In almost an eerie case of coincidence, the first ball of an away Ashes has often been a precursor of the pains to follow for England. Since the judgment from Rory Burns on the first morning of the Gabba Test, England’s Ashes campaign has gone downhill.
But what started as a good year for England on the Test front soon derailed in one of their worst years in the format.
In conversation with Sportsday, Ian Bell said, "They need another set of eyes helping them to make these decisions."
Well, England will be desperate to reset their combinations and strategies in the red-ball format as they have lost nine games this season and have a win/loss ratio of 0.444, their worst in this century.
While the Three Lions endured a tough year on the field, skipper Joe Root shattered numerous records and ended the year as the leading run-scorer with 1708 runs, the most by an England player in a calendar year.
However, one of the significant areas of concern for the team would be the massive difference of 1178 runs between the right-handed batter and the second-highest run-getter, Burns, who managed to score 530 runs.
In this season, England have lost 84 wickets in 29 innings at an average run per wicket ratio of 21.3, which is the worst among the top three batters of all the teams.
With lack of partnerships at the top of the order, the onus of the side relied heavily on Root to anchor the innings and take the team to a fighting total. Coming in at number four, the 30-year old has walked in to bat on 16 occasions in 29 innings within the first ten overs of the innings.
While he has been a lone warrior for the side, the dismal performances of the batting unit have led to the downfall of the team. England equaled an unwanted record as they accounted for 54 ducks in the calendar year, which they created in 1998.
Amidst all the drama surrounding the batting unit, England have not been lethal with the ball either, as they managed to scalp 236 wickets in 28 innings at an average ball per wicket of 57.7, the lowest among the top seven Test playing nations.
The team management has been under fire for their rotation policy and constantly chopping the bowling unit resulting in the side not being able to field their best playing XI against quality opposition.
Ever since the retirement of Graeme Swann, England have failed to find an ideal replacement for the spinner in the most challenging form of the game.
While they have relied on Jack Leach to shoulder the responsibility of the side in the spin-bowling department, the left-arm spinner accounted for a poor run this season.
The 30-year-old picked 30 wickets at a strike rate of 60, which is the third-worst among spinners with a minimum of 20 wickets in the season. Leach struggled with his consistency in this series, as well as he scalped two wickets in 28 overs at a strike rate of 74, the second-worst among bowlers with a minimum of 10 overs.
With a plethora of issues hampering the side and resulting in their torrid run this season, there have been question marks revolving around the fortunes of Root as the skipper of the side. Despite having a dream season with the bat, Root has failed to inspire the team and help them crawl their way out of this muddle.
The visiting side has failed to produce consistent performances in this series and lost the Ashes in 12 days, the fourth fastest in the history of the game in a minimum of four-match series.
"You look back at 2015 and the reset that happened in white-ball cricket, and maybe that's something that needs to be happening in our red-ball game as well," he said in a post-match press conference.
With Eoin Morgan at the helm, England revamped their style of play in the white-ball format post the 2015 World Cup and carved their way to a World Cup win at the Home of Cricket in 2019; the red-ball side would hope for Root to be the catalyst behind their resurgence in the coming year and get back to winning ways.