“Felt like we got ourselves into some really good positions, first of all winning the first two games, but then Headingley and again this week – match-winning positions we didn’t quite capitalise on,” Cummins said. “That happens. We were out of it in Birmingham and found a way to win. Once we reflect on it, we’ll be proud that we were able to retain [the Ashes], it’s been a wonderful tour, but we all turned up today hoping to get up and win 3-1.
“Coming over here and retaining the Ashes feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. [But] in 2019 we were all pretty happy about retaining the Ashes. So don’t think we should lose sight of that. Think it’s a huge achievement to come over here and win and get ourselves into many winning positions.”
While there has been much focus on the treatment handed out to Australia’s bowlers by England’s aggressive batting line-up – which peaked with their commanding 592 at Old Trafford – it was with the bat where the visitors let things slip from their grasp, only scrapping past 300 in one of their first innings in the last three matches, while Smith and Labuschagne falling to Moeen in the second innings at Headingley was another pivotal lapse.
“Think there’s a couple of key partnerships batting-wise that felt if we’d just put on another 50 runs that it could really have turned the tide in our favour,” Cummins said. “No doubt that the one big innings they put on [at Old Trafford], you look at could we maybe do some things a little differently, but you never know if that will change anything. There’s too many unknowns.”
“It’s pretty clear just how important Nath is in all conditions,” he said. “And think we probably felt that in Manchester, not having a spinner out there just for that change of pace, someone you feel can control the pace of the game when the wicket’s quite flat and pace bowlers potentially can’t as well.
“Looking at this week, Todd did a fantastic job. He took four wickets in the second innings, but always felt like he was asking questions and could get breakthroughs when the wicket didn’t have a lot on offer. So really impressed with Todd. Hopefully Nath has plenty more cricket left in him, but Todd is there ready to go as well which is great.”
Like all nations, Australia now head into a long break from Test cricket before their home summer begins against Pakistan in mid-December. Though this Ashes marked the start of a new World Test Championship cycle, it also brought an end to an intense period in the format which had some landmark challenges along the way.
At the start of the year the prospect of winning in India, taking the World Test Championship title and securing an Ashes in England lay before them. In the end, one of those was achieved outright when they beat India at The Oval at the beginning of June, and while the urn is still theirs it wasn’t convincing or definitive.
“We just missed what we were hoping to come over here to achieve, but to win the World Test Championship and retain the Ashes is a pretty successful tour,” Cummins said.