In front of a packed house at The Oval on Monday (July 31), England squared the Ashes with a 49-run triumph after Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali completely changed the course of the game in the final session. Australia lost early wickets on Day 5 of the fifth Test as they chased 384 but were able to regain momentum owing to a 95-run stand between Steve Smith and Travis Head. Australia opened the day at 135/0. Australia had made strong progress in terms of scoring despite the second session being postponed due to rain, hitting 103 runs in the first session’s 28 overs. In the final session, where 47 overs were anticipated to be bowled, they required 146 runs.
However, England didn’t require that many since Moeen and Woakes worked together to start Australia’s collapse, which saw them lose seven wickets for 70 runs. Stuart Broad took the final two wickets, capping out his Test career with 604 career wickets, giving himself and the series a fitting conclusion.
After Australia lost a couple of quick wickets and slid to 169/3, Head joined Smith at the crease. Head struggled at first, getting repeatedly knocked outside off before launching into the action with consistent boundaries. Smith occasionally hit the fence when their cooperation increased over 50 and they lowered the goal below 150.
Ben Stokes timed his jump well to cling on to the ball, but there was some late drama in the final over before lunch when Moeen Ali got Smith to glove one to leg-slip. Stokes attempted to throw the ball, but he struck his right knee and the ball popped out.
In the final session, Woakes found movement right away and a few times, while Moeen was making a quick turn, went beyond Smith’s outer edge. Woakes also tried Head’s outside edge, but the left-hander hit the session’s opening four while playing one past mid-on. However, in just a few overs, Moeen and Woakes significantly altered the tenor of the game.
While Smith collapsed after reaching fifty and was squared up by Woakes to edge to slip, Moeen enticed Head into a drive and caused him to edge to slide. Then Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Starc were eliminated by Moeen and Woakes, dropping Australia from 264/3 to 275/7.
The pursuit was attempted to be revived by Alex Carey and Pat Cummins, who each hit a boundary. However, Cummins was unsuccessful in his attempt to lift Moeen’s short ball, giving the spinner his third wicket. In his final spell, Broad was reintroduced into the attack and bowled alongside Moeen.
Carey and Todd Murphy, who put on a well-paced pair to keep Australia interested and England dissatisfied, presented opposition to the England bowlers. Coming down the track, Carey also hit a six off Moeen, and Murphy drew a Broad delivery for a four. However, Broad ended England’s wait when he got Carey to edge to the keeper and nearly had Murphy as well, had it not been for Crawley taking the catch. The ideal conclusion materialized quickly when Broad caught Carey from behind to secure himself a victory and a 2-2 Ashes result.
Before that, Broad and Woakes tested the Australian openers at The Oval in cloudy circumstances, which helped the bowlers because the ball had been altered and had much more shine. A breakthrough was eventually made by Woakes, causing David Warner (60) to lag behind. When Broad challenged Marnus Labuschagne’s leg-before call, England was denied a review. But a short while later, Usman Khawaja burned a review when he returned to the hut following a well-made 72 and got caught in front by an incoming delivery from Woakes.
Compared to his performance in the first inning, Labuschagne entered the game with much more purpose. However, Mark Wood, who ventured outside of the crease in search of the edge, terminated his promising stand with Smith.
After the fourth Test was tied, Australia, who had won the Ashes, asked England to bat first and quickly put them in difficulties. However, the hosts were able to post 283 in their first innings in less than 55 overs thanks to Harry Brook’s counterattacking 85 as well as some crucial runs from Woakes and Wood. With Smith scoring 71 in their first essay, Australia almost batted through twice as many overs to reach 295 runs. In the second innings, England scored 395 runs in just 81.5 overs thanks in large part to the contributions of Joe Root (91), Jonny Bairstow (78), and Zak Crawley (73). Before Woakes and Moeen batted through their order and Broad performed his final dance to put a fitting conclusion to a closely contested Ashes, Australia responded with a century opening stand.