England defeated Australia at Headingley on the fourth day to keep the Ashes alive thanks to an outstanding partnership between Harry Brook and Chris Woakes and a thrilling brief appearance from Mark Wood. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow’s key dismissals by Mitchell Starc following lunch, when England still needed 80 runs, gave the impression that they were in trouble. However, an outstanding 59-run combination between Brook and Woakes completely changed the course of the game. Starc did come back to finish his five-for and put England’s party in jeopardy, but the hosts miraculously prevailed to win by three wickets.
When the fourth day started, England required 224 runs, and Australia seemed to be playing it safe by giving both Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley easy singles. However, Starc gave Australia the advantage right away when Duckett was caught in front and pinned. Moeen Ali was sent to the third spot by England, but that plan backfired when Starc managed to get one past his defense and rattle the stumps. Australia received a much-needed boost from the two early wickets.
Runs soon began to flow, with Crawley consistently finding the limits to climb into the 40s. However, Australia didn’t let England escape as Mitchell Marsh joined the attack to locate the outside edge of Crawley after Pat Cummins had taken Joe Root with a delivery that was delivered down the leg side. England eventually scored over 100 runs in the morning session despite taking four wickets, and Brook got going quickly.
Despite the fact that the Test was completely opened up by the dramatic session, England still believed they could get the final 98 runs thanks to the presence of Ben Stokes. But with the dismissals of Stokes and Bairstow, Starc completely tipped the match in Australia’s favor. When pursuing a wide ball, Bairstow inside-edged one onto his stumps while the England captain tamely feathered one behind to the keeper to a delivery sent down the leg side.
With 80 runs still needed and only the lower order and Brook left to bat, England was within 80 runs away from losing the Ashes. Woakes, though, was ready to play his strokes in order to eat into the objective. At the other end, Brook took just 67 deliveries to reach fifty, while he quickly struck three fours to sprint to 14 off 18 balls. Then Australia used a short-ball strategy to attempt and break the partnership, but both hitters were able to counter it by hitting the ball into open gaps and routinely collecting singles.
The target was eventually lowered below 50, which was always going to give the pursuing team a psychological boost. In order to help England go closer to victory, Brook continued to gain confidence and started hitting the boundary more frequently. This helped England before Cummins’ final gamble paid off. With 24 runs still to be scored by England when Starc reappeared, Brook mistimed a drive and was caught for 75, giving the bowler his sixth wicket.
When Wood came out swinging as he did in the first innings, Australia’s chances of batting through the tail were severely damaged. The enthusiastic audience then encouraged him as he took on a short ball from Cummins and sent it over deep backward square leg for a six. Before Woakes finished it off, he drove Starc through the covers to move England even closer. The series will now take a nine-day vacation before continuing.