London: Ashes 2015 has been a long, strange trip. The urn was decided only after the fourth Test, at Trent Bridge, but it needed just 12+ days of cricketing action. It seemed as if that Australia and England made a pact with themselves that there would be no Test when both sides brought their A-game.
Australia's Michael Clarke, left, and Steven Smith leave the field as they break for tea on the first day of the fifth Ashes Test match between England and Australia, at the Oval cricket ground in London. Pic/PTI, AP
When England played well in Cardiff, Australia couldn't wait to collapse to defeat. When Australia bossed at Lord's, England were happy to roll over. And the two Tests that followed, Australia barely even registered as a participant.
Finally, back in London, Australia sorted out their methods of handling the moving ball and piled on a pretty good first innings score after being inserted in, but then England, with the series decided, took on the role of gracious hosts and collapsed in their first innings for just 149, and were all set to lose by innings inside three days.
In all, we would have had just 13 days of cricket in a five Test series. That's plain incompetence by both the teams. The eventual scoreline of 3-2 hides a lot more than it tells us about this bizarro Test series.
That scoreline would usually indicate a closely contested series but this Ashes was neither close nor really contested. It has been one-way traffic throughout with only the direction of traffic changed around at times.
By the numbers, this is how bizarre the series has been: Three of the top three run scorers of the series are Australians including Steve Smith's 508 as the leader and Chris Rogers closely following at 480. Four of the top 5 wicket takers are Australians as well.
So bizarre has this series been that Michael Clarke, who has never taken the opportunity to enforce follow on, decided to invite England to bat again after they finished their first innings 332 runs in arrears.
This was the first time Australia had enforced the follow on since March 2010 against NZ in Wellington. The only redeeming factor about this outrageously bizarre series is that it is ending. Even long, strange trips do end. Mercifully.
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