|Men’s Ashes: England v Australia, fifth Specsavers Test (day four of five)|
|England 294 & 329: Denly 94, Stokes 67, Lyon 4-69|
|Australia 225 & 263: Wade 117, Leach 4-49, Broad 4-62|
|England won by 135 runs; series drawn at 2-2|
England ended their memorable summer by earning a 2-2 draw in the Ashes with a 135-run defeat of Australia in the fifth Test.
On a beautifully sunny day at The Oval, England set Australia 399 to win and bowled them out for 263 to square the contest with their oldest enemies in a year when they lifted the World Cup for the first time.
Australia retain the urn they won in 2017-18 but miss out on a first series win in England since 2001, while an Ashes series is drawn for the first time in 47 years.
From 313-8 overnight, England added 16 to be all out for 329 and leave Australia in need of pulling off the highest run-chase in an Ashes Test since 1948.
In conditions that remained relatively good for batting, there was the slightest chance that Steve Smith could end his prolific summer with one more stroke of genius.
There was dismay, then delight, when Smith turned Stuart Broad to a diving Ben Stokes at leg slip for 23 – his lowest score of the series by 57 runs.
England were still held up by Mathew Wade’s combative century, but after he was stumped off Joe Root, the last three wickets fell for four runs, with victory completed by Root’s stunning grab of Josh Hazlewood.
It means they end coach Trevor Bayliss’ reign with a win, while both sides have 56 points and sit joint-fourth in the World Test Championship.
Endings and beginnings
Even though the Ashes were already gone, captain Root challenged England to begin their preparations for the tour down under in 2021-22 in this match.
They were helped by Australia’s decision to field first, strange team selection and dropped catches, but also earned this win through the batting of Joe Denly and Jos Buttler, and a collectively incisive bowling attack.
If Broad removing David Warner for the seventh time in the series was expected, the scale of the celebration inside The Oval was only surpassed when Smith fell.
There was the theatre of Jofra Archer’s duel with Wade, complete with crossed words and long stares, and one more magical moment when Root took his wonderful grab as the shadows lengthened.
No doubt it was the dream for England to lift both the World Cup and the Ashes, but being crowned world champions for the first time and drawing with Australia will be regarded as a success.
Still, Bayliss’ successor has immediate work to do – finally nailing down a top order, getting the best from Root as batsman and captain, deciding the best make-up of the attack – starting with the tour to New Zealand in December.
Brilliant Broad leads England home
Broad has been reborn this summer, leading the attack in the absence of James Anderson and ending the series with 23 wickets – the first England bowler to take more than 20 in four separate contests against Australia.
He had already removed Marcus Harris’ off stump with a wonderful delivery before he turned his attention to Warner, the man he has tortured all summer.
An edge ended in the hands of third slip Rory Burns and left with Warner with 95 runs in 10 innings, the lowest aggregate for any opener playing every one of a five-match series in the history of Test cricket.
The crucial moment, though, was the removal of Smith. After a summer when he has racked up 774 runs and England exhausted every conceivable plan, one finally worked.
Broad’s delivery into the hips was turned around the corner, where the lurking Stokes grasped the ball just above the turf.
When Pat Cummins joined Wade to eat up 15 overs, the prospect of a Monday finish was growing, only for Broad to return and find Cummins’ edge, signalling the beginning of the end.
Wade defies England after Smith’s final bow
Smith had gone through the World Cup and the beginning of this series being booed by the English crowds for his part in the sandpaper scandal.
When he left the crease for the final time, it was to a standing ovation, The Oval recognising that Smith’s brilliance has been the deciding factor in the final destination of the urn.
By that time, Wade was already into his stride, arriving with the intent to use his feet and get after left-arm spinner Jack Leach in particular.
Wade and Archer are team-mates with Australia side Hobart Hurricanes, but the bad blood seems to go back to an on-field exchange during the fourth Test.
Even as he was approaching the century, Wade was discomforted in a thrilling spell where Archer touched 95mph and, after he passed three figures, the left-hander threw caution to the wind.
He survived a missed stumping, a dropped catch at slip and successfully overturned being given caught at slip, all off Root, before he finally ran past one and was stumped by Jonny Bairstow for 117.
In the next over, Nathan Lyon turned Leach to square leg and, from the next ball, Root’s catch at mid-wicket gave Leach 4-49 to go with Broad’s 4-62.
‘Australia deserved to retain Ashes’ – what they said
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “Australia deserved to retain the Ashes.
“England have got to celebrate the fact that a few days ago Australia retained the Ashes and we all expected Australia to blow them away this week.
“With the ball in particular they have been exceptional.”
England captain Joe Root, speaking to TMS: “I thought we were brilliant. To bounce back from a very difficult and emotional week, to come and play in the manner we have, the team has character in abundance.
“This was more of a template of how to play moving forward. It is a step in the right direction. I am very proud of everyone’s effort throughout the summer.”
England man of the series Ben Stokes: “It was disappointing to know we couldn’t get the Ashes back but we came here with a lot of pride and looking to draw the series.
“I’ll look back on winning at Headingley in a few years’ time with fond memories probably, but I’d swap it for winning for the Ashes still.”
Australia captain Tim Paine on TMS: “The urn is what we came to get. We knew the rules around the Ashes and a draw is good enough. It’s mission accomplished, which is fantastic.
“I don’t think we ran out of gas. We were outplayed and dropped catches.”