Bizarre scenes as strangest of Ashes series comes to a close

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Pat Cummins (pictured right) during an Ashes press conference and (pictured left) Nathan Lyon bowling to a tight field.
The Ashes series against England has thrown up some bizarre and fantastic moments. (Getty Images)

This has been the strangest of Ashes series, right down to the last Test playing out on a seaming Bellerive deck under lights where packing three layers of clothing is mandatory.

We were, of course, meant to be at Perth's sun-drenched take-your-shirt-off Optus Stadium, but Covid and Mark McGowan thought differently.

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It's a fitting final chapter for a series that has thrown down road spikes just when you thought things were motoring along okay.

What odds would you have given us this time last month, heading into the fifth Test, Usman Khawaja would emerge as Australia's newborn opener with a song by Paul Kelly penned in his honour.

Or Mitchell Starc and not Josh Hazlewood would prove to be our fast-bowling ironman and a country would be sweating on the fitness of a bloke by the name of Scott Boland?

Under normal circumstances (in a Covid, injury and scandal-free world), Khawaja, Boland and Alex Carey would be either running the drinks or on BBL duty interstate.

And T20 specialist Sam Billings would be clearing boundaries in Bridgetown, Barbados, instead of preparing to make his Test debut as England's third or fourth-choice wicket-keeper due to a queue of injured gloveman.

Flexibility needs to be packed with your pads and bats in these crazy times, alongside resilience.

Cracks showing in England squad

The Poms no doubt have had the worst of it and been on the road – and in a bubble – for longer than just about any international team you care to name.

The cracks are obvious – both mentally and physically – but they have dragged themselves to the finish line buoyed by the fight they showed in Sydney and determined to pinch a Test in the most England-like conditions in Australia.

Australia's challenges haven't been as great but there have been hurdles all the same, right from the moment they lost skipper Tim Paine to the sexting scandal through to Travis Head's Covid lay-off, Hazlewood's injury and continued conjecture over the opening position.

Travis Head (pictured) bats during day two of the Third Test match in the Ashes series between Australia and England.
Travis Head (pictured) bats during day two of the Third Test match in the Ashes series between Australia and England. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The future of coach Justin Langer has also been the subject of much debate and will rage for the next few weeks.

A decision on the boss will be taken in due course but a move has been made on the openers, with Khawaja confirmed as Warner's partner.

It leaves Marcus Harris out in the cold for now and there may not be a way back in for some time.

Then again, it would be easier catching a fly with chopsticks than predicting the future with any level of certainty.

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