Australia became the first side to have won every major global cricket trophy after a 209-run rout of India in the World Test Championship final at The Oval.
Victory was a timely boost for Pat Cummins’ men just five days before the start of the first Test against arch rivals England at Edgbaston, with Australia bidding for their first away Ashes series success in 22 years.
Three things we learned from a dominant Australia display in south London …
Boland looks built for England
England know all about Scott Boland after he marked his Test debut aged 32 with a stunning six-wicket second-innings haul in an Ashes clinching-win for Australia on his Melbourne home ground two years ago.
But the seamer may be an even tougher prospect in English conditions.
Test pitches in England usually offer some assistance for seamers such as Boland, with the Dukes ball offering more movement off the surface for longer than the Kookaburra used in red-ball cricket in Australia.
Boland’s ability to make deliveries nip off a good length was evident throughout a WTC final, where he sparked India’s last-day collapse by dismissing Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja in the same over.
“He was just our best bowler all game,” said Australia captain Pat Cummins of Boland. “He didn’t go for many runs and to get two big wickets in an over is just reward for how well he bowled.”
Openers a worry for Australia
If England is a good place for bowlers like Boland, it is also a difficult place for opening batsmen to score runs given the movement on offer to the pacemen.
Australia’s David Warner and Usman Khawaja found runs hard to come by at The Oval and it is now 12 Test innings in England since Australia enjoyed an opening stand of 20 or more.
But with both Steve Smith and Travis Head making first-innings hundreds against India, the lack of contributions from their first-wicket pair did not hurt Australia in the final.
Still, it is asking a lot of their teammates to keep bailing out Warner and Khawaja in a five-match Ashes campaign.
Left-hander Warner, with just one century in his last 34 Test innings, recently unveiled a plan to bow out of red-ball duty for Australia in his hometown of Sydney next year.
But the decision may be made for the 36-year-old by Australia’s selectors if he cannot improve on his form during a drawn 2019 Ashes in England where he averaged under 10.
Lack of preparation costs India?
Pretty much all of India’s side at The Oval, with the exception of veteran batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who had been playing for English county side Sussex, came into this match following stints in the lucrative T20 IPL.
And while Ajinkya Rahane was able to translate his IPL form into significant scores in the final, several fellow top-order India batsmen struggled.
Whether it would have helped India, who have now lost both WTC finals after going down to New Zealand in the inaugural 2021 showpiece, to have played some red-ball warm-up games is open to debate.
India captain Rohit Sharma, speaking after Sunday’s heavy defeat, suggested the WTC ought to be decided in a three-games series, while there have also been calls for the introduction of semi-finals.
But quite how these would be fitted into an already-packed international calendar is another issue.
“A three-match series would be nice but it’s about finding a window,” said Rohit.
© Agence France-Presse