1. Australia Have No Sense of History
There have been 2286 Test matches in the 140-year history of the Greatest Things Humanity Has Ever Invented, 343 of them between England and Australia. Never had a team lost a Test match after both (a) declaring in their first innings, and (b) electing not to enforce the follow-on.
Amid the unending deluge of cricket splurging through the world's multiformatted screens today, a precious moment of historic uniqueness was there for the taking. It was a once-in-a-history-of-the-sport opportunity to do something that fans of the sport would still be talking about in 40,000 years' time as they drift from galaxy to galaxy looking for a planet with a cricket-suitable climate, with an atmosphere more conducive to human exercise and existence than, for example, that of Delhi.
The Australian batsmen, to give them due credit, sensed this tantalising slither of statistical immortality, and did their level best to facilitate it. Their dreams were rapidly squished by Josh Hazlewood's remorselessly probing opening spell on the fifth day in Adelaide, however, an interrogation so intense that at least two England batsmen broke down in the dressing room and confessed to their roles in a string of unsolved crimes in the 1920s.
2. England are succeeding in their goal of "putting miles in the legs" of the Australian pacers
Unfortunately, a number of those miles have been clocked up while charging towards the slip cordon celebrating another wicket. Thus far, the weakest link in the Australian attack (in my opinion, rather than the stats' opinion) has been Mitchell Starc, and he has taken 14 wickets at an average of 18.9 with a strike rate under 36, and been frequently borderline unplayable. As weakest links go, he has been devastatingly strong.
As a result, the lack of an allrounder, or even a reliable part-time bowler, has not been a problem. The Adelaide Test was only the second time since 2004 that Australia have used only four bowlers in a home Test. The only other time they have done so at the Adelaide Oval was in 1894-95, when they skittled England for under 150 in both innings. The 160.3 overs delivered by Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, Lyon and the Concept of Unrelenting Pressure were the most bowled by Australia without recourse to a fifth bowler since the Lord's Test of 1985 (nb: a series England won), and their second most ever in any home Test (behind the 268.1 four-ball overs (178.5 in today's money) delivered in the SCG Test in February 1882.
"In recent years, England's batting has been like an unpersuasive missionary trying to convince people to accept a new religion that requires them to chainsaw one of their legs off"
A hundred and fifteen of those four-ball overs came in an unbroken entire-innings-long opening spell on the first day by Joey Palmer and Edwin Evans, during which England were bowled out for 133. That is the equivalent of 76.4 six-ball overs. It was, at the time, the most overs bowled in a Test innings in which only the two opening bowlers have bowled. It is, at this time, still the most. By a long way. Without wishing to claim that I am imbued with the prognosticatory chops of Nostradamus, I foretell that this record will never be broken.
3. Not only do England need to work on converting fifties into hundreds, they also need to work on converting 25s into fifties
England rectified their Brisbane problem of failing to convert 40s into 60s (one out of six), by instead failing to convert 20s into 40s - nine scores of 20 or more, but only two past 40.
In recent years, their batting has been like an unpersuasive missionary trying to convince people to accept a new religion that requires them to chainsaw one of their legs off - their conversion rate has been very poor.
Since 2012, England have converted 25.7% of their fifties into hundreds (excluding not-out innings between 50 and 99), comfortably the worst figure of the top-eight-ranked Test teams. South Africa, India and Australia are all around the 40% mark. By striking contrast, from 2004 to 2011, England's conversion rate was 37.8%, just behind leaders Sri Lanka (39.5%) and South Africa (38.7%).
In the absence of any three-figure scores, and amidst a scarity of fifties, we should celebrate the fact that England have posted 16 quarter-centuries in the first two Tests. Their average for those innings, however, is just 46.4. Currently, this represents England's lowest average for innings-over-25 in any of the 253 Test series (including one-off Tests) they have played since 1888.
Admittedly this is something of a niche statistic, but as the wise old cricketing saying goes, "You don't win too many Test series if your batsmen only average 21.4 more runs after reaching 25."
Australia, only too aware of this sage adage, cleverly avoided reaching 25 at all in their second innings, despite eight of them scoring 10 or more. It was only the third Test innings ever in which seven or more players had reached double figures without anyone scoring more than 20, and just the second time since 1906 that a team has won a Test despite having an innings when all 11 men batted without anyone passing 20.
4. England are reconnecting with their cricketing heritage
England have now lost their last six Tests away from home, by margins of 246 runs, eight wickets, an innings and 36, and innings and 75 (in India); ten wickets, and 120 runs (in Australia). It is only the fourth six-match losing streak England have suffered in Tests. Ominously, two of the previous three involved an Ashes whitewash (2006-07 and 1920-21, both followed by a first-Test defeat on England's next tour).
Since their glorious victory in India in 2012-13, England have won four and lost 16 of their 27 Tests away from home. Prior to that, they had won nine and lost seven of the previous 20, which represented one of their most successful phases as an overseas Test force since the 1970s.
Being obliterated overseas is as much as part of English cricketing tradition, identity, history and heritage as Lord's, rain, the cucumber sandwich, the beer snake, and the tail-end collapse. In their first 26 away Tests of the 20th century, England won just eight and lost the other 18, including seven of the nine featuring Sydney Barnes, often regarded as the greatest bowler in English history, and three of the ten in which the young Jack Hobbs played. The last match in this sequence was a 146-run loss at the SCG in the first Test of 1911-12, after which England won four in a row to take the Ashes. Could that be an omen? No. No it could not. On any number of levels.
5. Moeen Ali is unlikely to tweak England to glory, even if he gets a new bionic finger
Moeen and his hurty finger have had a tough Australian baptism. Even great visiting spinners at their peak have struggled in Baggy Greenland. Since the start of the 1986-87 season, 28 touring tweaksters and/or twirlers have bowled more than 100 overs in Australia. Only one has returned an average below 30. Any guesses? Muralitharan, Kumble, Vettori, Swann, or a Mushtaq, perhaps? No. None of them. It is Peter Such.
This millennium, visiting spinners in Australia have collectively averaged 53.2 - more than 10 runs per wicket more than the next most challenging venue for touring spinners, India (42.7).