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
Getty Images - Getty

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
AFP or licensors

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
AFP or licensors

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.

Joe Denly leads the way as England take charge of final Ashes Test

14 Sep

England set the stage for a series-levelling victory on day three of the final Ashes Test, with new father Joe Denly leading the way with a career-best 94.

Denly, who joined wife Stacy for the birth of their second child after play on Thursday night, would have loved to mark a memorable week with a maiden century but, as consolation prizes go, his knock at The Oval will take some beating.

Denley put in a spirited batting performance

Betraying no signs of sleeplessness the 33-year-old not only made a strong case for his international career to continue this winter – far from a done deal when he walked to the crease – but also played a decisive role in England’s 382-run lead at stumps.

In piling up 313 for eight at stumps, Ben Stokes (67) and Jos Buttler (47) with the key supporting roles, the home side made themselves heavy favourites to make it 2-2 at some point over the next two days.

To achieve their goal of a first outright win on these shores in 18 years Australia need to produce a chase considerably better than the 359 Stokes improbably hunted down at Headingley, though Steve Smith’s presence at number four makes just about anything possible.

Smith, who has 751 runs in six innings, refuses to stay out of the game and here claimed four catches at slip including one quite brilliant leaping one-hander late in the day.

 

But Australia were far from flawless in the field, with captain Tim Paine’s declining to review sound lbw appeals against Denly on 54 and Buttler on 19 while Stokes survived a couple of tricky chances.

Denly had been dropped on nought late on the second evening and there was a sense of freedom to his early strokeplay, with he and Rory Burns settling in with some nerve-settling early boundaries.

The introduction of Nathan Lyon only accelerated things, Denly skipping down the track twice in his first over of the day loft the spinner back down the ground for four and six.

When Burns punched Peter Siddle down the ground it brought up the first half-century opening stand all summer, a modest hill that had become an Everest for these sides.
Burns fell for 20 shortly afterwards, groping at a long-hop from Lyon and feathering into Paine’s gloves.

Denly set out his stall to bat out the session, reaching lunch on 37 from 101 balls, but captain Joe Root made an unconvincing 21 before falling 10 minutes before the break. It was an innocuous off-break from Lyon, doing little more than holding its line but pinging to slip as Root pushed forward.

England are in a good position to level the series

The lead stood at 157 at the interval, with England’s position only strengthened by their eight wickets in hand.

The afternoon’s play saw the hosts advance their case to the tune of 105 runs without further loss as Denly and Stokes combined several slices of luck with increasingly fluent strokeplay.

Stokes offered a clear chance on seven when he rocked back and edged a cut straight at Smith, who grassed a brisk chance at head height.

Lyon was the unlucky bowler and was soon counting the cost, Stokes picking up four from a mis-field then sweeping the next delivery for six into the Peter May Stand.

Denly secured a fourth half-century in England whites with a neat flick off the pads but had a heart-in-mouth moment soon after, Mitchell Marsh forcing one into his back pad.

His appeal was long and passionate but it was waved away by Marais Erasmus before Paine declined to review. When the replays were ready, they confirmed Marsh’s suspicions.

The scoreboard kept ticking but Stokes might have run himself out twice had Australia managed better throws and on 52 found himself grateful that substitute fielder Cameron Bancroft failed to pull off one of his trademark grabs at short-leg.

Peter Siddle was the man to remove Denley

Stokes started the evening at a bullish tempo but when he was undone by a superb Lyon delivery, ripping past the bat and into off stump, all eyes were on Denly. He had ticked off his previous best of 69 and taken tea on 82.

He got within one blow of three figures – albeit an ambitious one – but could not get there, squared up by Siddle and nicking off. The ball flicked Paine’s thigh, with the wicketkeeper standing up, but did not get past Smith.

He prodded forlornly at the turf as he reluctantly left, but his efforts left the team 291 ahead.

Proceedings sped up thereafter, with 91 runs and four wickets moving the script along. Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes came and went swiftly, the latter courtesy of Smith’s stunning reactions, but Buttler’s sweet timing kept England on top.

He was last out to another fine catch, from Marnus Labuschagne, leaving Jofra Archer and Jack Leach in place at the close.

Joe Root must stay as England captain despite Ashes failure, says Matthew Hoggard

12 Sep

Former England cricketer Matthew Hoggard has leapt to Joe Root’s defence, saying his position as Test captain should not be called into question.

It’s been an unsuccessful Ashes series for England as they find themselves 2-1 down with just one match left and with no chance of retaining the famous urn.

Root and England have been second best in this summer’s Ashes
Getty Images - Getty

This will be the second series Root has lost to Australia since be became captain in February 2017 – the other a 4-0 defeat Down Under in December 2017/January 2018.

Root and England’s failures have led to the likes of Geoffrey Boycott claiming the Yorkshireman “lacks any feel for captaincy“, while ex-England spinner Graeme Swann said he should never have have been made captain in the first place.

Steve Harmison told talkSPORT that Root is the only man for the job and Hoggard, who helped England beat Australia in the 2005 Ashes with Harmison, echoed his former teammate’s views.

When asked about whether the criticism surrounding Root’s status as England Test captain is fair, Hoggard, speaking at SportNation.bet’s Ashes review event, said to talkSPORT.com: “B*******”

“What tactics are there that Joe Root’s done that we’ve not agreed with? It’s not as if there’s been stupid field placements or everyone is complaining about the selection. What’s he done wrong?

Howzat Cricket Show: Sunday, July 19
‘Hoggy’ has come out and backed fellow Yorkshireman Root
getty

“Yes it’s 2-1 in an Ashes series that we needed to win but Root hasn’t stood out as a player that’s done much wrong.

“At the moment, the biggest enigma has been about how to get Steve Smith out.”

Root has had a busy summer as he was part of England’s ODI side that won the Cricket World Cup earlier this summer. He also plays for England at T20 level.

His workload has arguably had an effect on his form with the bat with Root out for three ducks in six innings before the fifth Test.

It’s led to suggestions that Root should consider quitting playing in T20 matches in a bid to improve his Test form.

When when asked whether Root should abandon either T20 or ODI cricket, Hoggard added: “The only person who can answer that is Joe Root.

“I hate people making decisions on what’s best for another player. Only Joe Root himself knows.

“Yes, you’re allowed to have a bad series and not be in good nick but if Root scores 200 at the Oval [in the fifth Test], what are the critics going to say then?

“Batting at three is difficult for him when he scores his runs at four and to come in at three very quickly like he’s had to against Australia is a hard place to be. Ask Michael Atherton who used to get done by Glenn McGrath all the time.

“It’s not like he’s been playing s*** shots, he’s been got at. He’s not getting himself out. Some of the balls he’s been getting would get anyone out.

“I’m not concerned about him as a captain or his form.”

 

Root is hardly the only England player to have struggled for form throughout the series and it’s cost Jason Roy a place in the team going into the final Test.

Roy’s form has been particularly frustrating with his highest score just at 31 leading to claims his game is not suited in a Test format.

And Hoggard has suggested Roy should focus on scoring runs for Surrey before he tries to fight his way back into the England set-up.

Hoggard added: “He [Roy] hasn’t set the world alight in the Test format, has he?

Roy’s Ashes series never got going
AFP or licensors

“Yes, it’s very hard opening the batting against Australia with their excellent bowlers especially in a Test arena.

“If he doesn’t start doing it for Surrey then it’s going to be difficult [to get back in the England team].

“He has looked like a rabbit in headlights, a bit out of his depth and if he wants to open the batting for England he’s going to have to go back to Surrey and score some runs.”


SportNation.bet are the only bookmaker offering unique reward points for every single bet placed – find out more HERE. Please gamble responsibly 18+ terms apply

Ashes 2019: England batsman Jason Roy DROPPED for fifth and final Test against Australia

11 Sep

England batsman Jason Roy has been dropped for the fifth Ashes Test against Australia at the Oval.

The limited-overs star has struggled upon his introduction to the longer format, averaging just 18.7 runs in his opening five Tests.

Jason Roy’s Test career has not gone to plan so far
AFP or licensors

A move from the top of the order to no.4 at Old Trafford did not result in more runs, and despite Australia already retaining the urn, the England selectors have run out of patience.

Craig Overton, who batted valiantly to try and save the fourth Test, has also lost his place, with all-rounders Sam Curran and Chris Woakes replacing the duo.

Neither Woakes nor Curran represent a direct replacement for Roy, and Ben Stokes will fill the void as part of a re-balance.

The England hero is currently nursing a shoulder injury which will see him unable to bowl, so will therefore move up the order as a specialist batsman.

Joe Root’s men are playing for pride after already failing in their bid to retain the Ashes.

The Aussies take a 2-1 lead into the final test in London, and England will be keen to draw the series, even if it means the urn still goes back to Australia.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh replaces Travis Head for the visitors.

Mitchell Marsh will make his first appearance of the series
Getty Images - Getty

England team to face Australia

Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad.

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
AFP or licensors

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.”

England name unchanged squad for fifth Ashes Test at The Oval as they look to level series with Australia

9 Sep

England have named an unchanged squad for the final Ashes Test against Australia at The Oval this week.

Australia retained the Ashes after a 185-run victory at Old Trafford saw them go 2-1 up in the series with one match left to play.

Joe Root’s captaincy has come into question
Getty Images - Getty

The selectors have resisted attempts to draft in new players as they look to tie the series and prevent the tourists from recording a first outright win in England since 2001.

They have decided to retain the same XI as well as Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, who missed out in Manchester.

While further changes to an already depleted bowling line-up were always unlikely, there had been some expectation of alterations to the top seven, where Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler have all endured various struggles.

Australia retained the Ashes with their victory at Old Trafford
Getty Images - Getty

Dominic Sibley of Warwickshire and Kent’s Zak Crawley have both impressed the selectors at the top of the order but will not get a chance to make their debut in the final game of the international season.

There had also been calls to recall Surrey duo Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes to play on their home ground.

Pope has been in good form and hit an unbeaten double hundred in the County Championship while Bairstow’s form with the bat has seen Foakes discussed as a replacement.

Any combination of those four players may yet be seen on the winter tour to New Zealand, but serious surgery to the squad has been delayed.

England squad for fifth Ashes Test

  • Joe Root
  • Jofra Archer
  • Jonny Bairstow
  • Stuart Broad
  • Rory Burns
  • Jos Buttler
  • Sam Curran
  • Joe Denly
  • Jack Leach
  • Craig Overton
  • Jason Roy
  • Ben Stokes
  • Chris Woakes

Question marks remain over the fitness of Ben Stokes, who injured his right shoulder over the weekend and did not bowl in Australia’s second innings.

England are due to assess him over the next 48 hours but his batting, which brought a century at Lord’s and a contender for the best ever Test innings at Headingley, would surely guarantee his role as a specialist in the top five.

What it would call for is a change elsewhere, with Woakes or Curran drafted in as an all-rounder with a batsman forced to make way.

Roy would be an obvious candidate given his travails, but it may also be possible to switch the gloves around and retain Buttler at Bairstow’s expense.

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
AFP or licensors

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
Getty Images - Getty

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.

Geoffrey Boycott says Joe Root ‘lacks any feel for captaincy’ but England skipper insists he is right man for job despite failing to regain Ashes

9 Sep

Joe Root insists he remains the right man to captain England as Geoffrey Boycott called for him to consider stepping down.

Australia ensured they will retain the Ashes with a match to spare by completing a hard-fought 185-victory in the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Josh Hazlewood of Australia celebrates taking the final wicket of Craig Overton to clinch victory in the fourth Test
Getty Images - Getty

Root, who presided over the 4-0 defeat in Australia in 2017-18, is England’s first captain not to win the series on home soil since Nasser Hussain in 2001.

Root was visibly distraught after seeing his side’s resistance come up short but is single-minded about his own future.

“Definitely, yes,” he said when asked if he felt he was the right man for the job.

“Whenever you lose a series it hurts and I have to take that on the chin. It’s still very raw. You have to look at areas you want to get better at, both in yourself and as a team.

“But I have been given a fantastic opportunity to captain the Test side and will continue to work very hard doing my best at that. That is in my control and I have to make sure I keep getting this team in the best shape to win as many games as possible.”

However, despite his insistence he is the best man for the job, England legend Boycott reckons it is time for Root to be replaced as skipper.

Writing in The Telegraph, Boycott said: “Joe Root is such a likeable lad, a quality batsman and nobody wants to hurt or humiliate him but I’m afraid he lacks any feel for captaincy.

Root became tghe first England captain to surrender the Ashes urn on home soil in 18 year
Getty Images - Getty

“His captaincy has been very disappointing and he has to seriously think about whether he is suited for the job and whether it is affecting his batting.

“Captaincy is a gift. It comes naturally to some people and you cannot learn it from a book.

“You learn it as a young man watching your peers and elder players in the team. You need a feel for it. Some of the best captains had little or no experience of the job before they led England, such as Michael Vaughan and Ray Illingworth, but turned out to be brilliant at it.

“Captaincy is like playing chess. You have to think two steps ahead. A match can be nip and tuck for long periods then, when you see an opportunity, you have to attack. I am afraid Joe does not see his chance early or quick enough, and sometimes he does not see it at all.”

England put up a fight on the final day of the fourth Test but it wasnt enough
Getty Images - Getty

Boycott added: “As much as we all love Joe, it seems he does not have a feel for the nuances of the game. There have been crucial moments in all the matches and England have very rarely grasped them. Australia have always been mentally stronger and won the key moments.

“The selectors will not want to take the captaincy off him. They are not sure who to give it to instead and they will not want to humiliate our best batsman by sacking him publicly. But he has not batted very well for a while and the team spend too long drifting to challenge good sides such as Australia. He has to spot an opportunity and be positive but Joe goes on the negative too often too soon.”

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
Getty Images - Getty

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
Getty Images - Getty

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
Getty Images - Getty

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
AFP or licensors

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
AFP or licensors

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: England’s hopes hanging by a thread as Pat Cummins strikes twice

7 Sep

England were on the verge of the surrendering the Ashes after Pat Cummins struck a cruel double blow on the penultimate evening of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Steve Smith’s latest remarkable innings of 82 allowed Australia to declare for the second time in the match, boasting a lead of 382, 20 more than a Ben Stokes-inspired England managed in their record win at Headingley.

Pat Cummins celebrates bowling Joe Root
Getty Images - Getty

The less fantastical goal was to bat out the remainder of the match and set up a winner-takes-all battle at the Oval next week, but Cummins rendered that an improbable long shot when he dismissed Rory Burns and captain Joe Root in the first over of the reply.

The pair have been responsible for England’s two biggest partnerships of the series, including 141 in the first innings here, but were skittled for ducks by successive Cummins deliveries.

Burns has been easily the most durable opener in the series but lasted only three balls, sending a leading edge looping to short cover. Root strode to the crease with his team’s hopes on his shoulders but was on his way back within a few short seconds, Cummins conjuring something fit for the occasion: demanding attention on a good full length then nipping away to clatter off stump.

Cummins and his team-mates celebrated like they had retained the Ashes and, although Joe Denly and Jason Roy survived to reach 18 for two, they will surely do just that on Sunday.

Steven Smith bats for Australia
Getty Images - Getty

If they do it will be overwhelmingly down to Smith, whose freewheeling efforts steered Australia to 186 for six and took his total output in just four innings to 671 over the course of a spirit-sapping 998 balls.

The day began with England 200 for five in their first innings, with Stokes carrying the burden of expectation following his exploits in Leeds.

He and Jonny Bairstow successfully negotiated six overs of the new ball but, as soon as Mitchell Starc unwrapped the fresh Dukes, the tone changed.

The left-armer disappointed on day three but now there was swing in the air and he used it to spear a yorker through the inviting gap offered by Bairstow.

Ben Stokes watched on
Getty Images - Getty

Stokes was living dangerously himself, surviving a caught-and-bowled chance and seeing a top-edged hook sail over the wicketkeeper’s head. He managed 26 before the end came, pushing away from his body at Starc and feeding Smith at slip.

His latest attempt at digging England out a sizeable hole had faltered, but Jos Buttler was on hand to take the follow-on off the table with his best score of the series, 41.

He got off the mark with an uppish drive that briefly tempted cover, and responded to Jofra Archer’s soft dismissal by setting off a seven-ball sequence that saw him hit three more boundaries.Stands of 27 with Stuart Broad and 18 with Jack Leach allowed him to beat the follow-on target of 298 by three runs, doing so with a flourish through cover, before he lost his middle stump to that man Cummins.

England rallied in spirited fashion after the switch, Broad and Archer sharing four wickets to leave the tourists briefly vulnerable on 44 for four. Broad began by continuing his bullying of David Warner, pinned lbw in the first over as the seamer dismissed him for the sixth time in eight innings. It was his second duck of the match and his third in a row.

Marcus Harris departed in similar fashion, Broad on a roll from round the wicket, and Archer made it three leg before decisions in a row when he pinned Marnus Labuschagne in front for 11.

The best was yet to come, Archer uprooting Travis Head’s middle stump before the interval left both sides to gather their thoughts.

But Smith was still there and resumed on 19 after tea with an instant gear shift, taking 10 runs off Leach’s first over of the evening with a sequence of aggressive strokes.

He was soon hacking over the infield, sweeping into the gaps and paddling square on both sides. The pressure dissolved as his counter-attack took hold, with Root’s attempts to set a field increasingly in vain.

A tough finish for England
AFP or licensors

Stokes almost conjured a brilliant solution, sprinting from slip in anticipation of a reverse sweep but parrying what would have been an unbelievable catch. As Smith jogged through for one, he took the lead to 300, working another single next up for his 50.

Yet another century seemed to be inevitable but finally his veneer cracked, a big swing against Leach sending a steepling chance to long-off to the safest hands imaginable: Stokes.

The declaration came later than some expected, leaving half-an-hour, but it was enough to land two major blows on the English psyche. Cummins was simply too good in fading light, leaving England the prospect of 98 overs on a fifth day pitch with eight wickets in hand.

One, of course, is Stokes, but this may even be too much for cricket’s man of the summer.