Australia secured a consolation victory in the final test by an innings and 46 runs on 23 August, before England captain Alastair Cook lifted the Ashes urn at the end of a dramatic and fluctuating series. Australia skipper Michael Clarke celebrated an emphatic win on a rain-disrupted fourth day of his final test match, Peter Siddle proving the inspiration with figures of 4-35 as England were bowled out for 286 at The Oval.
I dont feel any different, said Clarke. So that to me means it hasnt hit me yet. The focus and goal leading up to the test was to do everything in my power to prepare as well as I could and help the team win the test match. Once the game starts it is all about trying to win. When I woke up this morning I thought today I might have felt it a little bit more. I felt it might have been quite emotional walking off the field for the last time or being out there fielding. Fortunately which is very rare I have been able to hold my emotions in. It is nice. Yes it is the end of my career and I am very fortunate to have played as much as I have for Australia, This is not about me. What I want is people to see, the Australian public in particular, to see the fighting side to this changing room, to show yes, we have let ourselves down through the series, but there is still talent and hunger to have success in that changing room.
Australia found success on the two most batting friendly surfaces of the summer at Lords and the Oval, but were undone, in particular, at Nottingham and Birmingham on green tracks that were typically English in the way they played.
All summer there has been debate about whether England doctored pitches to suit their swing and seam attack, and Clarke said he would like groundsmen to be entirely neutral in their approach to preparing wickets.
Id like to see groundsmen around the world – not just here – have the courage to go with what they think is a good cricket wicket, he said. I think weve seen in the first two Test matches a lot of talk from the media and the commentators about how flat the wickets were, yet those two Test matches were over in four days. One team won and one team lost. The next three are over in two and a half and three days. I think Test cricket is a five-day battle. I want to see good and fair cricket for both batters and bowlers. I think thats the way the game should be played – and, most importantly, I want to see a winner and a loser. But if the groundsman feels he knows how to produce a good wicket that will be a great battle of Test match cricket then Id like to see them back themselves and go with that and not be persuaded by whats said in the media or what the commentators say.
Meanwhile, Cook could not conceal his delight at winning the series 3-2 after losing 5-0 in Australia in 2013-14. I think we probably underestimated the emotional high at Trent Bridge how much that affected us, he said. We would have loved to sat here at 4-1 rather than 3-2, that is obvious. You can kind of understand in a little way. All the time in Spain it was all about winning three games and the mind has such a powerful effect on you as a player. We talked about that, there will be days when you lose but it is how you bounce back from that. For the first four games we were fantastic but we were off the pace in this game. Credit to Australia they showed what a good side they are and the character in their side. It is a little bit disappointing but I am not going to worry about it too much tonight, to be brutally honest.
After the loss, Englands number three Ian Bell hinted that he might be contemplating retirement, even though he is just 33. However, Cook said he still had a big role to play in the team.
He is a wonderful player, a class player, he said. I think such an emotional time in the last 10 days in terms of emotional highs, what we have just experienced there. I think everyone is pretty tired as well. I think it is sensible...what you say in interview now is not what you believe deep down. I have not heard exactly what Belly has said. But He is a class player and I hope is around for a few more years.