Top Five Moments – World in Sport

Updated 2 Aug 2023 4:40 pm:

The 2023 Ashes is finally over, and despite England levelling the Series 2-2, Australia manages to keep hold of the Urn. What Series it has been, and World In Sport is here to pick the five defining moments.

5. Cummins and Lyon Make England Pay

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With Australia 227-8 and chasing a target of 281, the finishing line was in sight for England, who just needed two good pieces of cricket two win the first Test.

Getting rid of the tail is never easy these days, especially when they are also fighting to win the match.

What was even more bizarre about the final hour of the first Test, was the fact that James Anderson or Captain Ben Stokes, who got the crucial wicket of Usman Khawaja, bowled a single over in the final hour of the match, and chose to bowl Ollie Robinson, who had played just 16 matches prior to this Series, and had only featured in just seven Ashes Test matches.

And considering Stokes took himself out of the attack after getting the in-form Khawaja out at 207-7, could he not have been able to stay on for one or two more overs, just to see if he could nip out another wicket, even though he was worried about his knee.

Alternatively, he could have gone with the experience of Jame Anderson, who also did not bowl in that final hour.

England’s choice not to go with their premier, in-form bowlers at that time, was a costly mistake, as Australia’s Captain and Nathan Lyon took advantage of some inconsistent bowling from the rest of England’s bowling attack.

4.. Bairstow’s Bizzare Run Out

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With England 193-5 chasing 371, the onus was on Bairstow to stitch together a partnership that would help them inch closer to victory in the second Test at Lord’s.

However, without having confirmed with the umpires that the ball was dead and that it was the end of the over, the England Wicketkeeper-Batsman ventured out of the crease, and Alex Carey threw the ball at the stumps, therefore Bairstow was adjudged to have been run out by the Australian Wicketkeeper, according to the Third Umpire.

Even though Stokes’s heroic knock of 155 gave England a sniff of an unlikely victory, you just got the sense that if Bairstow had been able to spend some time at the crease, things may have turned out to be different, especially after Ben Duckett’s dismissal.

Usually, it is the Umpire who signals the end of the over, and perhaps Bairstow ignored the umpire or forgot to wait for him to declare that the ball was dead.

What was so amusing was the fact that after the incident, Stuart Broad, who was the next man in, sarcastically asked the Umpire if he could leave the crease.

Even though some people, particularly England fans are declaring it is against the spirit of the game, you have got to say that it was just lazy cricket from England’s Wicketkeeper Batsman, who should have confirmed with the umpire that the ball was dead before deciding to leave the crease.

3. Wood And Woakes Re-Energise England

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After losing the first two Tests, it was clear that the team was lacking some spark, particularly in their bowling. After getting selected for the third Test, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes picked up 33 wickets in the last three Tests, at an average of 18.16, and 20.21, which was better than Ollie Robinson’s 10 scalps at 28.40, and Josh Tongue, who took just five wickets at only 30.20.

Wood and Woakes gave England an extra dimension to their bowling attack, which gave Stokes the luxury to rest and rotate his two senior bowlers in Broad and Anderson. Also, this was a chance for Stokes to asses his future new ball-bowler options, now that Broad has retired, and Anderson is coming to the twilight period of his career at the age of 41.

At the age of 34 and with 48 Test appearances, Woakes certainly looks like he could be leading the attack in the future. It is just whether he can adapt to conditions away from home.

If he can do that, he has the potential of becoming one of the best bowlers in the world in all formats.

As for Wood, you just hope that England looks after him, and make sure that he stays fit, as England will need him, particularly on overseas tours, or when conditions favour reverse swing bowling.

2. Smith Unable to dominate

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Prior to 2023, England’s nemesis with the bat had been the former Australian Captain, who had tormented England in the previous Ashes Series.

774 runs in 2019, it was clear that to stand a chance of restricting Australia to a low score, They would have to think of ways of getting him out.

But what was really good to see was that they had a plan to predominantly bowl outside off stump with a leg-side field to block off his favourite scoring options, and make him work against the line of the ball. They also used the short ball ploy to good effect.

Even though he scored 373 runs in the Series, it wasn’t as impactful as the last Series, as he only scored one hundred, which was the 110 at Lord’s.

England’s strategy to Smith forced him to play shots that were unnatural to him in the sense that he wouldn’t usually play them.

1. Broad Bows Out In Style

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604 wickets in 167 Test matches, not a bad career is it? Like his father Chris, Stuart Broad began his career as an opening batsman and then switched to fast bowling at the age of 17.

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He was still a handy lower-order batsman when he made his international debut in a white-ball Series against Pakistan in 2006, before scoring a Test century against them at Lords in 2010.

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Along with his batting, his bowling started to get better and better over the years, and his most memorable spell was 8-15, which he took on the first innings of the 4th Ashes Test at his home ground Trent Bridge in 2015.

“Tomorrow or Monday will be my last game of cricket. It’s been a wonderful ride, a huge privilege.” “I knew deep down that I wanted to finish playing cricket at the very top,” “Part of me wanted to know that I could still do it. I’ve had a love affair with the Ashes my whole life and the thought of being able to bowl my last ball against Australia is something that fills me with joy. So that’s come to fruition. And it’s been the most enjoyable series, the most entertaining series, the most edge-of-the-seat series that I can remember. I just feel in a fantastic place as a player, as a person, and just feel very happy and content at the moment.”

Broad: The Guardian

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Over the past decade, Broad formed a formidable partnership with Anderson(40), taking 1,294 wickets in 140 Test matches together. What was also fitting was the fact that he took the last wicket of Todd Murphy, to help England square the Ashes 2-2. But with the 37-year-old retiring, it will be interesting to see how long it will be before the King of Swing(Anderson) decided to hang up his bowling boots.

So these are World In Sport‘s top 5 Ashes moments, let us know yours.

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