England ensure first drawn Ashes series since 1972 after beating Australia in final Test

15 Sep

England must wait for their chance to reclaim the Ashes urn but Stuart Broad and Jack Leach ensured a first drawn series since 1972 by condemning Australia to a 135-run loss at The Oval.

Last week’s win at Old Trafford ensured the tourists would be the ones lifting the one of sport’s smallest but most revered prizes at the close – but their celebrations came tinged with the disappointment of defeat and a 2-2 series scoreline.

England were unable to reclaim the Ashes
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After asking Australia to chase a towering total of 399, England finally cracked Steve Smith’s code – dismissing him for under 50 for the first time in 11 innings – and outlasted a defiant Matthew Wade, who made 117.

Broad and Leach finished with four wickets each as the tourists were bowled out for 263, Broad grabbing the main prize when Smith flicked to Ben Stokes at leg-slip for just 23 and Leach ending things at 6.10pm with two wickets in two balls.

The result sent England’s outgoing coach Trevor Bayliss out on a high after more than four years at the helm and denied Tim Paine the bragging rights of becoming the first Australia skipper since 2001 to oversee an outright win on these shores.

Smith was expected to be the main obstacle to a home success on day four and as long as he was active, anything was possible. For once he betrayed his mortality, suckered into a well-laid trap to finish with a gargantuan series tally of 774 runs scored, 1,196 balls faced and an average of 110.57.

It fell to the team’s sledger-in-chief, Wade, to carry the fight and he fought through a fiery and ill-tempered tussle with Jofra Archer to make a fine hundred. He was eighth man out deep in the evening session when England skipper Joe Root had him stumped, his second wicket in a useful cameo with the ball.

England’s celebrates taking a wicket
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Root was also involved at the death, holding both catches as Leach picked off Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood, and so ended a famous summer for cricket in this country taking in a historic World Cup win at Lord’s and a compelling Ashes contest.

England resumed on 313 for eight overnight, 382 ahead, and were swept aside in 18 minutes for the addition of 16 runs.

The stage was set for the final act of the campaign but Australia’s brow-beaten openers were bit-part players once again as each finished with averages of under 10.

Marcus Harris was sent on his way in picturesque fashion, pushing down the wrong line as Broad sent off stump cartwheeling. David Warner remains the bigger scalp, though, marked out by his personality and previous pedigree rather than his recent output.

Broad removed him for the seventh time in the series by recycling a favourite routine: round the wicket, outside off stump, careless edge, caught at slip.

New Zealand’s John D’Arcy held the previous worst return for an opener across 10 innings of a series, scoring 136 against England in 1958, but Warner’s persistently paltry efforts have brought him just 95 despite his 61 at Headingley.

That brought Smith to the crease, charged with producing another epic alongside his protege Marnus Labuschagne. The latter failed to reach lunch, stretching to cover Leach’s spin only to be beaten on the outside. Spotting the back leg just off the ground, Jonny Bairstow whipped off the bails.

Smith held the fate of the game in his hands but for once he could not summon something special. Broad dug one in towards Smith’s rib-cage, persuading the 30-year-old to flick casually off his hip, but unusually his calculations were off: the shot was too fine, Stokes dived to capture the key wicket and Smith walked off to his most generous applause in a summer of boos.

Jack Leach took the final wicket for England
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Mitch Marsh was caught off a Chris Woakes no-ball on six then saw Rory Burns drop a tough one-handed chance on 13. In the end it took Root’s part-time spin to get him at short-leg.

England wasted both reviews chasing lbws before they finally tempted Kumar Dharmasena to raise his finger, Leach straightening one towards leg stump and finding Paine shotless on 21.

Wade had been chipping away busily for a couple of hours to England’s chagrin. His stream of chatter has worn on England over recent weeks and they offered plenty in return.

Things built to a frenzy during an eight-over spell from the fired-up Archer, a compulsive passage of play featuring an angry 95.6mph delivery, a hefty blow to the shoulder, outside edges, extended follow-throughs and four or five high-class boundaries.

By the time Archer reluctantly exited the attack Wade was up to 96. He faced a nervy wait for his century but got there with a single from his 147th ball.

After a hard-won celebration Wade briefly lost his composure. Root could have dismissed him with successive deliveries on 106, Bairstow missing a stumping as the ball spat out of the rough and Stokes parrying one-handed at slip.

Root got his man in the end, Bairstow getting the job done at his second opportunity, with the tail unable to stretch things out to day five.

The teams do not meet again until England head Down Under in 2021-22, when Root will hope to wrestle back the urn.

Kevin Pietersen brands England cult figure Jack Leach a ‘laughing stock’ after Australia retain the Ashes

10 Sep

Kevin Pietersen has laid into England spinner Jack Leach for his poor performances during the 2019 Ashes series.

Leach became a cult hero to fans for his one not out at Headingley to help tie the series with Australia.

Jack Leach frustrated the Australian side with his constant glasses cleaning
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Videos emerged of the Somerset player re-enacting the run for his team-mates after the game and was even offered glasses for life by Specsavers.

But Pietersen did not see the funny side of things and the former England batsman did not hold back in his criticism as Australia retained the Ashes by winning at Old Trafford.

“It’s doing my head in that a bloke who’s supposed to win games for England is becoming a laughing stock,” he said, writing for Betway.

“You’ve got people in the stands taking the mickey out of him, wearing masks and fake glasses. Commentators are talking about his Specsavers deal.

“England are losing an Ashes series and he’s only taken eight wickets at 30 in three Test matches.

“It doesn’t look like he’s troubled anyone.”

Pietersen also commented on Leach re-enacting that famous one run following the incredible win Headingley.

“Now I’m not saying that you don’t do these things,” he continued.

“It can be good for team spirit to have a bit of fun. But, from my side, I want to win. I don’t want to see the crowd talking about how funny he is.

“I want to see him winning matches for England with his bowling.”

Steve Harmison backs Joe Root to remain England captain and says Ben Stokes should ‘never ever’ get the job

9 Sep

Steve Harmison has backed Joe Root to remain in his role as England captain and rubbished suggestions Ben Stokes should replace him.

England were beaten in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford on Sunday as Australia retained the Ashes with one game left to play.

Harmison does not believe Ben Stokes is the right man to lead England
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Current skipper Root has come in for some criticism and even faced calls to relinquish the role.

Geoffrey Boycott wrote in The Telegraph that it was time for him to consider stepping down.

The England legend claims Root ‘lacks any feel for captaincy’ and believes he does not possess the ‘gift’ of being a natural leader.

Harmison, though, disagrees with that view, telling talkSPORT Root is the only man for the job while explaining why it would be a major mistake to make Stokes skipper.

Joe Root’s captaincy has come into question
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He told talkSPORT: “He (Joe Root) is the only man to lead England forward. You look through the group and I look round and there is no option.

“I would never ever give the captaincy to Stokes. I’ve seen what happened to Andrew Flintoff when they gave it to him.

“That’s not being negative to Andrew, it’s just that he was the man to take everything on.

“Whatever anybody does, do not give the captaincy to Ben Stokes because of what he’s got on his plate every time he goes out to bowl and bat.

“He is our talisman and lead figure. History tells you, Botham didn’t last too long, Flintoff had too much on his plate with a poor side.

“The last thing the England cricket team need is Stokes as captain.

“The only one you could go for from a senior point of view, who has performed well in The Ashes, is Broad.

“He’s been England captain before but I don’t want him to be captain and I don’t think he needs the captaincy at this time.

“It has to be Joe.”

Harmison was not the only person calling for Root to stay on as captain with Surrey’s Gareth Batty believing he is the best man for the job.

Batty told talkSPORT: “He stays on absolutely. It’s just obvious that people make more criticisms when it isn’t going so well as when it is going well.

“Does he get the accolades he should when England are going well? It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.”

Australia lead the five match series 2-1 with one game left to play at The Oval.

England have named an unchanged squad for that match starting on Thursday.

Australia retain the Ashes as they beat England in dramatic final day of fourth Test at Old Trafford

8 Sep

Australia retained the Ashes as England failed to bat out the final day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

It was always going to be a tough job for England to keep out the Australian bowlers with just eight wickets remaining.

The tailenders managed to take it to the final hour of the day but Tim Paine’s side took the vital final wicket to take a 2-1 series lead.

Josh Hazlewood celebrates taking the final England wicket
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Resuming on 18 for two and facing the prospect of batting out a full 98-over day to prevent Australia retaining with a 2-1 series lead, the home side lost four wickets in the first two sessions.

Joe Denly made 53 in 123 deliveries as he showed the way, with Buttler on 30 from 96 by the time he and Craig Overton walked off to a huge roar of approval from a sell-out 23,500 crowd.

Pat Cummins’ removal of Rory Burns and Joe Root on Saturday night had been a hammer blow for England, denying the hosts their two most durable performers from the first innings.

In their stead it fell to Jason Roy and Denly, two men with points to prove. There were a couple of lbw shouts against Denly in the opening overs, both sliding down leg side, while Roy was able to coax the first big cheer when he tucked the ball through midwicket for four.

Joe Denly scored a half-century on the final day of the fourth Ashes Test
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Both men were playing cautiously until Denly’s patience wavered, chasing a wide delivery from Mitchell Starc and seeing a wild outside edge sail over the cordon. To even consider playing at such a ball was an error but he survived with nothing worse than a lesson learned and four runs to his name.

It took Paine just eight overs to send for Nathan Lyon’s spin and Denly greeted him by sweeping hard to the boundary. There were a couple of nervy moments, Roy almost offering a bat-pad chance and Denly’s slog-sweep landing just in front of the fielder, but otherwise all was well for the hosts.

By the time Roy leant on a nicely-timed cover drive off Starc an hour had passed and England were had moved along to 56.

Nathan Lyon celebrates taking a wicket at Old Trafford
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Australia were searching for a breakthrough and, after 18 overs and 80 minutes, Cummins provided it. It was another fine delivery from the world number one, seaming in between bat and pad and hitting the target.

Roy’s work was done on 31 and his departure brought Ben Stokes to the crease, to the expected deafening welcome. The Headingley hero lasted just 17 deliveries, though, caught in two minds by one that moved back in and flicked the inside edge of an attempted leave.

Umpire Marais Erasmus was not sure, but Australia knew they had their man and Stokes opted to walk before DRS was required. Lunch came at 87 for four, with the ominous prospect of an extended afternoon session hovering into view.

Joe Denly was the pick of the England batters
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Denly was on 48 at the break and, though runs were no more than an afterthought in the wider scheme, a half-century was an important personal milestone.

A punch down the ground off Cummins got him there, for the third time in seven Tests, but his race was almost run. Lyon had bowled 47 wicketless overs in the match when he got one to turn and bounce, forcing Denly back and nudging the glove on its way to short-leg.

After holding the fort for exactly 100 balls on the day, he was out. It left England with one more partnership before the tail was exposed.

Bairstow and Jos Buttler put on 45 but ate up little more than an hour’s play, not quite enough to introduce any jitters.

Paine felt brave enough to fritter three overs on the part-time spin of Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head but made sure to give the first ball after the drinks break to Starc. It was fast, angling in from round the wicket and destined for leg stump – Bairstow called for DRS but to no avail.

Number eight Overton proved a doughty foil for Buttler, both men surviving another challenging burst from Cummins as a replacement ball began swinging sharply.

Australia thought they had removed Overton with the first ball after tea as Labuschagne grasped a catch fielding close to the bat but the ball had hit the body.

The breakthrough came when Buttler (34) misjudged the line off Hazlewood and was bowled leaving the ball. His removal for 34 left England 172 for seven and needing a rearguard from the tail.

Jofra Archer did not last long, scoring only one before being trapped lbw by Lyon with a ball that kept low.

England were 173 for eight with Australia needing just two more wickets for victory.

Overton survived a loud appeal for lbw off Hazlewood after another lengthy review. He then formed a stubborn ninth-wicket partnership with Jack Leach, taking the score to 195 for eight off 85 overs, with 20 remaining in the day.

Jack Leach frustrated the Australian side
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Leach’s resistance came to an end after Paine turned to Labuschagne’s leg-spin.

Leach offered a simple catch to Matthew Wade close in, ending his innings of 12 after 51 balls. Australia were closing in on victory with England 196 for nine.

The game ended when Hazlewood trapped Overton lbw, ending his stubborn innings of 105 balls for 21. The England man called for a review but the decision stood.

Australia celebrated retaining the Ashes with victory by 185 runs.

Ashes 2019: Steve Smith will always be remembered as a cheat, claims England great Steve Harmison

6 Sep

Steve Harmison believes Australia batsman Steve Smith will forever be remembered as a cheat regardless of his achievements in the game.

Smith was banned from international cricket for 12 months, along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, for his role in the ‘Sandgate’ saga in South Africa.

Upon his return, the former Aussie captain has re-established himself as the single greatest Test batsman in the world right now.

Smith averages a staggering 63.2 runs in Test matches
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He has resumed his role as England’s chief tormentor, hitting at least 50 in every innings during this summer’s Ashes series, including a sensational double hundred in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

But despite Smith’s heroics with the bat, which will see him go down as one of the all-time greats, Harmison insists nothing will ever repair the batsman’s legacy after he ordered his team to cheat in South Africa.

“I don’t think you can forgive him,” Harmison told talkSPORT.

“When you’re known as a cheat – and he is, I’m not going to sugar-coat it – that’s on your CV. You’re marked and you take it to the grave.

“Whatever Steve Smith does, he’ll always be remembered for what happened in South Africa.

“That’s something he’s got to live with. I can’t see anyone’s opinion changing on Smith, Bancroft, or Warner – because they’ve tarnished the game.”

The Ashes 2019: Steve Smith’s double hundred at Old Trafford puts Australia in control of fourth Test against England

5 Sep

Steve Smith’s double century at Old Trafford gave Australia a huge advantage in the fourth Ashes Test.

Smith scored 211 before England eventually removed the world’s best batsman as Australia declared on 497 for eight.

It was his 26th Test hundred, and third double against England, as he took his series tally to 589 in just four innings.

Australia declared in the last hour of play to try and get a wicket or two before the close and managed to remove Joe Denly.

Steve Smith scored a double hundred against England at Old Trafford
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England ended the day on 23 for one with Rory Burns and Craig Overton the not out batsmen.

It was a day dominated by Smith, though, as the home side struggled to get him out yet again.

England had chances to get him, Jofra Archer missing a caught and bowled chance on 65 and Jack Leach having him caught at slip only to see the wicket scrubbed off for a front-foot no-ball.

He was last man out, home captain Joe Root his unlikely downfall courtesy of a leg-break reverse swept to short third man, but a late flurry of 59 runs in 49 balls from Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc persuaded Tim Paine to call his men in and have a late bowl at England’s openers.

England again struggled to remove Steve Smith
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Smith put on a 145 partnership with Paine who was also dropped twice, by Jason Roy and substitute fielder Sam Curran, on his way to 58.

England will rue the fact they did not get Smith in a nervy period at the start of play, with Stuart Broad beating the batsman with the first two balls of the morning as he resumed on 60.

Archer kept the pressure on at the other end and should have had Smith with his third delivery, a low, full toss which was pushed straight back at the seamer.

It appeared to be a relatively-simple return chance but Archer failed to get a firm hand on it and a golden opportunity for England turned into four runs for Australia.

England were able to put an end to Travis Head’s sketchy innings of 19, Broad’s round-the-wicket angle to left-handers racking up another victim as he picked up his second lbw of the Test and 17th wicket of the series.

Matthew Wade was next to abandon Smith, making a deeply-unconvincing 16 before racing down the pitch in a bid to smash Leach over the top.

Instead of the mighty connection he envisaged, the ball soared skywards and eventually dropped into Root’s hands at mid-on, notwithstanding a few nervy moments as England waited underneath.

Smith moved to 99 with 10 successive singles and then flicked Craig Overton to mid-wicket for two to bring up his 26th Test century, 11 of which have come against England.

England should have started the afternoon session with the scalp of Paine, who nicked a wide one from Broad on nine only for Roy to fumble the chance.

Stuart Broad was England’s best bowler
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Remarkably, things only got more frustrating from there. First Smith hoiked Leach wildly into the off-side, but safe between two fielders, on 108 then he banked back-to-back boundaries off Ben Stokes – the second a brilliantly-precise steer to the left of gully.

Then came the killer moment, Leach finding the outside edge and Stokes holding a smart slip catch. England finally had their man and Stokes’ reaction – hurling the ball into the ground with force – showed how much it meant.

Then a pause as Smith was told the replays were being checked. Leach had overstepped and England’s bubble was burst.

Joe Denly was removed in the last 10 overs of the day
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Their best hope now was the new ball but its arrival was a false dawn, Smith digging back in after his reprieve to go past 150 and Paine upping his share of the workload.

Root sent for Stokes to make something happen but he lasted just five balls, wincing in pain before admitting defeat and spending 20 minutes off the field receiving treatment on a sore shoulder.

The blows kept coming for the hosts, Curran dropping Paine on 49 after he mis-hit Archer to mid-on.

Australia piled on 128 in 25 overs after tea, Smith eventually falling to Root’s part-timers only for Starc to pick up the baton with 54 in 58 balls.

Faced with the prospect of 10 overs before stumps England reached 23 for one – Joe Denly’s return to opener yielding just four runs before he turned Pat Cummins to short-leg, where Matthew Wade held one-handed at the second attempt.

Everton vs Wolves: Australia Ashes stars Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon ‘booed’ by Goodison Park crowd as the pair are introduced at half-time

1 Sep

Australian cricketers Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle got a frosty reception at Goodison Park after being introduced to the crowd.

The Aussie pair were attending the Everton vs Wolves clash in Merseyside on Sunday.

Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle were watching Everton vs Wolves
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Lyon and Siddle were paraded on the pitch at the half-time break, while wearing Everton scarves, but did not get the best of receptions.

Journalist David Downie tweeted that both were introduced to the crowd and were booed almost immediately before swiftly leaving.

The Toffees won the match 3-2 thanks to Richarlison’s double and a header from Alex Iwobi. Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez scored Wolves’ goals.

The move to have both of them paraded on the pitch at half-time in the Premier League club left people on Twitter confused to say the least.

The pair are currently preparing for the fourth Test of the Ashes, which starts on Wednesday.

The series is currently tied 1-1 after a thrilling third Test at Headingley ended with an England one wicket win thanks to Ben Stokes’ heroics.

Lyon has 14 wickets from the first three matches while Siddle has taken five in the two he has been a part of.


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Ben Stokes is now officially a Tottenham fan after England Ashes hero is sent Spurs shirt

30 Aug

England cricket hero Ben Stokes is now a Tottenham fan after being sent a Spurs shirt.

Stokes hit 135 not out on Sunday as he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for England to keep the 2019 Ashes series alive.

Ben Stokes is now officially a Tottenham fan
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There were jubilant scenes from cricket fans up and down the country, including at the new White Hart Lane.

The 28-year-old, who plays county cricket for Durham, was shown a video of the celebrations and admitted he was ‘looking for a football team to support’ as he did not follow any club.

Stokes tweeted on Friday that he was now officially a Spurs fan after being sent a shirt with his name on the back.

He said: “Never supported a club, always wanted to but never loved football enough really. My first ever football top was actually a Tottenham one, it was the blue and yellow kit with Thomson on the front.

“But after getting sent this I guess I’m now officially a Spurs fan.”

Stokes virtually kept England in the Ashes singlehandedly with his performance in the third Test.

Had they lost, then Australia would have retained the Ashes but the series is now tied 1-1 with two matches left to play.

Stokes told talkSPORT that his personal achievements would mean nothing unless England go on to win the series.

‘You f****** legend’ – Piers Morgan leads tributes to Ben Stokes after Ashes century steers England to Third Test victory over Australia

25 Aug

Ben Stokes delivered one of the greatest individual sporting performances to almost single-handedly win the Ashes Third Test for England at Headingley.

The Durham all-rounder smashed an incredible 135 off 219 balls to tie the series 1-1 in a victory which will go down as one of the greatest of all time.

Ben Stokes put in one of the greatest individual sporting performances in history
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After an embarrassing first innings total of 67, Stokes took the game by the scruff of the neck and wrestled the game away from Australia when all hope seemed lost.

With just one wicket to spare, Stokes smashed the ball through the cover and performed an iconic celebration as partner Jack Leach ran in to congratulate his teammate.

Naturally, the entire country was watching through their fingers as the tension became almost unbearable.

But as the 28-year-old hit the winning run, plenty of famous faces took to social media to salute Stokes for his incredible performance. Check out the best below!

Ashes 2019: Ben Stokes hits incredible century to give England thrilling win over Australia in third Test

25 Aug

Ben Stokes produced a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ performance for the second time this summer as his brilliant century kept the Ashes alive with a thrilling one-wicket victory over Australia at Headingley.

The all-rounder hit a superb 135 not out, channelling the spirit of Sir Ian Botham in 1981, and arguably eclipsed his match-winning turn in the World Cup final, to lead England to their record chase of 359.

Stokes was brilliant to level the Ashes at 1-1
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Anything less and Australia would have retained the urn at 2-0 with two to play but what transpired was simply one of the most incredible roars of defiance ever seen on a cricket field, as he led last man Jack Leach in an unbroken stand of 76 for the final wicket.

Stokes hit eight sixes and 11 fours as he instantly laid claim to one of the greatest innings of all time, while Leach’s solitary run was the one that levelled the scores.

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