London: There was rain in the air. It was in the way of Australia nipping out the last four England wickets on their way to a consolation win. But to England’s disappointment, it didn’t rain long enough or hard enough.
Australia removed the two overnight batsmen — Mark Wood and Jos Buttler — before play was stopped for nearly three hours. Soon after resumption, Peter Siddle, the man Australia carried through the entire tour without giving a Test till the meaningless dead rubber, dismissed the remaining two wickets and the curtains came down on 2015 Ashes. Australia won by an innings and 46 runs but England carried the urn 3-2.
In a series that had swung from one side to another without any rhyme or reason, it was probably fitting that the fast bowler who had a lot of experience of bowling in England, including at Nottingham, wasn’t picked by Australia till the irrelevant end of the series. Siddle has always been the uncomplaining, menacing workhorse but Australia were seduced by the youth and extra yard of pace of Josh Hazlewood. Even after it became clear in Edgbaston that Hazlewood had lost the control and the bowling form, Australia persisted with him even as Siddle continued to warm the benches. The fact that Siddle had played on the wicket at Trent Bridge, for the home county of Nottinghamshire, did not seem to sway the Australians and they paid dearly.
Of course, this is not to say that Siddle would have changed the course of the series. When a team sent out to bat musters only 60 runs in their first innings, no bowler of any ability could change the result of a Test match. However, the moment Australia missed Siddle the most was in Edgbaston after they were dismissed for 136 runs in the first dig. None of their fast bowlers exerted the control Australia needed to test the English batsmen under what where still very good bowling conditions. Mitchells – Starc and Johnson – and Hazlewood went well over four runs an over, and the control that Clarke desperately needed was missing. Well, it was actually sitting in the dressing room.
Australia, despite a poor first innings, had a brief window open for them with England 190 for 7, but their bowlers lost their way as Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad put together 87 of the series deciding runs. Australia were left to wonder what could have been. The window was shut as even an improved second innings batting couldn't turn the tide.
With a return of 6-67 at The Oval, Siddle just highlighted one of the many mistakes that Australia made in the series. Michael Clarke has sailed off in to his retirement without ever tasting success in England – as a player or captain – but now has all the time to ponder what might have if only Siddle were there with him in Edgbaston to throw the ball to. Few days later, Broad put the boot in with a blistering spell of 8 for 15, and that was all she wrote, for Australia.