Australia captain Pat Cummins saw another Ashes defeat at the Kia Oval as a missed opportunity but was proud to play in a series he feels will be remembered like the 2005 edition.
The visitors saw history repeat itself after they were dismissed for 334 to lose by 49 runs in the final Ashes match of the summer to give England a series-levelling success, having experienced the same disappointment four years ago in south London.
While the fourth Test wash-out in Manchester confirmed the urn would return home with Australia, they arrived in London eager to secure a first series win here since 2001, but came up short despite leading the five-match series 2-0 after victories at Edgbaston and Lord’s.
Cummins said: “I think because we’ve had really good series, especially at home and we’ve had a lot of success, the bar gets raised.
“So, coming over here retaining the Ashes feels like a little bit of a missed opportunity but in 2019 we were all pretty happy about a retained Ashes. I don’t think we should lose sight of that.
“It’s a huge achievement to come over here and win and get ourselves into many winning positions. Yeah, again we just kind of missed what we’ve come here hoping to achieve but winning the World Test Championship (against India) and retaining the Ashes is a pretty successful tour.
“Once we reflect on it, we’ll be proud that we’ve retained it and it’s been a wonderful tour but we all got up today hoping we’d win 3-1.”
In keeping with the narrative of the series, day five ebbed and flowed, with Australia losing three early wickets before Steve Smith and Travis Head guided them to 264 for three, only 120 runs off a record-breaking target at the Kia Oval.
Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali combined again during an extended evening session to swing the momentum back in England’s favour before Stuart Broad claimed the dream finish with the last two wickets to sign off from cricket in style.
An enthralling series concluded at 6.25pm on its final day and after the build-up was dominated by talk of another instalment like 2005, Cummins believes this match-up delivered with the contrasting styles of England’s aggression and the pragmatism of Australia adding to a thrill-a-minute two months.
“It has been one of the best things about the last eight weeks, just walking around the streets, you always expect one idiot every now and then but there hasn’t been any,” Cummins reflected.
“Everyone has been amazing and just talking about the cricket and how much they’ve loved it. I know it is the same back in Australia, big viewers, lots of people interested in cricket, so how good is that? It doesn’t get any better.
“I was a bit young for 2005 but that series gets talked about a lot and it feels like this one will be the same.”
England’s roaring fightback after rain wiped out two hours of play on Monday ensured Australia’s celebrations of retaining the urn were hollow with no confetti cannons fired.
Cummins faced plenty of scrutiny and criticism after rain earned them a draw at Old Trafford following three days of being outclassed by England.
The Aussie skipper added: “Whether we like it or not, Ashes tend to define eras or legacies. If that’s the case for this one, it is something we can be really proud of.
“Both the last two series over here we’ve retained the Ashes and that doesn’t happen very often.
“In terms of criticism, it happens. There are plenty of people out there watching at home and in the crowd, it’s part of the job.
“I think it is one of those series where every game was really close. We got on the right end of it in the first two games and unfortunately couldn’t get over the line in the last two, which is disappointing but overall a really good tour.”
For exclusive stories and all the detailed cricket news you need, subscribe to The Cricket Paper website, digital edition, or newspaper from as little as 14p a day.