Well it is all over, bar the shouting. England have won the Ashes after a comprehensive nine wicket victory in the first of the three T20s. Fortunately I managed to watch the game before heading off to Colombo in Sri Lanka (from where I write this) where the England Academy are due to play Sri Lanka in two ODIs (technically they should be called 50 over games as they are not full international games, but you knew that) and four T20s.
I don't think I have ever seen Lottie bat as well. Her timing off her legs and cutting was impeccable. It was a joy to watch her bat and she deserves to be rightly applauded for a fantastic achievement - it is only the third time that the Ashes have been won on Aussie soil, and obviously the first in the new multi-format. Her batting seems to be getting better and better. Perhaps it is the better wickets that she is now being allowed to play on or just maturity and experience. Whatever it is I cannot see her giving up the opener's role for sometime to come.
England were lucky that she and Sarah Taylor found such good form at the right time. That is how T20 cricket works - one or two batsmen come off and they win the game for you. I also think the Aussies were wrong to bat first. They should have put England in. As Lottie said she had no idea what a good score was. Everyone thought 150 was a good score, but in fact 180 would have been nearer the mark due to the insanely short boundaries, a great batting wicket and a lightening outfield. I am not a fan of ridiculously short boundaries, but I guess the Aussies wanted them as they thought it suited their style of play better. Think that one came back to bite them.
England's bowling looked tame without Brunt and Shrubsole. Tash Farrant did well and was accurate, but the pick of the bowler's was Dani Hazell. She has really stepped up in this tour. She used to bowl very flat and frequently dragged the ball down, but is now giving the ball more air and leaving the batsmen to try and put the pace on.
So looking ahead it is the T20 World Cup in about eight weeks time out in Bangladesh. England and Australia will rightly be favourites, but they will have their work cut out to win. England's first worry will be all their injured players. The list now goes like this Brunt, Shrubsole, Knight, Gunn, and Farrant, not to mention Laura Marsh who never made this trip at all. I have no idea how serious any of the injuries are but the second T20 shows how a weakened (and probably hungover) England can perform.
The result of the second T20 was not really unexpected. It is very difficult to get yourself back up to speed so soon after winning a series. I expect England to perform better in the last T20, provided they can get 11 fit players on the field. It will be England's and Australia's last competitive T20 game before the T20 World Cup. Of the other main contenders Sri Lanka and India have just finished a series in India, and Sri Lanka not only play England Academy, but have the Aussie Shooting Stars coming over in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile West Indies (without the suspended Deandra Dottin) will be in New Zealand in three weeks for three ODIs and five T20s.
It will be interesting to see how they all get on. Certainly all the boards are now taking their team's preparation much more seriously than they used to. For England the rest might just do them good.