Despite all the heroics and late miracles, Australia yesterday retained the Ashes after winning the fourth test
After the joy of the third test, when England won by one wicket at Headingley, there was no such late drama at Old Trafford on Sunday. After a slow first day, where only 44 overs were bowled due to rain, Australia went about their job with steady persistence, knowing they wouldn’t let England make another stunning comeback.
Led by the ever-present Pat Cummins, who bowled out Rory Burns and Joe Root with successive deliveries on Saturday, and Sunday dispatched Jason Roy and Ben Stokes, Australia was simply an unstoppable force combining devastating attacking skill and persistence.
England dug in and grafted on the last day, but Tim Paine’s Australia was relentless in their pursuit of the urn eventually winning by 185 runs. After bowling England out for 197 on the final day, they now lead 2-1 with just one match to play, which is all that is needed for the holders to retain the urn.
Cummins bagged 4-43, which takes his tally in the series to 24. England dragged the match out longer than expected after Buttler was bowled out leaving England at 172-7, with Overton and Leach keeping the game going and unsettling some Aussie nerves, who were praying to avoid another Headingley.
Steven Smith of Australia will more than likely receive the player of the series award after scoring 671 runs, almost double that of anyone else all the while missing one whole Test with a concussion.
Australia is now the first touring team to take home the Ashes from England since 2001 and take their lead to 34 series to 32, with five drawn series. Questions now surround the direction of this England team, despite such promise after their World Cup win earlier in the year.
With players like Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan and Sam Curran dropped for the likes of Joe Denly, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Butler, who scored just three fifties between them, a new coach could be incoming, and possibly a new captain. Joe Root, the current Test captain, has vowed to carry on despite an obvious effect on his performances from the strain of leadership.
Root said after the defeat: “Whenever you lose, it hurts. I have to take that on the chin. You have to look at areas you want to get better at, both in yourself and as a team.
“It is still very raw. [But] I have to look at next week. We have an important Test match against Australia. We have to make sure we finish this summer strong. We have Test championship [points] to play for and do not want to lose this series. It matters to me, it matters to everyone involved. It is a big game.”
The Fifth Test will start this Thursday at the Oval, London.
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