Trailing by 90 runs and with just 3 wickets in hand, Australia would need a miracle if they were to take the game past tea, let alone if the game was to be saved. England simply had to come out and adopt a professional attitude, and the ashes would be theirs.
Ben Stokes began the day with 5 wickets, searching for his best career bowling figures, while Mark Wood was given the first over from the pavilion end. Only one run was added to the overnight score of 241 by the time Stokes got his sixth victim of the innings. Starc was caught by Ian Bell in the slips, the Durham all rounder once again displaying his ability to swing the ball with great control.
Hazlewood wasn’t able to add anything significant in terms of Aussie resistance, as he was bowled by Wood for 0. A brilliant full delivery had England requiring just one wicket to regain the ashes. Adam Voges reached his 50, giving the few travelling Australian fans who were still at the ground something to applaud. 250 was brought up, before Wood had Lyon chopping on, dismantling his middle stump. A win by an innings and 78 runs wasn’t even remotely flattering, with Australia arguably lucky to have got that close to the hosts’ total. England had regained the ashes, and fully merited their 3-1 scoreline.
Regardless of any talk of the toss being a little bit too pivotal, England have outplayed Australia in three out of the four tests. The Aussies have been very poor in their last two batting displays, seemingly either not learning from their past mistakes or choosing to ignore them. There does seem to be a certain reluctance from certain Australian batsmen to put their ego to one side and just ‘sit in’ for a while when the opposition are bowling well. If teams are to improve in foreign conditions, they will be sure not to look to this example set by Australia. If ever there were a ‘how not to do it in England’ DVD, the majority of the footage would probably come from Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. Michael Clarke does receive my sympathy, as his horrendous touch with the bat has ended his test career. A brilliant player for Australia and a genuinely good person, he always wears his heart on his sleeve and is never shy of letting his emotion come through. All the best for life after playing cricket.
As poor as Australia were, England have had a fantastic series. As Ben Stokes’ 6-for reflected, all four of the main seamers have taken 5 wicket hauls across the four games. Mark Wood has not done that but has bowled well and, in England at least, the bowling attack looks as good as any on the world cricket circuit. Jimmy Anderson has been as outrageously skilful as expected, while Stuart Broad has had his best summer in an England shirt. The latter has consistently hit a full length, and will fill England fans with confidence that he can lead the attack going forward. Finn’s revival has been hugely refreshing, while Stokes has proved that he can step into the shoes of great all rounders of the past.
In terms of the batting line-up, Joe Root has moved to number 1 in the world, and Ian Bell has hit some form at number 3. Cook looks back to somewhere near his best, with Moeen Ali consistently pushing for a promotion up the order. The real test now will come against spin on tour to the UAE, where England face Pakistan. All that is for a later article though. Now, all that can possibly be appropriate is celebration, followed by victory at the Oval, followed by celebration again. Despite the conviction with which certain pundits predicted a 5-0 scoreline in favour of the Aussies, the men from down under have been absolutely hammered.
England regain the ashes, and in some style too.