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Ashes Analysis: How Australia retained the urn

A look at the major events in the first four Tests.

Australia have retained the Ashes after victory in the fourth Test against England at Old Trafford.

Here, the PA news agency looks at where the series was won and lost.

Steve Smith

England v Australia – Fourth Test – Day Four – 2019 Ashes Series – Emirates Old Trafford
Steve Smith has been in sparkling form (PA)

The Australia batsman has been on a different level to every other player in the series. Returning to the side after suspension following a very public humiliation and loss of the captaincy last year, the 30-year-old has simply been outstanding. Scores of 144, 142, 92, 211 and 82 are not just brilliant but Bradman-esque. Perhaps the series would have been over earlier had he been fit for the third Test at Headingley.

Absence of James Anderson

James Anderson File Photo
The absence of James Anderson did not help England's cause (PA)

England's all-time leading wicket-taker managed to bowl just four overs in the series before suffering a recurrence of a calf injury. With him off the field England struggled to remove the tail when in a position of dominance at Edgbaston and have missed his new-ball brilliance since. Jofra Archer has come in and done well and Stuart Broad has been England's best bowler of the series, but the attack would have been more potent with Anderson too.

Failure to capitalise on strong position in first Test

England v Australia – First Test – Day Four – 2019 Ashes Series – Edgbaston
England made a great start at Edgbaston (PA)

England made a brilliant start to the series as they reduced Australia to 122 for eight on the first day at Edgbaston. It was then, however, that Smith took charge cracking his first century of the summer while Peter Siddle offered stubborn resistance at the other end. England did recover to claim a first innings lead but it was a missed opportunity and they eventually lost by 251 runs.

Missing out at Lord's

England v Australia – Fourth Test – Day Two – 2019 Ashes Series – Emirates Old Trafford
Marnus Labuschagne played his part at Lord's (PA)

England put themselves in a strong position in the second Test but were unable to bowl Australia out in the second innings despite them losing Steve Smith to a concussion injury. His replacement Marnus Labuschagne hit a battling half-century and Travis Head a defiant unbeaten 42 as the tourists held out for a draw.

Bad day in the field in Manchester

England v Australia – Fourth Test – Day Four – 2019 Ashes Series – Emirates Old Trafford
A Jack Leach no ball was costly (PA)

Smith was again outstanding at Old Trafford but England did not help themselves at times in the field and let Australia, with 497 for six declared, score too many in the first innings. Conditions were unpleasant on the first day but Archer was ineffective, catches were dropped and Jack Leach overstepped to his cost when he had Smith caught on a no ball.

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The ever-loveable Steve Smith in action for Australia on September 8, 2019
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