain, it certainly didn’t seem like it, as he put to bed the hesitancies around fast-bowling captains, setting brilliant fields and making perfect bowling changes.
It really couldn’t have gone better for the New South Welshman, as he now celebrates the successes of his team’s work over the last few months.
Statistics: 19 wickets. Average: 25.36. Economy: 3.16. BBI: 4/37
155 runs. Average: 38.75.
Mitchell Starc got Australia off to the perfect start to the Ashes when he bowled Rory Burns with the first ball of the series at the Gabba, setting the tone for the rest of the series.
As the only bowler of Australia’s Big Three pace bowlers who played in all five Test matches, Starc played a key role in each of them, opening the bowling for Australia and taking the first over with the new ball.
As the highest wicket-taker with the pink ball and two day/night Tests, Starc collected 10 wickets over the two Tests and had his best figures for the series in Adelaide, taking 4/37.
Starc finished the Ashes having taken the second-most wickets, only behind captain Pat Cummins, where his speed and ability to swing the ball caused headaches for many of the English batters who often found themselves edging the ball behind.
It wasn’t just Starc’s bowling that was a must-see but also his batting, with the left-hander playing some handy lower-order innings’ throughout the series, frustrating England by helping to extend the run chase.
Starc scored a 35 in Brisbane, an unbeaten 39 in Adelaide, and a 34 not out at the SCG.
By the end of the second Test, Starc found himself as the fifth-best all-rounder in the ICC rankings, even moving ahead of Ben Stokes.
Overall he finished the series scoring 155 runs over seven innings’, going at an average of 38.75, better than the majority of the English batters.
Statistics: 16 wickets. Average 23.56. Economy 2.31. BBI 4/91
After a few disappointing home summers, Nathan Lyon showed why he is known as the “GOAT” this Ashes, getting 16 wickets over the series, including his long-awaited 400th Test scalp in Brisbane.
Remarkably he didn’t even need to bowl a single ball in Hobart, ultimately meaning that his impressive statistics look even better over the four matches.
Lyon was also proved to be quite handy with the bat for the home side, scoring 76 runs at crucial times during the series, including a quickfire 31 in Australia’s first innings in Hobart.
He certainly won the battle of the spinners with Jack Leach and proved just how valuable he is to the current Australian side.
Statistics: 18 wickets. Average: 9.55. BBI: 6/7
Scott Boland made his Test debut on Boxing Day at his home ground, the MCG. He was a ‘horses for courses’ selection replacing Jhye Richardson, and he started with a bang, taking his first Test wicket on day one.
But it was his efforts on day three, that people around Australia will remember. The Victorian bowler took 6/7, figures that helped Australia secure the Ashes and gave them a 3-0 lead.
The 32-year-old Indigenous man was also awarded the Johnny Mullagh Medal (Best player of the Boxing Day Test match) for his performance.
The fast bowler would hold his place in the XI for Australia’s next two Tests in Sydney and Hobart. Boland continued where he left off in Melbourne, continually taking the English batters’ wickets.
He ended up finishing third on the wicket-takers list, taking 18 wickets at an average of 9.55. This Ashes series will be a memory that Boland will never forget as will Australian and Victorian fans.
Statistics: 5 wickets. Average: 24.00. Economy: 3.14. BBI: 5/42
Jhye Richardson entered the Australian XI in Adelaide replacing an injured Josh Hazlewood, and he fitted in perfectly after a long absence from the Test arena.
The Western Australian tearaway asked a lot of questions to the English opening pair with the pink ball under lights in Australia’s first bowling innings, but struggled the next day during the first session, finishing wicketless.
The young West Australian had a massive impact in the second innings, removing both English openers, Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed.
He bowled Australia to victory in the last session when he removed Jos Buttler hit-wicket and James Anderson to end the Test match and take his first five-wicket haul in his short Test career.
However, the 25-year-old didn’t play another Test in the series due to injury and Cricket Australia taking precautionary measures, knowing he’s a valuable member of the team for the present and the future.
Statistics: 2 wickets. Average: 30.50. Economy: 2.54. BBI: 1/28
It was a long wait for Neser to get his baggy green, and an even unique set of circumstances for him to win his spot in the Australian team. After captain Pat Cummins was struck as a COVID-19 close contact, Neser finally got his hands on his own baggy green after multiple summers around the squad carrying the drinks.
With Australia batting up until the final session commenced on day two, Neser made an early inroad, dismissing English opener Haseeb Hameed to claim his first wicket in Test cricket. Neser would claim a wicket in the second innings also, with batter Dawid Malan falling to an LBW dismissal.
While captain Cummins was recalled for the Boxing Day Test, and Neser was not seen for the remainder of the series, the seamer showed the Australian public that he was more than capable at the elite level.
Statistics: 3 wickets. Average: 24.66. BBI: 2/42
Hazlewood looked as efficient as ever in his only Test for the series. Capturing the key wickets of Malan and Root to leave England 3/11 inside the first hour of the series, Hazlewood reminded us all of why he is a top-five bowler in the world when at the top of his game.
Hazlewood’s relentless line and length will be an asset in the subcontinent should he recover from his rib injury in time for March’s tour of Pakistan.
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Statistics: 80 runs. Average: 10. High Score: 27
Coming to Australia having performed okay in the English summer and having won his place back in the Test squad after a strong County season, it couldn’t have gone worse for the young England opener. Starting out with promising knocks in Brisbane, it all went downhill very quickly for Hameed.
In his next few innings after that, he didn’t go past single digits, averaging only 4.7 from Adelaide onwards. Hameed was then rightfully dropped for the final day/night Test in Hobart, by far one of, if not England’s worst performers down under.
Statistics: 77 runs. Average: 12.83 H.S: 34
Burns entered the Ashes as England’s second-highest run-scorer for the year, albeit with an average of just 26.47. It took just one delivery for Burns to become England’s first dismissal of the tour, bowled around his legs by a hooping delivery from Mitchell Starc at the Gabba.
In his next three innings’, Burns looked unsettled by the pace and swing of Australia’s world-class bowling attack, before being dropped for Zak Crawley ahead of the Boxing Day Test.
Highlighting the lack of depth in England’s squad, Burns was recalled for the final Test in Hobart at the expense of Hameed, however to no avail, run out for a duck in the first innings, and chopping the ball onto his stumps despite a promising start in the second.
Statistics: 166 runs. Average: 27.66 H.S: 77
Crawley’s showing on the tour was somewhat of a highlight for a squad searching for some promise in their batting line-up. After failing to capitalise on solid starts in Melbourne, Crawley put together his best performance in the second innings at the SCG, where he looked as comfortable as any England batter had in the series, scoring 77.
Innings’ of 12, 18, 18, and 36 will frustrate Crawley, but given the lack of obvious talent shown at the top of the England batting order since the likes of Strauss and Cook. Former English opener and respected broadcaster Michael Atherton said Crawley is a player that England should invest time into and have some faith in.
Statistics: 244 runs. Average: 24.40. H.S: 82
Questions will continue to surround whether Malan is capable of taking his game to the next level in Test match cricket following a below-average Ashes series. Despite a pair of 80s in Brisbane and Adelaide, Malan’s technical floors were soon exposed by Australia’s bowling attack.
His naturally attacking style of play is one that should be well-suited to Australian conditions, however, Malan’s footwork throughout the back end of the series often reflected his mindset, uncertain and lacking in confidence.
Statistics: 322 runs. Average: 32.20. H.S: 89
5 wickets. Average: 46.80. BBI: 2/27
The England captain was in rare form ahead of the plane ride down under but again, looked flustered by the occasion on his third tour of Australia, beginning the series with a duck at the hands of Josh Hazlewood.
Root, who finished 2021 with the third most prolific year of any Test match batter ever, put together some strong starts, including a high score of 89 in the second innings at the Gabba, Australia’s smart bowling led to Root being dismissed caught behind the wicket in eight of his 10 dismissals for the series.
As captain, Root was criticised heavily throughout the series for his defensive decision-making and looks poised to lose or relinquish his position, with a very poor win-loss record over the past two years despite his want to remain in the post as captain.
Statistics: 236 runs. Average: 23.60. H.S: 66
4 wickets. Average: 71.50. Economy: 4.50. BBI: 3/113
Both English and Australian fans were delighted when the news broke that Ben Stokes made himself available for this series after coming off a break from cricket and a bad hand injury.
Unfortunately, we never got to see the best of Stokes. He struggled with niggles during the first two Tests at the Gabba and Adelaide Oval and looked hampered and increasingly hobbled as the series wore on.
He struggled with the bat and was unable to play his natural aggressive best due to England continually finding themselves under pressure on most occasions when he came out to bat.
In Sydney, while bowling the star all-rounder suffered a side strain. In both innings’, Stokes scored 60+ runs, showing the aggressive nature we expect from him.
He played in Hobart solely as a batter and struggled again with the bat, making four and five runs in England’s two batting innings’.
Statistics: 194 runs. Average: 48.5. H.S: 113
He might have only played in two Tests this series, but Bairstow was still one of England’s best batters at both the MCG and the SCG.
He showed class, balance, and power when no other English player (bar Joe Root) did, as well as scoring a super impressive hundred in Sydney with a broken thumb.
Despite missing the final Test due to injury, Bairstow has shown he still has a game and a place for the England Test side, if he is spared from the forensic post-mortem at the end of this series.
Statistics: 67 runs. Average: 11.16. H.S: 35
Pope came into the series as England’s most promising youngster, showing glimpses of why when he compiled a solid 35 after coming to the crease at 4/29 at the Gabba.
From here on, Pope failed to reach 15 in his next five innings’, being left out of the side for matches at the MCG and the SCG.
England will hope a series such as the one Pope has had will not deter him from pushing to be the side’s future star, as many had earmarked him to be only a couple of years ago.
Just one century from his first 40 career Test innings’ will again raise questions over whether the pressure has become too much for Pope to cut it at the next level.
Statistics: 107 runs. Average: 15.28. H.S: 39.
12 catches, 0 stumpings
Coming into the Ashes series, Jos Buttler had retained his place as England’s preferred red-ball gloveman for at least the last couple of seasons.
However, having still yet to properly establish himself in the Test arena both with the bat and with the gloves, Buttler was unable to play his natural game, typically coming out to bat when the English were under pressure. The wicketkeeper-batter top-scored in England’s disastrous first innings at the Gabba, with 39 runs.
He gave his side the best possible chance of securing the draw in Adelaide, facing 207 deliveries on the final day before he stepped on his stumps. The right-handed batter flew home after the Sydney Test after sustaining a broken finger.
In Melbourne and Sydney, the right-handed batter regularly gave his wicket away at crucial times when the English were trying to rebuild.
His performance behind the stumps in this series will be considered a mixed bag, taking 12 catches in four matches. However, despite taking spectacular catches to remove Marcus Harris in Adelaide, there were several times across this series where the 31-year-old dropped regulation catches for a wicketkeeper.
Statistics: 30 runs. Average: 15.00. H.S: 29.
5 catches, 0 stumpings
Wicketkeeper Sam Billings made his Test debut in unusual circumstances, being called away from the BBL and Sydney Thunder to join the England squad for the final Test in Hobart, with both Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow suffering hand injuries in the fourth Test.
Billings added some much-needed energy behind the stumps which England had been missing throughout the series and it paid dividends, with England getting off to a fantastic start in the first innings, having Australia at 3/12 early.
Billings did not get to show off his glovework until the second innings, where he took five catches and looked composed behind the stumps.
His first-innings batting performance was solid considering the pitch was bowler-friendly, scoring England’s third-highest score of that innings with a 29 off 48 balls.
His second innings much like the rest of England’s was forgettable, only scoring one run off nine balls before hitting one straight to midwicket and into the hands of Pat Cummins off Scott Boland’s bowling.
Statistics: 6 wickets. Average: 55.33. Economy: 3.74. BBI: 2/64
146 runs. Average: 24.33. H.S: 44
Chris Woakes found bowling in Australia tough once again. Picked in the XI for the Gabba on a pitch with conditions much as he would experience back in England, the all-rounder struggled to find his line and length early.
He was picked to help strengthen the visitors’ lower order and the 32-year-old made handy contributions with the bat in hand. Making 44 runs off 119 balls, helping Jos Buttler attempt to hold on for the draw in Adelaide along with a nice 36 in England’s first batting innings in Hobart.
Woakes has a phenomenal bowling record at home but struggles when touring away, which was again bared across the three matches he played on this tour.
Statistics: 11 wickets. Average 25.54. Economy 2.64. BBI 3/58
Coming into this Ashes series, Ollie Robinson was an unknown player to the Australian players and public.
Early on, Robinson could have been considered England’s best bowler, he was able to consistently trouble the Australian batters with his height, line, and length.
The seaming wicket and conditions in Hobart on day one replicated conditions Robinson might experience back home in England, and he took full advantage of them, removing David Warner and Steve Smith for ducks.
The 28-year-old finished the tour with 11 wickets, at an average of 25.54. One thing the right-arm medium-fast bowler will need to improve is his fitness if he wants to continue playing at the highest level, as he suffered many niggling injuries requiring him to repeatedly come from the field and miss matches.
Statistics: 17 wickets. Average 26.64. Economy 3.73. BBI 6/37
Unlike many of his teammates, Mark Wood was one of very few England players to enhance his reputation on this tour down under, finishing with just four fewer wickets than leading bowler of the series Pat Cummins.
His blistering pace was arguably the only time the Australian’s looked truly flustered throughout the series, with this all culminating in his 6/37 performance in the third innings of Hobart.
It is rare that an Englishman leaves Australia with the home supporters in his camp, however, that is exactly what Wood has done. The effort that he puts into every ball no matter the situation left even the Australians happy that he got his due rewards.
Whilst he did get over a third of his wickets in the final innings of the series, he deserved to take many more throughout the entire Ashes so that can’t be held against him. He was certainly England’s pick of the bowlers.
Statistics: 13 wickets. Average: 26.3. Economy: 2.88. BBI: 5/101
He’s been a terrific servant for England in any Ashes series, and it was no different this time around for the colourful Broad.
Coming off a calf injury heading into the series, he played only the three Tests. However, he made an impact in all, continuing to trouble David Warner and causing problems among the Australian top order. In the last Test in Hobart, he also became England’s highest wicket-taker in the Ashes.
It might well be his last series down under, but he continued to show why he’s one of the greatest seam bowlers in Test cricket.
Statistics: 6 wickets. Average: 53.50. Economy: 4.34. BBI: 4/84
Australian conditions aren’t typically great for touring spinners, and Jack Leach’s performances in this series continue that statement.
Leach was put under pressure immediately at the Gabba, as the Australian batters came out on a mission to do exactly that. While he managed to take a solitary wicket, Leach was quite expensive, conceding 102 runs at an economy of 7.84.
The left-arm orthodox was then left out in Adelaide on a pitch that took some turn. Leach returned for the Tests in Melbourne and Sydney but was used defensively and the Australians were able to milk runs.
The 30-year-old bowled his best on day four in Sydney in the latter part of Australia’s second innings, removing Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne early in the innings.
Later in the day, Leach removed Cameron Green and Alex Carey, missing out on the hat-trick with Australia declaring straight after Carey’s dismissal. Leach finished the innings with his best figures of the series, 4/84 off 21.5 overs.
He was left out for Hobart, with England opting to go with the four quick bowlers on the green, seaming wicket at Bellerive Oval.
Statistics: 8 wickets. Average: 23.37. Economy: 1.79. BBI: 4/33
In what will most certainly be James Anderson’s last Ashes series in Australia, Anderson showed why he’s still such a class act.
The 39-year-old missed the first Test at the Gabba as a precaution. but returned for the day-night Test in Adelaide and the following two matches at the MCG and SCG before missing out in Hobart due to injury.
The right-arm bowler turned back the clock in Melbourne, where on day two he bowled a 10 over spell which included six maidens.
During that spell, Anderson conceded eight runs and took the key wicket of Steve Smith, while also beating the bat and finding the edge on several occasions as well.
Anderson leaves Australia and the series with eight wickets, finishing in the top 10 wicket-takers in the series.
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