|Scorecard:||England v Australia|
|Event:||Australia in British Isles 2013|
DateLine: 25th August 2013
By Andy Jalil at The Oval.
In association with INVESTEC.
London – England brought an exciting end to the last day of the series with a breath-taking run chase which saw them just 21 short with 24 balls remaining and the sell-out crowd in a frenzy as the umpires’ light meters made the decision in the drawn Test.
With the Ashes comfortably retained and the series won by England prior to the final Test, Australia three nil down and anxious to salvage something from the series, attempted, more in hope than having any realistic chance, of forcing an unlikely victory. With this in mind, Australia captain Michael Clarke, after a hurried second innings, set England 227 to win in 44 overs, with at least 15 to be bowled in the last hour.
England chased the runs in spectacular style with Kevin Pietersen in particular batting in his typically aggressive manner. He had brought up his half century from 36 balls as England progressed rapidly towards their goal.
By standards of Test cricket the rate of scoring a little over five runs an over would not be the simplest of tasks, nevertheless, England took up the challenge and went for the target although they could have settled for a draw with batting in a defensive mode. They scored 22 from the first five overs, losing the wicket of Joe Root for 11. Alastair Cook went on to score 34 before he fell lbw with the total on 86.
While England were not much behind the clock at that stage, the third wicket stand between Jonathan Trott and Pietersen raised the tempo with the latter entertaining a capacity crowd in a display of free hitting. They brought up the 50 of their stand in 48 balls of which Pietersen had 45 from 29 balls. His innings of 62 from 55 balls took his side to 163 for three and with Trott lbw for 59 England still needed 56.
Ian Bell and Chris Woakes’ exhilarating stand of 36 from 28 balls saw the home side to 206 for five as Bell on 17 from as many balls was run out leaving his partner unbeaten also on 17 from 13 balls. With that the light meters came out with a chorus of boos from the crowd.
Earlier, it took Australia 28.2 overs to claim the six remaining wickets after a delayed start by half-an-hour while the ground dried from overnight rain. With overs carried forward and no play on the fourth day, 98 overs were lost in the match. This seemed more to Australia’s disappointment as with such an impressive first innings total they had given themselves a chance to end the series with a victory rather than go down 3-0. Their large total had also lessened England’s chances of forcing a win which would have given them a four-Test to nil win for the first time in an Ashes series.
At the start of the fifth day England lost the first wicket of the morning when Chris Woakes, on 25 in his first Test innings, was held at second slip and Ian Bell’s attempted leg glance gave Brad Haddin, a catch behind the stumps, providing James Faulkner with his maiden Test wicket. Shortly before lunch Stuart Broad played the wrong line to a straight ball from Mitchell Starc and that was 315 for seven, having resumed the innings on 247 for four.
Within 40 minutes into the second session England had lost three wickets all to Faulkner. Matt Prior fell to a diving catch by Starc for 47 from 57 balls. James Anderson, on four, was held by Haddin who equalled Rod Marsh’s record of 28 Ashes catches in a series. Finally Graeme Swann’s knock of 34 from 24 balls ended giving Faulkner four for 51 on his debut Test.
Australia began their second innings with a lead of 115 and that was extended to 226 when they declared on 111 for six in which Michael Clarke was 28 not out scored at a-run-a-ball. The batting order had been reshuffled for quick scoring to have time for an attempt at dismissing England to force a win. Australia faced just 23 overs before declaring at tea. Broad had four for 43 which included a spell of four for 17 in 22 balls.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2013 Andy Jalil)