England v Australia - 4th Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Five
England v Australia - 4th Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Five

Long Ashes wait over - but Australia made to earn it

The drought is over, the old enemy has been defeated and the Ashes are staying in Australia. But only just.

Australia left it late on day five to prevail by 185 runs in the final hour at Old Trafford and take an unassailable 2-1 lead to break an 18-year wait to retain the Ashes in England.

 

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Pat Cummins was the early destroyer, but nerves began to fray as England's stoic tail blocked out the best Australia had to offer - before Marnus Labuschagne proved the unlikely hero, and then Josh Hazlewood took the final wicket.

 

 

 

Everything you need to know from a gripping final day's play ...

 

PAINE'S TACTICAL MASTERCLASS

Tim Paine wore the brunt of the criticism for Australia letting the Ashes slip away at Headingley - and deserves an enormous chunk of the plaudits for retaining them at Old Trafford.

 

Tim Paine has got a few things wrong in the series but got most things right when it mattered at Old Trafford.
Tim Paine has got a few things wrong in the series but got most things right when it mattered at Old Trafford.

 

With the game again seemingly slipping from their grasp, the skipper made the surprise decision to throw the ball to part-time spinner Marnus Labuschagne in the final hour.

It proved decisive, as the Queenslander removed cult hero Jack Leach to break England hearts.

It capped a supreme all-round tactical performance from Paine, from well-timed declarations to clever bowling changes.

 

STOKES DOES A GILLY

Ben Stokes is a freak of nature who played arguably the greatest Test innings of all-time a fortnight ago - if England needed anyone to stand up on day five, it was him.

Which made it even more surprising that the all-rounder channelled Adam Gilchrist by walking after nicking behind off Pat Cummins when on just 1.

 

Ben Stokes didn’t wait around for a likely review that would have confirmed his dismissal, walking immediately.
Ben Stokes didn’t wait around for a likely review that would have confirmed his dismissal, walking immediately.

 

Stokes had a thin inside edge, forcing a good low catch from Tim Paine, to send Australia into delirium - but Marais Erasmus was unmoved.

Australia would certainly have reviewed, but Stokes took it out of their hands by walking off the pitch unprompted.

 

GHOSTS OF HEADINGLEY, CARDIFF LOOM

As England ploughed on through the meandering middle session, and it started to become clear that Australia's nerves were becoming frayed, the crowd grew in voice.

The ghosts of Headingley from a fortnight ago and Cardiff ten years ago began to loom large.

Every dot ball was cheered - even with 70 overs remaining - and they got louder and louder until …

 

MARNUS THE UNLIKELY HERO

With Australia searching for a breakthrough, you would expect the likes of Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon to be hunting for the final two wickets.

Instead, the honour went to eight-Test youngster Marnus Labuschagne who with dusk taking over at Old Trafford finally drew a false shot from Jack Leach - getting one to spit out of the rough and take an inside edge to Matthew Wade at bat pad.

It was a one-over spell from Labuschagne. But he proved to have balls of steel, which went a long way towards winning the Ashes for Australia.

 

 

 

LYON'S LONG WAIT

After struggling in the second innings at Headingley, Lyon went wicketless in the first innings at Old Trafford.

When he finally had Joe Denly out fending an offering to Marnus Labuschagne at bat pad - a key wicket - it had been 308 deliveries since his second, and final, in England's second innings at Leeds.

The lengthy wait was the seventh longest in Lyon's career.

 

ROY'S GATTING FACE

England survived 80 minutes into day two before Australia were able to get a sniff.

Of course, it was Pat Cummins who delivered with a pinpoint delivery seaming in to zip back and take the top of off-stump of Jason Roy.

 

Jason Roy was castled by Pat Cummins as his poor series form continued.
Jason Roy was castled by Pat Cummins as his poor series form continued.

 

Roy, who had battled courageously for his 31, threw his head back in equal parts frustration and admiration - but looked as mystified as Mike Gatting was to Shane Warne's 'ball of the century' at the same venue, that it had gone on to hit the stumps.

 

BUTTLER'S GATTING FACE

Roy wasn't the last England batsmen to be left mystified at the loss of his wicket.

The final recognised England batsman to fall was Jos Buttler and he too was truly baffled by the quality of delivery which knocked him over.

This time it was Josh Hazlewood performing the wizardry, with a peach that swung back a mile to cannon into the off stump - leaving Buttler, who had made 34 from a stoic 111 balls, speechless.

 

STINK IN THE CROWD

Things became progressively livelier as the day crept on, and England's batsmen battened down the hatches - and reached boiling point midway through the afternoon session.

 

 

The party stand - a giant 8500-capacity temporary stand square of the wicket which has become home to the Barmy Army and like-minded supporters - grew in voice.

But things got a bit too heated for some, with security called from all corners to come and break up a brawl with fists flying everywhere.

 

ENGLAND'S TIME-WASTING REACHES RARE LEVELS

England's famed time-wasting at Cardiff ten years ago, when Monty Panesar and James Anderson grimly held on for a draw, were revisited on Sunday.

Hoping for help from the Gods, in the form of bad light, England tried everything within their power to slow the game down and reduce the number of overs Australia would be able to bowl.

At their best, England had the team physio onto the ground to treat Jack Leach after he'd fended off a bouncer - claiming there was a glance off the batsman's helmet.

It burnt two minutes off the clock as Leach cleaned his glasses, spoke to the physio and had a handful of new helmets brought out to him.

 

 

But when Craig Overton was hit on the body shortly after, umpire Marais Erasmus stepped in and suggested there was no need for the physio to return.

 

HAWKEYE BAFFLES

The DRS process is never going to be a perfect one, but here was one incident which really raised eyebrows late in the day.

Josh Hazlewood appeared to have Craig Overton plumb LBW - with the paceman struck on the back pad dead in front of middle - but was denied by Marais Erasmus, who felt there'd been an inside edge.

Australia reviewed - and were relieved to see that wasn't the case, but then left stunned when HawkEye showed it to be sneaking down the legside.

It was a bit of magic HawkEye sorcery.

 

DRS' NEAR-BLUNDER

There was nearly a riot at Old Trafford when Craig Overton was given out LBW to an inswinger from Pat Cummins - despite the batsman appearing to get a thick inside edge.

Overton immediately reviewed and as replays on the big screen showed a big deflection off the bat the crowd roared and the Australian fielders when back into position.

But third umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge wasn't finished with his analysis, asking for more views and asking for "anything that can help me?".

Ultimately he found no conclusive evidence … until it went to HawkEye which confirmed the delivery was hitting outside the line. Overton survived. Riot avoided.

 

'SUPER' LYON'S PAINFUL INJURY

From day one, Australia had predicted Nathan Lyon would play a key role at Old Trafford on a pitch that was dry from the first ball - and taking spin inside 15 overs.

On that front, he's underperformed - going wicketless in England's first innings - but there was a reasonable explanation for why he went off the boil.

He split his spinning finger during England's first innings and, in order to continue to bowl, had sealed the wound with superglue.

Ouch.

 

Nathan Lyon was below his best at Old Trafford, but with the mitigation of a split spinning finger.
Nathan Lyon was below his best at Old Trafford, but with the mitigation of a split spinning finger.

 

 

HARMY'S SAVAGE SMITH SLEDGE

Steve Harmison has made the extraordinary claim that Australian batting wizard Steve Smith will not be remembered for his incredible feats on the field - and only as a cheat.

Smith served a 12-month ban from the Cape Town ball-tampering incident, with Cricket Australia deeming he'd shown a lack of leadership to stop the illegal activity - which was apparently cooked up by David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, who also served bans.

Despite the fact Smith was never implicated in any of the actual ball-tampering, Harmison said his name would be forever tarnished.

"I don't think you can forgive him," Harmison told talkSPORT.

"When you're known as a cheat - and he is, I'm not going to sugar-coat it - that's on your CV. You're marked and you take it to the grave.

"Whatever Steve Smith does, he'll always be remembered for what happened in South Africa.

"That's something he's got to live with."