Stuart Broad delivered a fitting finale to his cricket career by taking the last two wickets to clinch England a series-tying victory on Day 5 of the fifth Ashes test against Australia on Monday.
An Ashes series that had pretty much everything ended with one last dramatic twist as England produced a stirring recovery in the final session to dismiss the Australians — who were chasing 384 to win the series 3-1 — for 334 and earn a 49-run victory at The Oval.
It was Broad who finished off the tourists, removing Todd Murphy and Alex Carey to take his career tally of wickets to 604 — fourth on the all-time list. The 37-year-old pacer announced Saturday he would be retiring after this test and he got a perfect ending.
The Australians slumped from 264-3, losing its last seven wickets for 70 runs and still haven’t won an Ashes series in England since 2001.
They’ll return Down Under with the urn because, as the holders, they didn’t lose the series but will see this as a big opportunity squandered after taking a 2-0 lead following wins in the first two tests.
As for the English, they will rue the rain that denied them a likely victory in the fourth test at Old Trafford — and therefore a chance at completing a series win at The Oval — but the team’s recovery in a six-week stretch of five tests was another validation of its “Bazball” approach that is winning fans, if not quite the biggest series of them all.
The series got the denouement it deserved, even though a rain delay of nearly three hours — wiping out the entire middle session — threatened to ruin the final day.
Australia started the day on 135-0 and England finally found some seam movement and swing in cloudy conditions with a new ball, accounting for David Warner (60), Usman Khawaja (72) — both to Chris Woakes — and Marnus Labuschagne (13) in an 11-over spell in which the tourists hit just 34 runs.
A 95-run stand between Steve Smith and Travis Head either side of the rain delay steadied the innings, and even put Australia as the marginal favorite. In a dramatic incident, England’s players thought they had got Smith in the final over of the morning session but captain Ben Stokes, who took a fine, leaping, one-handed catch off the batter’s glove, lost control of the ball as he brought his arm down and brushed his thigh. He was adjudged to have dropped the ball before having complete control.
Yet Woakes and spinner Moeen Ali roared back after the resumption, which came at 4.20 p.m. local time and gave England 47 overs to capture victory under what had quickly become a sunny sky in south London. It didn’t need them all.
Head sliced Ali on the drive to Joe Root at slip for for 43, Smith — having just got to his 25th fifty against England — edged Woakes to Zak Crawley at second slip for 54, and Mitch Marsh drew a stunning diving catch from wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow after an inside edge onto his pad off Ali.
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England claimed a fourth wicket in 19 deliveries when Mitchell Starc edged Woakes to Crawley, again demonstrating safe hands, for a second-ball duck and Cummins (9) was the next to depart, top-edging Ali onto his pad and to Stokes coming round from leg-slip.
Stokes, mindful of his botched catch earlier in the day, held onto the ball with a broad grin on his face.
Then it was left to Broad, knees pumping in a scene familiar to many, to clean up the tail and he walked off the ground to a standing ovation and with a stump in his hand.
Australia was looking to complete the highest ever chase at The Oval, where the team became world test champions by beating India in early June. It would have been the eighth highest in test history and the second highest by Australia.
As it was, England recovered for the 2-2 draw — just like in 2019.
It was a series that just kept on giving, from the first ball of the first test slapped for four by Crawley at Lord’s right through to Broad’s finale.
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