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Cricket: Ashes series review

Another epic Ashes battle is over and although Australia return home with the urn, they will be disappointed not to have won the series outright.

England fought back from 2-0 down to draw the series 2-2, and Australia will have mixed emotions despite retaining the Ashes.

Pat Cummins and his team were desperate to be the first Australian side since 2001 to win an Ashes series in England, and it looked to be on the cards after the first two Tests.

However they allowed England back into the series, which finished with honours even after another gripping match at the Oval in London.

Australia will have taken a lot out of the series and on the whole will be delighted to have the urn in their possession still.

Let’s take a look back at the series as a whole.

Lyon was sorely missed

There were a number of pivotal moments throughout the five Test matches, but the loss of Nathan Lyon through injury was huge.

It is no real coincidence that Australia took a 2-0 series lead with him in the side, then drew the third and lost the last two without him.

Australia have a fearsome pace attack, but they need the support of Lyon, and he was sorely missed.

There were times when England dominated with the bat and Cummins did not know how to stop them. Usually he would throw the ball to Lyon and the game would change.

Replacement Todd Murphy gave his all when selected but filling the shoes of Lyon is an impossible task.

Cummins future doubts

It is hard to criticise an Australian skipper who has retained the Ashes on English soil, but Cummins has had his critics during the series.

There were times when he looked to have no answers to England’s aggressive batting approach and his field placings and tactics were called into question.

It is far from easy trying to skipper the side as a pace bowler, and there have been suggestions he could pass the baton on once the dust settles.

Cummins had his moments though and of course played a crucial captains’ innings when guiding his side to victory in the opening Test at Edgbaston.

Lack of partnerships cost Aussies

Australia’s failure to build some big batting partnerships also cost them during the last three Tests.

They looked to be in control in their second innings at the Oval when a rare partnership between David Warner and Usman Khawaja got them off to a great start.

However after they were dismissed, Australia failed to kick on. They were crying out for a big partnership to get them over the line but it never came. The last six wickets fell for just 60 runs.

There were some impressive performances with the bat. Khawaja was the biggest success story for Australia as he scored 496 runs throughout the series.

However others failed to deliver on a consistent basis, in particular Warner, but he was not alone and Marnus Labuschagne will be disappointed with his series as a whole.

Starc shines

Mitchell Starc was arguably the pick of the Aussie bowlers and he finished strongly when taking eight wickets in the final Test.

He was expensive at times but always looked a threat and took crucial wickets.

The biggest disappointment would have been the performance of Scott Boland, who ripped England apart in Australia.

Hopes were high he would do the same in England but he struggled with the conditions and was not seen again following the first Test as Josh Hazlewood returned to the side.

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