Spoils shared but no love lost in final Ashes conflict

Australia started the day staring down the barrel of defeat - and finished it on the end of a 135-run belting in the London dusk.

After England's tail fell apart quickly on the morning of day four, things followed suit for Australia's top order - putting the middle order under pressure.

And for once, Steve Smith was unable to save them - although Matthew Wade tried his hardest to do so, before England prevailed late in the day.

 

Here's everything you missed on the last day of the Ashes.

 

SAME OLD STORY #1

Chasing a total of 399, Australia desperately needed their openers to reverse their disastrous performances of the first nine innings.

Instead, brought a familiar tale when Stuart Broad sent Marcus Harris' off stump cartwheeling back towards Jonny Bairstow at keeper.

David Warner’s horror Ashes ended on an appropriately downbeat note at The Oval.
David Warner’s horror Ashes ended on an appropriately downbeat note at The Oval.

 

SAME OLD STORY #2

England great Graham Gooch, so the popular tale goes, once recorded his answering machine message to say: "I'm out. Probably LBW to Terry Alderman."

David Warner might be tempted to do the same, after he well and truly cemented his place among the great Test bunnies in history by being dismissed a seventh time by Stuart Broad this series.

Warner's misery was complete when he edged Broad to third slip.

No batsman has been dismissed by a bowler more often in one series. It's the sixth time it's happened - the last being when Nathan Lyon had Moeen Ali on toast in the last Ashes.

 

 

SMITH FAILS … FINALLY

After spending more than 32 hours at the crease over the past two months, Smith was due an error - but it still came as a shock to the full house at the Oval.

For the first time this series Stuart Broad added Smith to his vast number of scalps, sending one into the former skipper's ribs - forcing Smith to fend one down the legside, which was gleefully snapped up by Ben Stokes.

It was Smith's first failure, his first score under 50 all series and it put a pin in Australia's hopes of a miracle.

 

 

PAINE'S DRS REVIVAL

Tim Paine sat in front of the media on Saturday night and poured his heart out over his poor DRS use this series: "We're having a 'mare," he declared, before admitting he would try everything to improve.

Well, it took less than 10 minutes on day four for his pleas to the cricket Gods to be heard.

Pat Cummins strangled Jofra Archer down the legside, but was denied by umpire Marais Erasmus - though Paine was convinced, and backed his bowler in with a review.

And, hallelujah, they were right! UltraEdge showed a faint noise as the ball passed the glove and Archer was on his way for 9. It was Australia's first correct DRS call while in the field from 13 attempts this series.

 

 

ENGLAND INFECTED BY DRS DISEASE

And just to prove that cricket is a weird game, England picked up Australia's trigger-happy DRS approach.

Twice Joe Root was convinced by Jofra Archer to chase wickets on review - firstly when he thought he had Tim Paine trapped in front, before HawkEye showed it to be hitting high and legside.

And then England were all out of reviews when Wade, on 66, was struck on the pads by Jofra Archer.

Archer managed to get his skipper to throw it upstairs, which simply confirmed that the ball had pitched well outside leg.

It didn't cost them too much in the end, of course.

 

WADE FIGHTS FOR AUSTRALIA, CAREER

Despite Smith's exit, Matthew Wade was determined to push on against all odds - for his country and for his own career.

 

Australia's Matthew Wade gave selectors a timely reminder of his quality ahead of the home season.
Australia's Matthew Wade gave selectors a timely reminder of his quality ahead of the home season.

 

Wade dug in and held firm against England's attack, building partnerships with Smith and then the tail as he notched a fourth Test century - and second of the series.

 

TWO LIVES IN TWO BALLS

Just after getting his century, Wade looked like he wanted to wrap things up quickly - and not with victory in mind.

He's charged down and looked to hit Joe Root for six down the ground, but completely misjudged it and was stranded down the pitch - saved only by a fumble from keeper Jonny Bairstow.

Not content with being given one life, Wade then slashed a chance to first slip off the very next delivery but the tough chance bounces off Ben Stokes' arm.

 

THE KEY BREAKTHROUGH

Wade and Pat Cummins batted together for 15 overs, adding 44 runs to the Australian total as frustrated England - if not threaten to pull off a Headingley-style miracle.

But just as it felt as though Australia might push through until the end of the day's play, after Wade had passed three figures, Stuart Broad tossed up a wider effort and was able to draw Cummins into his most expansive shot of the day - a wafty drive which feathered a chance to Jonny Bairstow.

A flagging England suddenly found renewed energy.

 

WADE DEPARTS

Wade's excellent innings came to an end on 117 and after 166 balls when he was beaten in flight by Root, who ripped one past the bat and gave Jonny Bairstow a chance at redemption for his earlier missed stumping.

And Bairstow took it with did well to snatch it and whip the bails off, making up for his earlier error and grabbing a second stumping for the Test.

 

THREE WICKETS IN TEN MINUTES

After bravely batting through the bulk of the day, the bottom fell out of the Australian innings very quickly in the end, with Wade's dismissal trigging the final three wickets falling in just ten minutes.

England captain Joe Root was at the centre of the final wickets, taking excellent low catches to remove both Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood as the clock ticked every closer to stumps.

 

There was no love lost between Wade and Jofra Archer.
There was no love lost between Wade and Jofra Archer.

 

JOFRA V WADE HEATS UP

They had plenty of battles throughout the Ashes, but Jofra Archer and Matthew Wade had one last sparring match to liven the crowd.

The chatty Wade has got under the skin of many England players, and Archer did his best to get some payback with some pointed sledges and a barrage of short balls as he cranked the pace up past 150km/h.

After Wade pulled one for four, Archer taunted the Australian batsman following another bouncer, saying: "Why don't you try to hook that one?"

At one point Archer finished his follow through right in Wade's face, and the two engaged in a lengthy stare-off - with the Australian potentially taking the moral victory as the speedster flinched first.

 

SMITH WINS OVER HOME FANS

It took three and a half months, but Steve Smith finally won over the English crowds.

He was given a standing ovation by an appreciative Oval crowd after being dismissed for the last time this tour - and again when he was announced as the player of the series.

News Corp Australia


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