The Ashes 2019 – Fifth Test: The Australian performance we expected, but barely got



It was the Ashes performance away that us Australians had become accustomed to in recent English trips.


For the first time this series, Australia’s entire batting order looked shaky under the duress of swing bowling (yes, this includes Smith), and our bowlers were ineffectual in different conditions.


Following on from day one’s antics, Australia managed to wrap up the tail rather quickly on the second morning. Buttler’s pyrotechnic display was dampened via a terrific Cummins delivery, with the innings being closed up not long afterwards. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing – now the nerves that Warner and Harris sent through Australian viewers was going to be back in full force.


These feelings were warranted – once more the left-handers had no answer for Broad. Both were dismissed easily and quickly after playing relatively simple shots – blocks and cuts. Archer got to Warner before Broad had a real chance, while Harris’ was only a matter of time due to Broad’s knack of getting him out. If it was Harris’ first time falling to Broad then he may be forgiven, but he is currently making simple forward defensives look treacherous and difficult. This could be the last test we see these two batting together at the top of the order.


The onus was once again left to Labuschagne and Smith. The unlikely pair acted as theoretical openers, coming in early and dealing with the new ball aptly. They forged another partnership, averting the tricky low score they were currently on to bring the game back to an even keel. Labuschagne, scoring confidently and quickly, was out-thought by Archer on 48. Despite being set up trying to work off his pads, the little first drop could hold his head high again.


Smith kept going, not reluctant with the record-breaking series he’d already had. More runs were needed, that child-like wish to just keep batting and batting and batting. In 2015, his technique changed forever with his little shuffle across the crease in his Lord’s double century. In 2019, the development of his Caribbean back foot cover drive came to the fore. It was in full flight here, no foot work required for his head to fall perfectly into place; his balance unaffected. This open stance meant he was smacking straight drives past mid-on too – it was scary how he kept developing his game.


Wade, copping some lip from the pissed-off Poms, sought to fight fire with fire. His shots were crisp, measured and defiant. Just as his innings was starting to really become a danger, he fell. From there, it was all down to Smith, as Marsh and Paine both provided minor help. The great one finally fell for 80; a relatively low score for him. Despite some late Lyon blows, Australia had fell to a dismal first innings deficit. Once more, if Smith and Labuschagne didn’t go big consistently then the Aussie batting line-up looked fragile.


In a rare position of dominance for the series, England weren’t going to relinquish this. Denly came out and batted superbly. He was measured and calm, playing smooth shots that looked effortless. Without a point of difference in their bowling attack, the Aussies looked one-trick. Cummins and Hazlewood once again toiled hard, but Siddle just couldn’t find his unerring accuracy that was once his trademark. Marsh continued to bowl the best he had in test match cricket, while Lyon finally found some purchase to snatch some consolation wickets.


Stokes ensured he finished off a heroic summer with some more runs. Buttler continued his late-series resurgence. Australia’s fielding finished on a high – two superb catches in successive balls from Smith and Labuschagne sending the Australian XI off with some optimism. Not for this game, but for the future of this evolving team.


The run chase was never going to be threatened, especially when Warner and Harris left us at 2-20 again. They had no strategy for Broad around the wicket, no way of defending or attacking him. They left it up to the next two again, but Labuschagne had already done everything he could for Australia in the past month or two. He was superbly stumped by Bairstow’s quick hands, after missing a peach of a Leach delivery. No problems there – he was our revelation, Smith’s little buddy.


We all knew it had to happen. Smith finally fell for under 50, to the leg-side trap that India famously claimed to be the best way of getting him out. A terrific Stokes catch sent the dynamo off, barely a boo ringing out anymore. If ever there was a way to silence a parochial crowd, take a look at his series.


Wade took his place. Proving to be Australia’s third most effective batsman (alongside perhaps Head, who was inexplicably left carrying the drinks), the Tasmanian had waited so long for his return to the test arena. His second ton for the series meant he solidified his spot in the side. The century was full of gorgeous drives, easy flicks off the pads and some daring aggressive play that epitomised a player full of belief in his own game. There’s no problems having a sledge from bat-pad if you can back it up with the bat, and Wade has proven he can stoke a fire that only spurs himself on.


As we all suspected it would, the game was quickly finished on the evening of the fourth day. There was no resistance, no motivation to hold the Poms out until day five. The Aussies had the urn still, the English could have a consolation win. One of the better Ashes series in recent memory wrapped up in anti-climactic fashion, yet highlighted how great this competitive bond is. It was a typically Australian performance, but had come after a series that was the opposite of any recent away test efforts. So one flat test can be forgiven when these boys bring home that little urn.




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  1. I’ve got to say, I reckon that was a monumental stuff up by Paine asking England to bat first. An extra day’s rest was needed by the bowlers – after coming off only a 2-3 day break after the 4th test in which we bowled last and obviously partied hard afterwards. This extra day could have also allowed Starc to play. All we needed to do was bat first and post 250 and we were in this game. I know the Ashes are ours, but cripes this is still a test match afterall.

    When you consider that Paine elected to bowl first in the 2nd test as well, and it was only rain that saved us from a certain defeat in that game, it makes it even more perplexing.

  2. This whole match was a monumental stuff up by Australia. Firstly, they should have saved their partying till after the series. Secondly playing Siddle instead of Starc when Marsh was in the side. Then came the biggie – winning the toss and inviting the Poms to bat first – unbelievable. Missed catches and bad reviews followed.

    Then came the usual broadsiding of Warner and cheep dismal of Harris followed by Smith score of 23 and the game was lost. Much thinking by Australia’s selectors to be done

    I would appear both Warner and Paine will remain in the side for the time being but both will need to pull their socks up.

  3. PS Thankfully for me when I got disgusted with what I was seeing I could switch to watching the footy. On a more positive note, Mrs Fisho much prefers me watching cricket as I don’t yell at the football – especially when the Adelaide Crows play.

  4. I don’t understand how Head gets the boot when Langer says performances would be counted. Warner and Harris stayed in the side and Warner set some sort of all-time record for lack of runs by an opener in a Test series! Surely Khawaja could not have done worse as an opener; watching Warner was excruciating, you knew the trapdoor would open, just a question of when.Then Langer says Warner is safe for the start of the next series!

    I have loved Siddle, but surely his time is up, Pattinson sat on his backside for the whole game and must have a bigger future. My view is that Cummins should have been rested for this Test too, although I doubt that would be a popular view; his effort this series in the light of his injury history was outstanding.

    Contrary to what M. Marsh said, I do not hate him and I don’t think most Australians do either, keyboard numbskulls aside. But I sometimes wonder why some blokes get so many more chances than others,

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