And so one of the greatest English cricketing summers come to an end.
The best bit for me? England winning the World Cup? It’s up there. Headingly? Pretty close. England fighting back and drawing the Ashes series late on Sunday evening? Not quite.
For me, it was David Warner’s batting average as an opener making me feel better about my own game.
Sunday started with Shane Warne talking up Warner as having an innings inside him to silence the nay-sayers. To be fair to Warner, he dig in and get his best score of the series – 11.
Sunday ended with Jack Leach, only a week ago being written off as a bowler who shouldn’t be anywhere a Test attack and only getting a game because he can bat better than most of England’s middle order, taking the last two wickets in two balls and ending the series 2-2.
Sure, Australia retain the Ashes but they didn’t win them – and they’d made enough of a song-and-dance about how important that was to them after Old Trafford.
Both sides leave this series with far more questions than answers.
Australia know that Warner is unlikely to ever be that bad again as the next time he faces Stuart Broad in England will probably be in some kind of charity match. The discovery of Marnus and the form of the irritating Matthew Wade – a player who thought it made sense to bring up Bristol when England seemed to have refrained from talking about sandpaper on the field of play – gives them confidence that there are at least some players who can bat around the phenomenal Steve Smith.
And, bowling wise, they’re alright really – aren’t they?
As for England, Joe Denly’s battling 94 hours after his wife gave birth has to see him get a fair crack at number three for the winter tour. Rory Burns has been excellent, potentially stepping into ‘next captain’ territory and actually batted for longer in this Ashes series than Sir Alastair Cook managed in any of his.
Ben Stokes, of course, leaves with his reputation enhanced just a smidgen – but other than those three nobody else has come close to looking a dead cert for future selection.
Except, sadly, they probably will be.
Will the selectors and new coach lose faith in Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and, whisper it quietly, Joe Root between now and the winter tour squad selection? No, they won’t. They have an easy out by dropping Jason Roy now, and that will probably be enough.
We can’t have Buttler and Bairstow in the same side in the winter and it’s probably time for Bairstow to take a bit of a break and let Ben Foakes come in and keep. Dom Sibley is bound to get the nod at the top of the order alongside Burns meaning England might have quite a stable looking top-three, on paper at least.
Root keeps his job having scrambled a draw and bats four, Stokes at five with Buttler at six. Bring in Foakes at seven and then we can argue over what blend of bowling attack we have at another point – that’s not the area of concern (though, I am still staggered that it took until the final Test to throw Sam Curran the ball and see if he could slow Steve Smith down a bit).
This Ashes series does feel like a missed opportunity – bar Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood Australia were there for the taking. Mind you, they could probably say the same for us apart from the incredible Jofra Archer, Stokes, Burns and, so randomly, Leach.
Would I have taken a World Cup and a drawn Ashes series if you’d offered it to me at the start of April?
Damn right I would have.