Ashes 2019: Australia success puts ball-tampering scandal behind them - Glenn McGrath

Glenn McGrath

Glenn McGrath, Australia's most successful fast bowler in Test cricket, has joined the BBC for the 2019 Ashes series. He will be part of the Test Match Special commentary team and contribute a regular column to the BBC Sport website.

Retaining the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001 is hugely important after the past 18 months for Australian cricket.

They can now put what happened in South Africa with the ball-tampering scandal well and truly behind them.

Since then, they have been clawing their way back. They have been getting the support of the Australian public again as well as regaining that self-belief and starting to play well as a unit once more.

To come to England and retain the Ashes with a Test to spare is the final part of that process.

Australia can now just focus on the future. The past is the past.

I was part of the last side to win in England in 2001 and seeing Tim Paine's team retain the urn with victory in the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Sunday was fantastic.

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Ashes highlights: England battle but Australia retain the urn

The 2005 series that we lost 2-1 was massive, but since then Australia have never really been in the contest in England.

Winning here is still the ultimate for any Australia cricketer because England are always tough to beat in their own conditions.

This is what Australia focused on this summer and achieving it will be very special for this team.

I wanted Australia to use how badly they felt after that stunning one-wicket defeat at Headingley as motivation for the fourth Test and they definitely did.

They were devastated after the Leeds Test - I went into the dressing room because I wanted to show my support.

I told them they had been playing some really good cricket and that it was 1-1 despite them outplaying England.

They came together and will have said that 50% of that defeat was down to missed chances and 50% was down to an incredible innings from Ben Stokes.

They put it in perspective, learned from what happened and didn't let it affect them negatively moving forward, as shown by their positive cricket in Manchester.

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Watch the moment Australia retain the Ashes

Paine has done a really good job. Steve Smith is still a leader as well, and coach Justin Langer will have impressed respect and discipline on his team - things that are really important to him as a person.

The 185-run victory in the fourth Test was a true indication of where the series is at. England really struggled at Old Trafford, taking only 14 wickets, and they didn't bat well.

Stuart Broad has really stepped up in the absence of James Anderson, which was a huge blow to England. Broad has been class, as has Stokes.

But England have basically been held together by Stokes and Broad. Take them out of this team and they have been belted by Australia in this series.

A lot has been made of Jofra Archer but you can't just fire it up when things are good. You've got to do the hard yards as well, and I'm yet to see him do the hard yards.

Archer can look to the example of Australia's Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, who have been extremely impressive in this series.

Cummins is the number one Test bowler in the world for a reason. He just keeps delivering.

It was a miracle he didn't take a wicket in that incredible 10-over spell either side of tea on Friday.

However, as a bowler you know that if you keep bowling like that, wickets are never far away - and he got the key dismissals of Rory Burns and Joe Root on Saturday evening.

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'It's gone straight through him' - Root falls for a golden duck

Burns was a bit unlucky but that ball to Root would have got anyone out and removing the opposition captain, even if Root has not played that well this series, is always key.

I talked to Virat Kohli when India toured Australia last year and he said Cummins gave him more trouble than any other bowler.

Hazlewood missed the first Test at Edgbaston. He came in and did OK at Lord's. But at Headingley and Old Trafford he was exceptional.

He picked up those three quick wickets after Cummins' spell on day three and gets a bit more bounce than his fellow fast bowler.

But both bowl fast in such good areas and give the batsmen no bad balls to work with. They are complete bowlers.

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Buttler bowled by Hazlewood for 34

And then you have Smith. He is just unbelievable. His double century in the first innings was astonishing but then he backed it up when Australia were in a tough spot at 44-4 in their second innings.

He is so adaptable - I can't remember any other batsman being able to totally change his game depending on the situation.

Despite a slightly unconventional technique on first look, he is really well balanced and his hands and the bat come through perfectly every time.

He is mentally strong, just gets in his bubble and wants to bat all day. He is very special.

The Ashes are going back down under but Australia will be determined to win the series 3-1 with victory in the fifth Test at The Oval, starting on Thursday.

It will be interesting to see what they do with their team - will they stick with the struggling David Warner? I'm not sure there are any better options.

They will discuss whether to rest Cummins, who has had a huge workload this summer.

But they may well decide to go in for the kill and continue with the same team.

Glenn McGrath was speaking to BBC Sport's Jack Skelton.

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