Cricket Weekly Column #15 Ashes Fifth Test Recap

Welcome to the 15th edition of Overtime’s Cricket Weekly Column, where we look at the week’s biggest stories and games.

This week, we look at what happened at The Oval during the Fifth Ashes Test with England looking to tie up the series after Australia retained the urn at Old Trafford.

What happened at Old Trafford?

Old Trafford was a low point in what has been otherwise a superb English summer of cricket as Australia retained the Ashes for the first time in 17 years.

After being on such a high after Ben Stokes heroics at Headingley, the momentum was with England.

However, two poor batting collapses combined with poor bowling in the first innings set up what was always going to be a negative result for England.

It started with the selection of Craig Overton who took the place of Chris Woakes. It was a harsh call on Woakes who although had not been at his best should have probably retained his place.

Furthermore, if Woakes was going to be dropped why was Sam Curran not considered after being in the squad the full series?

Unbelievably this was England’s only change to the side after being bowled out for 67 at Headingley which showed in their batting as their middle order fell apart as quickly as ever and only avoided the follow on in the first innings due to Jos Buttler digging them out of a hole.

In the second innings, they weren’t so lucky as another collapse on the final day saw the Ashes slipping away and despite Overton and Jack Leach fending off the Aussies for a while, the match was over with just 15 overs left.

The match was dominated by Steve Smith who produced a superb double-century in the first innings which took the game away from England as he had done all series.

Australia were superb as they dominated with bat and ball and were deserved winners of the series, but if it hadn’t been for Smith it could have been a different result.

Despite the fact that the Ashes were gone there was still a Test to play and with Test Championship points on the line, it was still a big Test.

England wisely dropped Overton and Jason Roy who had failed to impress since his introduction to Test cricket. Woakes came back into the side as well as Curran for his first game of the series on his home ground.

Australia, on the other hand, dropped Mitchell Starc for Peter Siddle and Travis Head for Mitchell Marsh, a controversial figure amongst Australian cricket fans due to his seeming ability to not be dropped from the side

Buttler Rescues England Again After Batting Collapse: England v Australia Day One at The Oval

England: 271/8 (Buttler 64no, Root 57, Marsh 4-35, Cummins 2-73)

Australia: Yet to Bat

A counter-attacking innings from Jos Buttler rescued England from another batting collapse on day one at The Oval.

England lost 96/6 on what was a good batting pitch after failing to punish Australia captain Tim Paine for putting the hosts in.

The hosts opened with Rory Burns and Joe Denly who put on the highest opening stand of the series of just 27 runs.

Denly was the first man out when he edged a delivery from Pat Cummins to Steve Smith at slip who juggled the ball before taking a good catch to see the Kent batsman on his way for 14.

Joe Root joined Burns and the pair made light work of the Australian attack as they racked up runs in sunny conditions.

The pair added 76 runs before Burns was out for 47 after looking comfortable as he spliced a short ball to Mitchell Marsh at mid-on off Josh Hazlewood.

Ben Stokes was next in at four with the Durham all-rounder playing as a specialist batsman after injuring himself at Old Trafford.

He added 27 with Root before he fell to Marsh caught on the pull shot by Nathan Lyon for 20.

Jonny Bairstow was the new man in as he joined fellow Yorkshireman Root as the pair added 40 for the fourth wicket.

Root went through to his 45th half-century but was soon out for 57 as he castled by a terrific delivery by Pat Cummins, the England captain failing to convert another 50+ score.

Bairstow quickly followed as he was trapped leg-before 22 to give Marsh his second wicket of the match.

Sam Curran and Buttler were soon the new batsmen and they added a quick 23 runs in just four overs.

However, Australia soon struck back at the double with Marsh doing the damage on both occasions starting with Curran as he edged to Smith at second slip for 15.

Chris Woakes was the next to go, trapped leg-before by Marsh for two to leave England tottering on 205/7.

Jofra Archer joined Buttler and the Rajasthan Royals paceman added some quick runs with a few lusty blows off Josh Hazlewood before the bowler got his revenge when he produced a perfect delivery to Archer who could only edge through to Paine for nine.

This brought Jack Leach to the crease as England’s new cult hero received a huge reception with him and Buttler able to stop the flow of wickets, adding 45 runs in the process.

Leach blocked and ticked the strike over whereas Buttler switched to one-day mode as he launched an attack on the Aussie bowlers, striking three sixes and a four in eleven overs before the close.

Archer Leads England Dominance on Day Two: England v Australia Day Two at The Oval

England: 294 (Buttler 70, Root 57, Marsh 5-46, Cummins 3-84) & 9/0 (Burns 4no, Denly 1no, Cummins 0-0, Hazlewood 0-5)

Australia: 225 (Smith 80, Labuschagne 48, Archer 6-62, Curran 3-46)

Jofra Archer led a superb England fightback as the hosts bowled out Australia on day two to finish the day with a lead of 78 runs.

Australia were in a good position at 160/4 thanks again to Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne before collapsing as they lost their last six wickets for 65 runs.

The day started with England resuming their first innings on 271/8 with Jos Buttler and Jack Leach at the crease.

The pair added 23 runs to add to their overnight partnership of 44 before England’s saviour of the innings, Buttler fell for 70 bowled by a beauty from Pat Cummins.

England’s innings was wrapped up an over later as Leach was bowled for 21 to give Mitchell Marsh a greatly deserved five-wicket haul, the best figures of his Test career.

It was a decent recovery from a poor position, but it still wasn’t a great score on a good batting pitch, so England needed to strike early.

This is exactly what they got as Australia’s opening woes continued as Archer picked up both David Warner and Marcus Harris to leave the Aussies at 14/2.

However, these early breakthroughs only brought Labuschagne and Smith earlier as England toiled against the pair yet again as they added a 69-run partnership.

England had the might of Archer this time round as he dismissed Labuschagne for 48, trapped leg-before to give the Sussex paceman his third wicket.

Smith was joined by Matthew Wade and they added a handy 35-run partnership before England struck again, the latter trapped leg-before for 19.

Marsh joined Smith and the latter brought up a 10th consecutive Ashes half-century as the pair added 42 for the fifth wicket.

Yet again it was Archer who made the breakthrough as Marsh top-edged a short ball to Leach in the deep and was out for 17.

This started the collapse as Australia captain Tim Paine came and went for just one, nicking through to Jonny Bairstow from a delivery from Curran.

Cummins then fell first ball, trapped leg-before by Curran as the Surrey left-arm seamer showed England what they had been missing by not selecting him.

Smith who had been dropped on 66 by Root looked to punish England as he began to rebuild with Peter Siddle.

However, there was to be no century for Smith this time as Chris Woakes trapped him leg-before for 80 to put England in a commanding position.

Some batting fireworks from Nathan Lyon and Siddle frustrated England for seven overs as the pair added 37 for the ninth wicket.

But it wasn’t long before the innings was wrapped up as Archer first bowled Lyon for 25 with a classic slower ball before having Siddle caught for 18 courtesy of a spectacular catch from Rory Burns.

It was a workmanlike display from the England bowlers and despite some dropped catches they managed to give themselves a decent platform.

Openers Burns and Joe Denly had the task of surviving through to stumps with three overs to negotiate.

They survived two but the last over was where they faced troubles. Denly was dropped by Harris in the slips before the last ball of the day saw Burns overturn a leg-before decision on review as England went into day three in total control.

England Continue to Dominate as Batsmen Setup Exciting Fourth Day: England v Australia Day Three at The Oval

England: 294 (Buttler 70, Root 57, Marsh 5-46, Cummins 3-84) & 313/8 (Denly 94, Stokes 67, Lyon 3-65, Marsh 2-40)

Australia: 225 (Smith 80, Labuschagne 48, Archer 6-62, Curran 3-46)

Joe Denly and Ben Stokes lead a dominant England batting display as they helped England extend their lead to set up an exciting fourth day.

England openers Rory Burns and Denly looked to get the hosts off to a good start in order to build a lead for only the second time in the series.

The pair added 45 to their overnight stand before Australia struck, Burns out for 20 as he edged a horribly wide delivery from Nathan Lyon through to Tim Paine.

Joe Root joined Denly with the England captain in desperate need of proving his critics wrong in the last game of the summer.

However, he was out cheaply again, caught at slip by Steve Smith off Lyon for 21 to end the series with an average of just 32.5.

England needed some stability, and this is what they got when Stokes joined Denly as the pair began to dominate the Aussie attack.

The pair both reached half-centuries with Denly looking mightily impressive as he neared a deserved maiden Test hundred.

However, Australia then struck at the double, first Stokes was out for 67 when he was bowled by a superb delivery from Lyon.

Denly was next to go for 94 as he edged to Smith at slip off Peter Siddle, a massively unlucky dismissal not only due to his score, but the fact that if the edge didn’t deflect off Paine’s thigh it wouldn’t have carried to Smith.

Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler were the next pair in with both looking to replicate their one-day skills as they looked for quick runs.

However, Bairstow also needed to show why he shouldn’t be dropped with his lack of runs now worrying.

But the Yorkshireman was to yet again fall cheaply, being caught by Smith at slip off Mitchell Marsh for 14 as Australia started to get back into the game.

Sam Curran was the next man in, and he added a quick 30 runs in just eight overs with Buttler.

Australia needed wickets and this is exactly what they got when they took the new ball as Cummins struck just four balls later, albeit it was a lucky dismissal, having Curran caught down the leg-side by Paine for 17.

Just six overs later, Australia struck again, Woakes caught by a screamer at slip by Smith off Marsh, as he plucked the ball out of the air with one hand, when he dived to his right.

Siddle then made it two wickets in two balls for Australia, Buttler dismissed for 47 courtesy of another stunning catch, this time by Marnus Labuschagne as he ran in from the deep to take a diving catch with the ball inches from the ground.

Jack Leach and Jofra Archer added a few runs before the end of the day as the pair went into day four with England chasing a lead of 400.

Wade Hits Hundred But England Tie Up Series: England v Australia Day Three at The Oval

England: 294 (Buttler 70, Root 57, Marsh 5-46, Cummins 3-84) & 329 (Denly 94, Stokes 67, Lyon 4-69, Marsh 2-40)

Australia: 225 (Smith 80, Labuschagne 48, Archer 6-62, Curran 3-46) & 263 (Wade 117, Marsh 24, Leach 4-49, Broad 4-62)

England win by 135 runs

Full scorecard: https://www.ecb.co.uk/matches/8977#overview

A superb bowling performance from England tied up the Ashes at 2-2 despite a superb hundred from Matthew Wade.

The day started with England resuming on 313/8 with Jofra Archer and Jack Leach at the crease with the pair looking to add quick runs.

It didn’t take long for Australia to make a breakthrough, Archer the man to go after Tim Paine finally got a review correct to see the Hobart Hurricanes paceman on his way for three.

Stuart Broad was England’s last man and he came in and clubbed a couple of sixes off Australia’s strike bowler Pat Cummins.

An over later, England’s innings was over when Leach fell for nine as he looked to smash Nathan Lyon for six but could only spoon it straight up in the air for Josh Hazlewood to take a good catch.

Australia had a big chase ahead of them but after seeing the miracle that Ben Stokes provided at Headingley they were hopeful that Steve Smith could do the same.

However, the Aussies innings started in the same vein as it had all series, both openers being removed cheaply, starting with Marcus Harris who was bowled for nine by a beauty from Broad as the opener’s off stump went cartwheeling.

Two overs later, it was the turn of Warner to depart, as Broad yet again dismissed his bunny, caught in the slips by Rory Burns for 11.

This brought Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, who had been dubbed “the other Smith” by many England fans due to his ability to score runs like his godlike counterpart, to the crease.

However, this time it wasn’t to be for the South-African born batting all-rounder as he was dismissed for 14, stumped off the bowling of Leach by a lightning-fast piece of glovework by Jonny Bairstow.

Although England had got three early wickets they knew that Smith was the key to the game and dismissing him cheaply, something they had not done all series, was the key the drawing the series.

Unbelievably for the first time in the series, Smith fell into one of England’s traps, caught in the unlikeliest place, at leg slip, by Stokes off Broad for just 23.

Wade and Mitchell Marsh were the new pair with England high on confidence needing just six wickets to win.

However, Wade and Marsh had other ideas as they frustrated the England bowling with a 63-run partnership.

England got the breakthrough via the unlikeliest of sources as Marsh was dismissed for 24 as he edged to Buttler at short-leg off Joe Root.

Despite the dominance from England, Wade continued to plough on as he reached a deserved half-century for the struggling Tasmanian.

England continued to peg the Australian chase back at crucial intervals as Aussie captain Tim Paine was trapped leg-before by Leach for 21.

Cummins was the new man and he built a handy 44-run partnership with Wade who went through to a superb hundred in the process as he started to attack England’s bowlers.

However, Broad got a breakthrough for England when Cummins edged through to Bairstow for nine to leave England needing just three wickets to win.

Wade had played so well against England’s frontline bowlers, with Archer tussling with him as the Hobart Hurricane’s teammates had numerous staredowns throughout the innings.

However, Wade was to eventually fall but not to pace but to none other than Root who had the Aussie number five stumped by Bairstow for 117 to put England in touching distance.

Leach then polished off the innings with two wickets in two balls, Lyon the first to go, caught by Root for one, before Hazlewood was caught first ball again by Root via a stunning diving catch from the England captain to seal the game for the hosts.

It hadn’t been a great series for England but the game at The Oval showed that they can be a dominant Test side and if they had got around the Smith situation who knows what the series could have been like.

The Aussies will have been gutted to miss out on the chance to win the Ashes in England for the first time in 18 years, but they at least have the knowledge that they have retained the Ashes.

It has been an incredible summer for English cricket and with the T20 Blast Finals Day and the conclusion of a thrilling County Championship campaign to come there is plenty to be excited about before the winter tour’s to New Zealand and South Africa.

Stay tuned for more Cricket Weekly next week where we will be going over Overtime’s Ashes Team of Series along with ratings for each player!

For more cricket content click here: http://www.overtimeonline.co.uk/category/cricket/

For our summary of England’s 4th Test versus Australia click here: http://www.overtimeonline.co.uk/cricket-weekly-column-ashes-4th-test-recap/

Stay tuned for more Cricket Weekly next week!

Sub-edited by Tony Robertson.

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