Brutal Ben Stokes truth rubs salt into England's Ashes wounds

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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  • Ben Stokes
    Ben Stokes
    Cricketer (born 1991)
Ben Stokes has been leapfrogged by Mitchell Starc in the ICC's all-rounder rankings following the Boxing Day Test. (Photo by Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ben Stokes has been leapfrogged by Mitchell Starc in the ICC's all-rounder rankings following the Boxing Day Test. (Photo by Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

England have barely been able conduct a post-mortem on their disastrous Ashes series defeat without another statistic rubbing salt into the wound.

Australia retained the Urn after taking a 3-0 series lead by winning the Boxing Day Test earlier this week, with a whopping victory by an innings and 14 runs.

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The match was a disaster from start to finish for England, with the only high point being a decent spell of bowling during Australia's first innings which saw them only needing to chase 82 runs before they could build a target to defend.

But the combination of several late wickets to close day two and a complete batting collapse early on day three meant the game was over before lunch.

It was an ignominious result which has sparked calls for a serious review into England's Test fortunes.

The visitors had come into the series with high hopes, particularly after it was confirmed that all-rounder Ben Stokes would make his long-awaited return to the Test side after a lengthy absence due to injury and time addressing mental health concerns.

Stokes has been one of England's better performers, particularly with the ball, but even he hasn't been able to escape the consequences of the side's woeful performance in Melbourne.

After just 101 runs across six innings with a top score of 34, and few returns with the ball despite several strong spells, Stokes' place in the all-rounder rankings has fallen to sixth, with Australia's Mitchell Starc climbing to fifth.

Starc's decent tail-end batting was enough to lift him in the rankings, and a harsh reminder of how difficult runs have been to come by for the visitors.

Marnus Labuschagne, despite being dismissed for one in his only innings in the third Test in Melbourne, remains top of the batting rankings ahead of Joe Root who scored 50 and 28. 

However, Steve Smith has dropped a place to fourth, his lowest position since December 2015, behind Kane Williamson.

In the bowling ranks Pat Cummins is still No.1. England's James Anderson improved his Ashes average in Australia to such a degree with 4-33 in Australia's innings that it is now better than his average against Australia in England. He moved up him three places to 5th, above Josh Hazlewood who missed the Test with injury.

Scott Boland's remarkable seven-wicket debut enabled him to make his first appearance in the rankings at 74th.

England coach isolating, out of SCG Ashes Test

The visitors have had their problems compounded further thanks to the small cluster of Covid-19 cases in the travelling party making an impact.

coach Chris SIlverwood will miss the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney after the COVID-19 outbreak in the touring team's camp grew to seven.

Silverwood awoke on Thursday to the news that he had been identified as a close contact, after a family member in the touring party contracted the virus.

The under-fire England coach returned a negative result in the latest round of tests, but will remain in Melbourne and isolate for 10 days.

With the Sydney Test starting on Wednesday, he is not expected to be available for any of the match, when England must attempt to regroup after surrendering the series 3-0 in less than 12 days of cricket.

England head coach Chris Silverwood will be absent for the Sydney Ashes Test after being required to isolate following contact with a Covid-19 case. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
England head coach Chris Silverwood will be absent for the Sydney Ashes Test after being required to isolate following contact with a Covid-19 case. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Batting coach Graham Thorpe is expected to take over as England's head coach in the interim, with their cricket staff now torn apart by the outbreak.

Bowling coach Jon Lewis and spin bowling coach Jeetan Patel are believed to be among others staying behind in Victoria as well as strength and conditioning coach Darren Veness.

The latest case has sparked fears of the outbreak growing again within the England camp.

A member of the family group felt unwell on the night of Boxing Day, and rapid tests the following morning showed a positive case.

The entire touring party was then rapid tested on the morning of day two, with all players returning negatives but a total of four cases found in the tour party.

Those four results were then backed up by PCR tests later that night, providing a further two cases in non-playing members of the group.

Officials continue to cross their fingers that the virus has not spread to the playing group.

With AAP

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