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Home   /   Cricket Weekly Column #14 Ashes Fourth Test Recap

By Riley Taylor (@rileyttaylor21)

Welcome to the 14th 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 Old Trafford during the fourth Ashes Test with the series now wide open after the miracle at Headingley.

What happened at Headingley?

It was appropriate that there was a two-week gap between the Headingley Test and the Old Trafford Test as it would give England fans a chance to recover from a two-week hangover from one of the most spectacular Tests of all time.

Ben Stokes, who had already made himself an England hero after the World Cup, followed up his heroics with one of greatest innings of all time as he amassed 135 to win England the game.

Another hero from this game was Jack Leach who managed to survive with Stokes, making the best 1 not out England fans will have ever seen.

It may have given England the momentum they needed in the series but despite this magnificent performance from Stokes, it papered over the cracks of yet another poor batting display.

They were bowled out for 67 in the first innings, their fourth total under 100 in the past year before suffering a collapse of 41/5 in the second innings as defeat loomed.

However, England won’t mind too much as they are now level in the series with two to go as the series as now wide open.

They will be pleased about some batsmen finding form, Joe Denly and Joe Root both making half-centuries as well as Stokes’ mammoth innings.

Their bowling attack is also looking strong with Jofra Archer picking up his maiden five-wicket haul in just his second Test and Stuart Broad stepping up in the absence of James Anderson.

However, their issues at the top of the order remain with Jason Roy still a massive issue and a likely candidate to be dropped soon.

Australia will be furious with the fact that they let the chance of the Ashes slip away for a Test and its not all plain sailing either in the opener department with both David Warner and partners Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris struggling for runs.

However, they will be boosted by the return of Steve Smith after recovering from a concussion and he will strengthen a middle-order that has looked shaky despite the introduction of Marnus Labuschagne.

They will also be worried slightly about the form of Nathan Lyon who wasn’t at his best at Headingley or Lords’ and now has every England fan on his back after he dropped the chance to retain the Ashes for Australia in the last Test.

However, the rest of their bowling attack is firing on all cylinders with Pat Cummins justifying his number one ICC ranking with some superb spells.

Smith and Labuschagne Revitalise Australia Before Rain Arrives: England v Australia Day One at Old Trafford

Australia: 170/3 (Labuschagne 67, Smith 60no, Broad 2-35, Overton 1-46)

England: Yet to Bat

Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne led a recovery for Australia after they lost two early wickets on the opening day in Manchester.

The pair put on a 116-run partnership after Australia were reduced to 28/2 early in the innings thanks to a strong opening spell from Stuart Broad.

England made just the one change from their miracle win at Headingley but it was not one that was expected with Chris Woakes being dropped for Craig Overton.

Meanwhile, Australia made two changes, one being the obvious reintroduction of Smith who came in for the struggling Usman Khawaja. The other change was Mitchell Starc in for James Pattinson as Australia aimed to match the pace of England’s Jofra Archer.

Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat first and this decision did not look to be a great one when Broad dismissed Warner for the fifth time in the series, caught by Bairstow off the third ball of the innings.

Fellow opener Marcus Harris departed soon after as Broad claimed his second wicket as the Nottinghamshire bowler trapped him leg-before for 13.

This brought Smith to the crease with Labuschagne who had been dubbed “the other Smith” by fans after his performances in the previous two Tests.

The pair added a 116-run partnership to frustrate the England bowlers and even being able to subdue the dangerous Archer.

Both brought up half-centuries before England struck with Overton bowling Labuschagne for 67 with a cracking delivery, his first Test wicket since March 25, 2018.

Smith and new batsmen Travis Head managed to survive to the close with England wasting a review after the latter looked to be trapped leg-before by Ben Stokes, but the ball pitched outside leg stump.

Stunning Smith Hits Double Ton to Put Aussies on Top: England v Australia Day Two at Old Trafford

Australia: 497/8dec (Smith 211, Labuschagne 67, Broad 3-97, Leach 2-83)

England: 23/1 (Burns 15no, Denly 4, Cummins 1-10, Starc 0-0)

Steve Smith produced another masterclass of an innings as he led a dominant Australian batting performance before Australia struck late on day two to put pressure on England.

The former Aussies captain produced his third-highest score of his career and his third double hundred against England as he dominated the English attack once again before some late big hitting from Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon took Australia to a dominating total.

Smith and Travis Head resumed on 170/3 and they started the day with a steady 39-run partnership.

England then broke through, Stuart Broad picking up his third wicket by trapping Head leg-before for 19.

Smith was joined by Matthew Wade, a batsman who needed a good score, yet he looked settled in his 41-run partnership with Smith.

However, he failed to convert his good start as the Hobart Hurricanes wicketkeeper was caught at slip by Joe Root off Jack Leach to give the spinner his first wicket.

Tim Paine joined Smith as this partnership was where England suffered the most as they were punished for their poor bowling as both batsmen racked up the runs.

Smith put on a display of breath-taking batting as he effortlessly swatted away the English bowlers as he moved from landmark to landmark, passing 100 and 150 in the process.

This did not come without some luck as any good innings will Smith caught off the bowling of Jack Leach on 118 but the Somerset spinner overstepped to reprieve the former leg-spinner.

England got a breakthrough when Paine was dismissed for 58 when he edged a beauty of a delivery from Craig Overton and was caught by Jonny Bairstow.

It wasn’t long before England had another, Leach picking up his second wicket when Pat Cummins edged a delivery to Ben Stokes at slip for four.

Mitchell Starc was the new man for Australia as he came in for his first test of the series and he added some quick runs as the Aussies pushed for declaration.

Smith and Starc added 51 for the eighth wicket with the former bringing up a sensational double hundred in the process with a flick for two off Overton.

Smith was eventually dismissed for 211 courtesy of the unlikeliest of sources, as Root had him caught on the sweep by Joe Denly.

Nathan Lyon joined Starc and the two plundered a quick 59-run partnership as England failed to bowl correctly to the tail yet again, with the latter even making a fifty of his own.

Paine called both batsmen in with the score on 497 to give the Aussies 10 overs at the England batsmen before the close of play.

This timing of the declaration looked to be a masterstroke as with four overs to go, Denly was removed for four as he fell to catch from Wade at short-leg off Cummins.

Overton and Rory Burns saw out the day as England faced an uphill battle going into day three.

Burns and Root Star Before Hazlewood Causes Collapse: England v Australia Day Three at Old Trafford

Australia: 497/8dec (Smith 211, Labuschagne 67, Broad 3-97, Leach 2-83)

England: 200/5 (Burns 81, Root 71, Hazlewood 4-48, Cummins 1-37)

Rory Burns and Joe Root lead a steady England reply on day three before a late spell from Josh Hazlewood saw the hosts collapse.

Hazlewood took three late wickets to put Australia on top going into day four after Burns and Root had led a fine comeback before failing to convert their scores into centuries.

Australia started the day well with the ball as they picked up a wicket in just the second over of the day, Craig Overton caught at slip by Steve Smith for five off the bowling of Hazlewood.

Root came together with Burns and the pair managed to stave off the Australian bowling with a strong partnership of 141 runs, with both batsmen going past 50.

However, yet again it wouldn’t be an England innings without a collapse, and this started with Burns as he edged to Smith at slip off Hazlewood for 81.

Root was the next to go as he failed to convert another 70 into a big score when he was trapped leg-before for 71 by a cracking delivery from Hazlewood.

Jason Roy and Ben Stokes briefly repaired the damage with the former in need of runs in his new position down the order.

However, with two overs to go before the close Roy was bowled by Hazlewood for 22 to put the Aussies on top.

Stokes saw off the final over as England went into the fourth day knowing they had a job to do to save the game.

Australia on the Brink of Retaining the Ashes on Eventful Day: England v Australia Day Four at Old Trafford

Australia: 497/8dec (Smith 211, Labuschagne 67, Broad 3-97, Leach 2-83) & 186/6dec (Smith 82, Wade 34, Archer 3-45, Broad 2-54)

England: 301 (Burns 81, Root 71, Hazlewood 4-57, Cummins 3-60) & 18/2 (Denly 10no, Roy 8no, Cummins 2-8, Hazlewood 0-2)

Australia put themselves eight wickets away from retaining the Ashes for the first time in 17 years after an eventful day in Manchester.

13 wickets fell as England scraped past the target to avoid the follow on after yet again collapsing before being rescued by Jos Buttler.

Australia were forced to bat again and despite England grabbing quick wickets, the Aussies were bailed out again by Steve Smith who proceeded to take them to a decent total.

Tim Paine declared with a few overs to go in the day and was duly rewarded with two wickets in two balls from Pat Cummins as Australia put one hand on the urn.

England resumed on 200/5 after Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow had been sent in, late on day three after the hosts suffered another collapse.

The pair looked to be building a decent partnership as they added 27 for the sixth wicket but Mitchell Starc struck for the first time in the series as he bowled Bairstow with a trademark delivery as the ball swung back between the gap between bat and pad to see the Yorkshireman on his way for 17.

It wasn’t long before Australia had another as England’s Headingley hero Stokes departed for 26 courtesy of Starc as he had the Durham all-rounder caught at slip by Smith.

England were now in serious trouble with an out-of-form Jos Buttler batting with the tail with the hosts still 54 runs adrift of the target to avoid the follow on.

England knew that if they were to follow on the Ashes would almost certainly be lost with two days to bat to save the Test.

This soon looked like a real possibility for England as they lost Jofra Archer for just one when he wafted at a delivery from Cummins and edged through to Paine.

Stuart Broad joined Buttler and it looked like they would be the pair to carry England past the follow-on mark as they added 27 for the ninth wicket.

However, Australia struck again to send nerves throughout English supporters as Starc swung one back into Broad and castled him for five.

It was down to old friends Buttler and Jack Leach to see England into a somewhat safe position. Eventually the former sent relief throughout Old Trafford as he rifled a four through the covers off Starc.

It wasn’t long before the innings was over as Buttler aimed a big shot down the ground off Cummins and was bowled for 41.

Australia had a 196-run advantage and so England needed to get off to a perfect start with the ball if there was any hope of still being able to save the match.

This is exactly what happened as Broad had his “bunny”, David Warner trapped leg-before for a duck in the first over.

Just six overs later, England’s second-highest wicket-taker ever had another as he pinned Marcus Harris leg-before for six.

Three overs later, Archer got in on the act when he got the huge wicket of Marnus Labuschagne as he trapped the Glamorgan batsman leg-before for 11.

He soon matched Broad in the wickets column as he bowled Travis Head for 12, ripping the middle stump out the ground in the process.

However, England still faced their nemesis in Smith and once again he took the game away from England as him and Matthew Wade put on a 105-run partnership, Smith bringing up yet another half-century.

He was to be removed for his lowest score in the series as he looked to launch Leach for six, but he could only pick out Stokes and was dismissed for 82.

Wade fell soon after as Archer grabbed his third, having the Tasmanian wicketkeeper caught by a stunning grab by Bairstow on 34.

Tim Paine and Mitchell Starc added a quick 28 runs before Australia declared with England openers Rory Burns and Joe Denly having to survive seven overs until the end of the day.

However, England suffered the worst possible start as Burns and Joe Root departed to Pat Cummins in consecutive balls in the first over of the second innings.

Denly and Jason Roy survived through to stumps with England having to face a huge challenge to save the Ashes going into day five.

Australia Retain the Ashes: England v Australia Day Five at Old Trafford

Australia: 497/8dec (Smith 211, Labuschagne 67, Broad 3-97, Leach 2-83) & 186/6dec (Smith 82, Wade 34, Archer 3-45, Broad 2-54)

England: 301 (Burns 81, Root 71, Hazlewood 4-57, Cummins 3-60) & 197 (Denly 53, Buttler 34, Cummins 4-43, Hazlewood 2-31)

Australia win by 185 runs

Full scorecard:

Australia retained the Ashes for the first time in 17 years as they bowled out England for just 197 on the final day at Old Trafford.

England resumed on 18/2 with Joe Denly and Jason Roy at the crease after losing Rory Burns and Joe Root in consecutive balls late on day four.

The struggling pair managed to fend off the strong Australian attack as they added 48 runs form their overnight total.

Australia managed to force their way back into the game through Pat Cummins as Roy was bowled for 31 as the Surrey batsman’s poor form in Test cricket continued.

England’s summer hero Ben Stokes joined Joe Denly, but he failed to replicate his heroics from Headingley as he edged Cummins through to Tim Paine behind the stumps and departed for just one.

Denly and new batsman Jonny Bairstow saw England through to lunch with the former just two runs away from a half-century.

Denly brought up his fifty, three overs after lunch with a drive for four off Cummins, but it wasn’t long before he was out as a ball from Nathan Lyon got some next bounce and the Kent batsman fended it to Marnus Labuschagne at short leg.

Bairstow and first-innings hero Jos Buttler recovered things briefly as they 45-run partnership until drinks.

However, the interruption seemed to work for Australia as Bairstow was the next to go as he was trapped leg-before by Starc for 25.

First innings nightwatchman Craig Overton joined Buttler and the pair put on England’s biggest show of resistance as they added 34 for the seventh wicket in 20 overs.

However, a misjudgement from Buttler gave Australia the breakthrough they needed as the Lancashire keeper left a ball from Hazlewood only to see it fly into the stumps and had to depart for 34.

Jofra Archer then came and went the following over for just one. Albeit there was not a lot he could have done about his dismissal as a ball from Lyon get horribly low and trapped him leg-before.

Jack Leach joined Overton and the Somerset pair managed to somehow survive against the Australian frontline bowlers as suddenly the England fans began to hope again.

However, an inspired change from Paine saw Labuschagne come on to bowl and he managed to prise out Leach as an extra bit of bounce saw the spinner flick a catch to Matthew Wade at short leg to put Australia one wicket away.

Just two overs later, it was all over as Hazlewood trapped Overton leg-before for 20 and after a review confirmed England’s worst fears, the Australians celebrated as England slumped to another defeat.

It must be said that Australia deserved to win the series as just a Ben Stokes miracle stopped them from winning at Headingley.

The pace duo of Cummins and Hazlewood had been exceptional and the introduction of Labuschagne into the side had worked wonders.

However, the clear difference between the sides has been the presence of possibly the best batsman since Donald Bradman in Steve Smith.

With 671 runs at an average of 134.20, he has been England’s worst nightmare, taking every game away from them.

England most now focus on the 5th Test at the Oval with Test Championship points on the line and the prospect of Sam Curran almost definitely returning to the side.

For more cricket content click here:

For our summary of England’s 3rd Test versus Australia click here:

Stay tuned for more Cricket Weekly next week!

Sub-edited by Tony Robertson.

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May 2024