Alastair Cook's England now have to win away from home to show they're a great team after 3-2 Ashes victory

  • England reclaimed the Ashes despite an innings defeat in the fifth Test
  • They next face Pakistan in the UAE and No 1-ranked South Africa
  • Captain Alastair Cook deserves a lot of credit for choosing to carry on
  • Australia's batting lost them the series and their selection was poor
  • England remain one-dimensional and need to fit in a frontline spinner

Despite Sunday's defeat, England deserve great credit for winning back the Ashes. At the start of the summer they were being written off - some said they wouldn’t win a single match against New Zealand or Australia.

As we have seen in this Test, the series has taken quite a bit out of the players mentally and some of the guys who haven’t played in a full Ashes series before will be exhausted. So make no mistake, this has been a magnificent performance from a young England side.

A lot of the credit must go to the captain. After losing 5-0 in Australia it would have been easy for Alastair Cook to say ‘Right, I’m going to carry on batting, I’ll become the best England player there’s ever been - someone else can do this job.’

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Alastair Cook is sprayed with champagne as he holds up a replica of the Ashes trophy on Sunday

Alastair Cook is sprayed with champagne as he holds up a replica of the Ashes trophy on Sunday

England won the series 3-2 after their fifth Test defeat at the Kia Oval but now face tough away series

England won the series 3-2 after their fifth Test defeat at the Kia Oval but now face tough away series

Cook deserves a lot of credit for how he's conducted himself with England written off before this series

But he took the hard decision to carry on. He’s stubborn but very resilient and I think he enjoys proving people wrong. Cook was under a lot of pressure after the one-day series against New Zealand, with Eoin Morgan being praised for his captaincy and young guns smashing the ball everywhere. That’s why winning the first Test was vital.

I don’t believe series are won and lost on one moment but Brad Haddin dropping Joe Root in Cardiff was huge. Root’s hundred calmed everything down, bought Cook time and helped continue the momentum from the one-dayers.

Australia have ended up with three of the top four run- scorers and four of the top five wicket-takers this series but when England’s players have shone, they’ve produced match-winning performances.

Look at James Anderson’s spell at Edgbaston. Cook lost the toss but there was something in the pitch and Anderson found it with his wobble-seam deliveries. 

Then at Trent Bridge, with Anderson out injured, Cook put Australia in, needing Stuart Broad to deliver on that first morning - and he did.

Although not playing in the fifth Test, spearhead Jimmy Anderson was integral in England's Ashes victory

Although not playing in the fifth Test, spearhead Jimmy Anderson was integral in England's Ashes victory

Cook drinks from the crystal Ashes trophy on Sunday afternoon as celebrations ramped up 

Cook drinks from the crystal Ashes trophy on Sunday afternoon as celebrations ramped up 

Stuart Broad, a star with the ball especially at Trent Bridge, sprays his skipper with champagne on the field

Stuart Broad, a star with the ball especially at Trent Bridge, sprays his skipper with champagne on the field

I also think England have selected well while Australia haven’t. Why bring Shane Watson and Haddin if you’re only going to play them in one Test? 

They brought Mitch Marsh in, then took him out, and waited until the Ashes were lost before playing Peter Siddle.

England are still a little one-dimensional. The attack is brilliant when there is swing and seam. But when the pitch is flatter they look unsure how to get 20 wickets. 

They must work out how to get a frontline spinner in, and they need an opening batsman to partner Cook. 

All-rounder Ben Stokes and the pick of England's batsmen Joe Root give a salute to the cameras 

All-rounder Ben Stokes and the pick of England's batsmen Joe Root give a salute to the cameras 

Cook (right) shakes hands with retiring Australian captain Michael Clarke after the visitors went out with a win

Cook (right) shakes hands with retiring Australian captain Michael Clarke after the visitors went out with a win

Australia's celebrations are muted as victory in this Test couldn't make up for the fact they lost the series

Australia's celebrations are muted as victory in this Test couldn't make up for the fact they lost the series

Alex Hales has potential and could prove a great foil for Cook, who showed on Saturday that there is still room for a proper, old-fashioned Test player. Let’s not get carried away with playing an ‘attacking brand’ of cricket.

Australia’s batting has lost them this series. In the first Test, they were reckless in the second innings and it rained on the fifth day when the match was over. If they’d batted sensibly they could have got a draw and might still have the urn now.

But playing away is a problem for most sides at the moment. If England want to be No 1, that’s the next frontier.

Winning the Ashes is for the nation but if they want to go down as world class, they have to win away from home.

STORY OF THE SERIES

FIRST TEST, CARDIFF, JULY 8-11

Joe Root makes 134 and England post 430. Australia reply with 308 and England set them 412 to win. Moeen Ali takes three wickets and England win by 242 runs.

England 1 Australia 0

 

SECOND TEST, LORD'S, JULY 16-19

Australia rack up 566-8dec thanks to Steve Smith (215) and Chris Rogers (173). England are bowled out for 312 and the visitors set them 509 to win. Australia win by 405 runs.

England 1 Australia 1

 

THIRD TEST, EDGBASTON, JULY 29-31

James Anderson takes six for 47 and Steven Finn adds two. Australia are out for 136. England make 281 and are set 121 to win. Bell, up to No 3, sees England home with 65.

England 2 Australia 1

 

FOURTH TEST, TRENT BRIDGE, AUGUST 6-8

Australia are bundled out for 60 with Stuart Broad taking 8-15. England declare on 391-9 after a Root ton. The tourists struggle to 253 and the Ashes are coming home.

England 3 Australia 1

 

FIFTH TEST, THE OVAL, AUGUST 20-23

Australia make 481 after a masterclass from Smith (143); England limp to 149 in reply. Following on, Alastair Cook toughs it out for 85 but England go down by an innings and 46 runs.

England 3 Australia 2

 

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