England’s dreams of a first Ashes title since 2015 ended with a scrappy fourth Test at Old Trafford on Sunday. Bad weather was forecast before the start of the competition and a washout was the expected result if it went beyond the first three days. With Australia leading the series 2–1 and holding the Ashes, they retained their prestigious title as the match ended in a draw.
While Australia finished on the winning side in the first two Tests in a series that has seen almost every match rise every day, England came back strongly in the third Test and led for most of the fourth. Australia were 214/5 at the end of play, 61 runs behind England’s first innings score, with the hosts clear favorites to win the match had the weather not interfered with proceedings. With the chance to win also lost, a war of words broke out in the media between the English and Australian camps.
Former England captains Michael Wogan, Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton all opined that it was a disappointing way to decide the series.
“It’s no way to retain the Ashes, let’s be honest, but Australia will take it,” Vaughan said on the BBC. “They are in the same situation as they were in 2019. However, this is different. I thought Australia was the best team in 2019. England secured that victory with Ben Stokes’ best-ever innings at Headingley. I know England are 2-1 down in four games, but they were a good team.
Hussain and Atherton said on Sky Sports that it was a cruel way to decide the outcome of the series.
“It’s the worst way to end (England’s chances of reclaiming the Ashes). Two days of rain in July after all we have seen in a terrible series. There was never a dull session. It is frustrating for spectators, spectators and players. “Australia don’t want to keep the Ashes like this,” Hussain said.
Atherton said England were comprehensively beating Australia in the fourth Test. “You can look back at times in the series where England have missed chances without a doubt… but looking at this game, England have completely blown Australia away so far,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Australian camp celebrated their team’s victory, although some admitted that a washout was a poor way to decide Afif in an evenly matched series.
Australia’s bowling legend Merv Hughes got into a verbal spat with British broadcaster Piers Morgan on Twitter that continued after the series ended. Hughes pointed out how Morgan celebrated a washout in 2013 when the Ashes were decided in England’s favour.
Hughes, who was often seen sitting in the stands with Australian fans throughout the series, also responded to several other tweets aimed at him and Australia. He clarified to one such user that he was celebrating Australia retaining the Ashes, not a washout.
Meanwhile, former Australian captain and batting legend Ricky Ponting has stated that England will regret many of the decisions they made in the series, especially their surprise announcement at the end of Day 1 of the first Test despite being 393/8. “I think they will regret what they announced. I think they will regret how much they struggled with the bat in the second innings. A lead of 280 was out in the second innings and if you had asked directly after the loss of the toss, I think you would have been happy to chase 280. I would have taken it,” he told Sky Sports.
Ponting said that while England’s attacking approach under head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes has been characterized by the freedom to bat aggressively, Ponting said the announcement showed how they could ironically be boxed in by the approach. “I’ve said from the start that if they want to play that way, that brand of cricket, they’ve talked about it so much, they’re driving themselves into a corner where they have to play that way,” he said.
“I don’t think they can do it all the time and I think the reason they went 2-0 down after the first two games was because they went hard like they did in the second innings at Edgbaston and lost those wickets with the short ball at Lord’s.”