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   Saturday, 25 January, 2003, 17:18 GMT
Hope for England in Ashes despair
Michael Vaughan waves to the Barmy Army
Vaughan was the undoubted star of the 2003/03 Ashes
Unlike the song made popular by Dame Vera Lynn, England and Australia know exactly where they will meet again.

And if the climate in 2005 is anything like most English summers, it is unlikely to be some sunny day when the Ashes contest resumes, if tradition is a guide at Edgbaston.

Fifth Test, 2002/03
M Trescothick (27)
M Vaughan (28)
M Butcher (30)
N Hussain (capt) (34)
R Key (23)
J Crawley (31)
A Stewart (wkt) (39)
R Dawson (22)
A Caddick (34)
M Hoggard (26)
S Harmison (24)

J Langer (32)
M Hayden (31)
R Ponting (28)
D Martyn (31)
S Waugh (capt) (37)
M Love (28)
A Gilchrist (wkt) (31)
A Bichel (32)
B Lee (26)
J Gillespie (27)
S MacGill (31)

The question of which players will remain when the sides next compete in a Test match is a more vexed question.

But it looks likely that they will be more evenly matched.

England will leave Australia with few happy memories after a tour on which anything that could go wrong did so, with often disastrous consequences.

Seventeen players appeared in Test action for England, and several more - most headline-grabbingly Darren Gough and Andrew Flintoff - could not even make it that far.

Only a 225-run victory over a tired and unmotivated home side in the final Test at the SCG prevented the second 5-0 whitewash in Ashes history.

And yet there have been some encouraging signs for the tourists, with the heat of battle forging the characters of several key players for the future.

Robert Key
Key gave hints of a burgeouning talent
Michael Vaughan, until last year still a fringe player with potential, cemented his place amongst the world's best batsmen, and furthered his case to succeed Nasser Hussain as captain.

A side woefully short of experience all gained a grounding in one of the most brutal destinations for a touring side.

And those injuries brought to the fore players whose names had only been whispered prior to the trip.

Most noticeable was James Anderson, who finished the one-day series with 12 wickets.

Even after the sickening injury to Simon Jones on the first day of the Test series in Brisbane, England's pace corps looks strong for the future

First Test, 2005
M Trescothick (29)
M Vaughan (capt) (30)
M Butcher (32)
I Bell (24)
R Key (26)
A Flintoff (27)
J Foster (wkt) (25)
A Giles (32)
J Anderson (22)
M Hoggard (29)
S Jones (26)

J Langer (34)
M Hayden (33)
R Ponting (capt) (30)
D Martyn (33)
M Clarke (24)
M Love (31)
A Gilchrist (wkt) (33)
B Lee (28)
S Warne (35)
B Williams (30)
A Noffke (28)

Four bowlers will be fighting for three places in the Test XI of the future, assuming Andrew Flintoff recovers from the hernia problems that have dogged his last six months.

England's batting line-up is less certain, with Nasser Hussain and Alec Stewart two stalwarts for whom this is likely to be a last Ashes foray.

Robert Key's 47 in Perth and 52 in Melbourne hinted at potential, but middle-order confrere John Crawley must be uncertain of facing Australia again.

A good start to the domestic season could see Warwickshire pair Ian Bell and Jim Troughton in Test action this summer.

Much has been made of the average age of the Australian side in this series.

But that is unlikely to drop in time for the next meeting even though one or two older players are likely to make way.

Just as with England, Australia made the most of a New Year injury blight to try out some newer faces

Left-arm pace man Brad Williams and batsmen Michael Clarke have been the pick of the bunch.

James Anderson
Anderson was the find of the tour
Should Adam Gilchrist buckle under the dual task of wicket-keeper and leading batsman, he would still command a place with the bat alone.

Shane Warne's mastery of English conditions and English batsmen should keep him in the Ashes XI until the end of the next series

And the presence of Queensland off-spinner Nathan Hauritz will make sure Warne stays sharp.

But another Ashes summer may be just out of reach of Glenn McGrath who, despite an undemanding action that tends to see him avoid injury, will be 35 by the time the series begins.

And Jason Gillespie's continuing injury trouble makes it difficult to guarantee his presence.

Even without one of their chief tormenters, Australia look set to remain strong for a while yet.

In a desperately disappointing series for English cricket, though, some exciting shoots have begun to show, shoots that may have flowered come Edgbaston 2005.

All the news ahead of the 2002/03 Ashes tour

Tour in review

Test series

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