Cricket

England hand Australia advantage for winter series

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The fifth and final Ashes Test match at The Oval has seen Australia gain a moral victory despite closely avoiding defeat and a comprehensive 3-0 series defeat to England. 

How much will their positive performance at The Oval help to tip the balance of play when England visit Australia later this year?

There is no doubt that an Ashes series down under will be challenging even for an England side who are largely experienced at touring in tough conditions all over the world. England do not want to encourage the Australians further but the display at The Oval looks to have done just that.

England were only given the chance of victory by a sporting declaration from Australian captain Michael Clarke and England were only denied victory by bad light.

England chose to give debuts to Simon Kerrigan and Chris Woakes for the final test which seems to have slightly disjointed the side. Their performances with the ball were not great on day one and the Australians, particularly Shane Watson, took full advantage of it.

Watson bludgeoned his way into form with a savage attack on young spinner Kerrigan before lunch on day one which set a precedent for the Test. Previously Watson had struggled for form and England had found a way to exploit his weaknesses.

There are two schools of thought to England's decision to give two debuts in this Test match. Firstly, as the game is in effect a dead match England probably felt that giving two young guns an opportunity at this level would help their development. However, a more ruthless cricket supporter would want to see England further twist the knife and humiliate the Australians with a 4-0 series victory.

Cricket is quite often a mental battle as well as a physical battle and mental scarring is talked about regularly at the top level. England had Watson battling for his career before this game and many of the Australians were fearing the consequences for their own future careers at the top level. Now Australia have a new sense of optimism.

Have England missed a trick by not being ruthless enough?

Steve Smith is another player who will have been encouraged by his performance. He dominated the England bowling in his own style with an unbeaten century and looks now to have established himself in Australia's middle order, certainly for the return series down under.

England still have the experience, the skills and the talent to defeat the Australians in their own back yard and by exposing youngsters to the heat of an Ashes battle may well prove to be a well judged move but it doesn't feel like that at present.

There is no doubt that England will be favourites when they visit Australia but recent events will have encouraged Michael Clarke, his team and certainly all the Australian supporters who will be baying for blood when the First test begins in November. England will need to up their game.

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Topics:
The Ashes
England cricket
Cricket
Australia cricket

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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