Day four in Hobart was one of potentially beautiful batting conditions, the sun shining as the ferries pootled in and out of Brooke Street Pier on the shimmering harbour and tourists wandered around Salamanca Square with barely a care in the world.
Unfortunately for England’s cricketers the Ashes series was already over, with their surrender of 10 for 56 under lights the previous evening at Bellerive Oval leaving two days of soul-searching before the flight home. There were a couple of escapees, at least. As promised upon answering the SOS , Sam Billings was jetting offto the Caribbean to play for the T 20 team while Dawid Malan was hastily en route to the UK after missing the birth of his first child due to an unexpected but thankfully complication-free early arrival.
The rest, however, were left to chew over the past seven weeks while Australia basked in the afterglow of a job clinically done. There was also an appreciation of England travelling over during a pandemic from the home side too, Marnus Labuschagne making this point on Twitter alongside a nice picture of Mark Wood celebrating his demise in Sydney.
It goes down as the friendliest men’s Ashes in recent times – two likeable captains in Joe Root and Pat Cum mins deserve credit for that – but what recriminations follow from an English perspective remain to be seen. There has been much talk of systemic issues with the sport back home. So, too, the draining effects of bubble life. But while these are undoubtedly true, and few expected England to regain the urn when the squad was announced in October, it was hard not to think that a better-run side might have offered a closer contest .
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