After losing the opportunity to regain the Ashes, England were able to salvage some pride with a consolatory win in the final Ashes Test at The Oval in London. It prevents a series defeat at home for the Three Lions which would have been even more devastating.
Australia, riding high on Steve Smith's performances and the efforts of their bowlers, finally ran out of gas at the final stop on their tour of the British Isles. As the dust settles at The Oval, post-mortem of this match would begin.
Hence, let's look at the 4 main reasons why the Aussies suffered a defeat in the final Test despite having the momentum with them.
Disaster waiting to happen
It is clear if one looks at the scoreboards from this series that Australians were sooner or later going to have serious problems with their batting. Throughout this series, it has been the brilliance of Smith that has rescued the Aussie innings from trouble. While the best batsman in the world got 80 in the first innings, he could not prevent his team from failing to get a first innings lead.
Despite the Bradmanesque form of Smith, he was bound to have a failure and when it came, it exposed the fragility and weakness of the Australian batting.
It is hard to make sense of why Tim Paine decided to bowl first on a flat Oval wicket. Any batting line-up which is vulnerable struggles when chasing a first innings score. That is what happened to Australia. The only justification for Paine's decision could be that he trusted his bowlers to jolt England early.
But the hosts are not without quality in batting. On top of that, the conditions were in batsmen's favour. The Aussie bowlers had bowled their hearts out in the fourth Test and just three days later, were on field again. All these factors combined to turn Paine's decision into a very regrettable one for his team.
Joe Root has been criticised in this series for overusing Jofra Archer. But despite his heavy workload, the English pacer turned up at Oval raring to go and produced a first-innings performance that dealt a decisive blow to Australia. He removed the openers and thereby, prevented the dangerous David Warner from regaining any sort of form. Without his pace and hostility, England would have found it difficult to contain Australia.
Denly rises to the occasion
England's batting in this series has been as fragile, if not more, than that of Australia. But in Joe Denly, they managed to find one very prominent streak of silver-lining in that department. The right-hander showed good quality and has emerged as the solid opener that England have been seeking for a long time. His contributions in both the innings proved key in his team's victory.