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Unsung Ashes heroes

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 20-08-2015

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Joe Root, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Trevor Bayliss – they are just some of the names to have been credited for England’s convincing Ashes win. 

Plenty of people have played key roles, though, including some you may not have thought of, so here are our five unsung Ashes heroes…

Peter Moores

Alastair Cook was very quick to praise former England coach Moores after his side secured the urn at Trent Bridge and he was right to do so. Moores, now on the staff at Nottinghamshire, did not hit the heights he would have been hoping for in either of his stints as coach of his country, but his second spell in particular helped develop a number of England’s young guns. Joe Root, dropped during the Ashes whitewash of 2013-14, began his purple patch with the bat under Moores’ stewardship last summer when England thumped India 3-1, while Moeen Ali was plucked out of county cricket and put in promising performances with bat and ball, despite often having his spot in the side called into question. England’s players owe a lot of gratitude to Moores as he sowed the seeds that sprouted this summer.

Brendon McCullum

If England had a safety-first approach to Test cricket, then they don’t anymore, with Cook now adopting funky, aggressive fields and is prepared to lose games in order to win them. There can be no doubt that New Zealand captain McCullum’s attacking ethos rubbed off onto Cook when the sides met earlier this summer, with England’s new-found intent evident in the first Test at Lord’s, in particular. The hosts were 232-4 in their second knock in an evenly-poised Test but the shackles were off as Ben Stokes smacked the fastest Test ton at HQ – off 85 balls – to tee up his side’s win, the fiery all-rounder returning with a three-wicket haul on a packed-out day five as England wrapped up a 124-run win. New Zealand had been beaten at their own game but they’d sure developed England’s.

Paul Farbrace

With Moores relieved of his duties prior to New Zealand’s arrival, following a disappointing drawn series against West Indies, assistant coach Farbrace took temporary control. England’s sense of fun was palpable as the former wicketkeeper laughed and joked with his players on the balcony, but he also made the shrewd move of promoting Stokes to No 6, a spot the Durham dynamo has made his own, not just because of THAT Lord’s century but also a couple of Ashes fifties, including a vital one in Cardiff. Farbrace’s desire for his charges to play with no fear was displayed to the max during their ODI series victory over the Black Caps, England passing 300 three times and 400 once. The team haven’t looked back since – except for a horror show in the second Ashes Test. We’ll forget 103 all out, shall we?

Gary Barwell

Having been blown away on a docile and much-maligned track at Lord’s, England would have been praying for an ‘English’ pitch with a green tinge when they headed to Edgbaston for the third Test all square. Whatever gardening tools or magic potion Barwell used worked a treat for the home team, James Anderson tearing through Australia's batting line-up with seamers rather than his traditional swing deliveries. The Baggy Greens had no answer to the moving ball as they subsided to 136 all out in 36.4 overs, Anderson emerging with Ashes-best figures of 6-47. England duly wrapped up victory inside three days. A similar scenario played out a week later on another juicy track, Cook’s boys skittling Australia for 60 prior to lunch on day one at Trent Bridge before winning the game by an innings and The Ashes in style. English bowlers on English wickets equals success, it seems.

Sir Ian Botham and Bob Willis

Beefy and Bob put away their cricket whites a long time ago but the Sky Sports experts aided England’s push for the Ashes urn with words of wisdom before the Cardiff and Trent Bridge Tests respectively. Botham’s speech inspired his country to a 169-run win in south Wales, while Bob’s evening dining out with England’s seamers prior to the game in Nottinghamshire galvanised them to such an extent they bulldozed Australia for a two-digit score. Stuart Broad evoked memories of Bob’s unforgettable 8-43 at Headingley in 1981 with a mesmerising 8-15 in 9.3 overs, the local lad snaring his five-for in a joint Test record 19 balls. It’s a shame that whoever spoke to England ahead of Lord’s couldn’t have the effect. It wasn’t you was it, Nasser?

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