The fifth and final Test of the Ashes series gave cricket fans an exhilarating display of talent and tenacity as England, led by Ben Stokes, fought tooth and nail to secure a memorable victory. Facing a daunting target of 384, Australia seemed poised to pull off an improbable win at 264-3. However, a dramatic collapse in the final innings saw them lose their last seven wickets for 70 runs, handing England a thrilling 49-run victory and drawing the series 2-2.
After the pulsating conclusion to the series, former England captain Michael Vaughan did not hold back in his criticism of Australia’s approach. Vaughan said there would be more questions about Pat Cummins’ captaincy method than Ben Stokes’. He believed that Australia appeared overly concerned about England’s capabilities, which led them to forget their strengths and play in a fearful and attritional manner.
“This Ashes has ended up as a 2-2 draw, but of the two captains, there will be far more questions about Pat Cummins’ method than Stokes’. Meanwhile, Cummins and Australia have sent a message to England that they’re almost scared of them. They’ve been so worried about what England can do that at times they’ve forgotten about their own strengths,” Vaughan wrote in his column for The Telegraph.
Vaughan drew an intriguing parallel between the two teams, noting that this summer, England played with the fearless and aggressive approach often associated with Australian cricket, while Australia seemed to adopt the cautious and defensive approach often seen in England cricket during the 1990s. He highlighted the irony of Australia, despite winning the World Test Championship final against India and retaining the Ashes, leaving England with more questions than answers.
Vaughan stated, “So even though they won the World Test Championship final against India and left England with the urn retained, Cummins goes home with more questions than answers. This summer, England played in that Australian way. And Australia has been left looking like England in the 1990s: too attritional and fearful. England have done to Australia what Australia have done to them many times before.”
Vaughan delved into the impact of England’s “Bazball” style of play, which involves aggressive and innovative batting strategies. He opined that Australia appeared spooked by this mode of play, leading them to be too attritional and reactive in the field. By allowing England to dictate the game, Australia failed to assert their strengths and tactics, leading to a challenging and unpredictable series.
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“The tourists have tried, but I think Bazball has spooked them. In the field, they’ve been far too attritional and reactive at times, and they’ve also let England stick to their plans with the ball. We all talk about the batting side of Bazball, but with the ball England have always created new angles and challenges, even on some flat wickets,” he wrote.
Another aspect Vaughan highlighted was England’s ability to create new angles and challenges with the ball, even on flat wickets. England’s bowlers consistently stuck to their plans and brought variety to their deliveries, which played a crucial role in outfoxing the Australian batsmen during the tense final Test.