5 Ashes talking points as Anderson sees out dramatic final over to earn a draw
England managed to escape with an unlikely draw on day five of the fourth Ashes Test to end Australia ‘s hopes of completing a 5-0 whitewash.
Zak Crawley and Ben Stokes both made half-centuries for England as they battled hard, before Stuart Broad and James Anderson saw them over the line for a draw.
Having safely reached the close of play on day four without losing any wickets, England got off to the worst possible start on day five when Haseeb Hameed fell for his sixth consecutive single figure score, getting caught behind off Scott Boland for nine.
Crawley, meanwhile, looked good on his way to a half-century, with the 23-year-old content to play his shots and looking confident against an imposing Australian attack.
However, wickets continued to fall at the other end as Dawid Malan joined Hameed in departing for single figures, getting bowled by Nathan Lyon for just four.
After Joe Root safely avoided the ignominy of getting a pair for the first time in Test cricket, Crawley’s impressive knock came to an end.
Having reached 77, Crawley was out lbw to Cameron Green after getting pinned on the crease by a yorker.
With England reduced to 96-3 and still in the first session of the day, the first member of their walking wounded middle order came out to bat in the form of Ben Stokes.
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Stokes injured his side while bowling earlier in the Test and was in visible discomfort while making 66 in the first innings.
Despite the injury, he battled hard once again on day five and shared a 60-run partnership with Root, before Boland got the England captain caught behind for 24.
Stokes went on to pass fifty for the second time, before getting caught at slip off Lyon for 60 in the final session.
Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler battled through to face the second new ball, with Australia needing to take five more wickets to win and having a minimum of 22 overs to do so.
Pat Cummins promptly made the key breakthrough for Australia, getting Buttler out lbw with a brilliant inswinger that exposed England’s tail.
The Australia captain then followed it up with an outstanding swinging yorker in the same over that sent Mark Wood packing for a duck.
With Bairstow the only recognised batter left, Steve Smith put down a sharp low catch off Starc that would have seen him depart.
However, the drop did not cost Australia dearly, with Boland getting Bairstow caught at silly mid-off just six overs later.
Jack Leach and Stuart Broad then survived 28 and 29 balls respectively as they took the game to the final three overs, with the umpires forcing Australia to turn to spin from both ends due to bad light.
Smith was tasked with bowling two of the final three overs and he picked up his first Test wicket since 2016, getting Leach caught at slip to leave England nine down with twelve balls to go.
Broad defended Lyon’s penultimate over, leaving James Anderson to try and see out the final over from Smith.
And the veteran number 11 managed just that, successfully defending all six balls to earn England a draw.
Here are five talking points from the day’s play.
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After a woeful 2021 which saw him average just 10.81 in Test cricket, Crawley attempted to put that behind him with an impressive 77 in England’s second innings.
Crawley was tipped to do well in the Ashes, with Shane Warne telling Mirror Sport back in September that he felt the 23-year-old had “a good game” well-suited to Australian conditions.
In making 77, Crawley notched the highest score by an England opener on this tour and it was only the second time in 18 Test innings since his double hundred against Pakistan that he had passed 30.
Former Australia captains Ricky Ponting and Ian Chappell both gave the youngster a massive vote of confidence, with Ponting telling Channel 7: “I like the look of this young man, there’s something about him.
“He seems to be a little different with his attitude and intent than most of the other English batsman we’ve seen on trial in this series so far.”
Chappell, meanwhile, told BBC Test Match Special: “Crawley is the future of England. You would want to go a long way with him before you drop him. You don’t want to talk technique with him. You just have to keep his confidence up.”
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Burns to replace Hameed in Hobart?
After getting caught behind off Boland for nine, Hameed has now recorded single-figure scores in his last six innings and it may be time to take him out of the firing line.
He began the series with a pair of promising starts in Brisbane, but has scored just 25 runs since then and is averaging a meagre 10.
Despite getting dropped after just two Tests having scored 51 runs at an average of 12.75, Rory Burns may well find himself recalled for the final Test.
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Malan’s form drops off
Since making back-to-back 80s in Brisbane and Adelaide, Malan has made scores of 20, 14, 0, 3 and 4.
He remains England’s second leading run scorer in the series though, highlighting just how bad their batting has been, and his dismissal on day five was a poor one.
Malan was caught on the crease against Lyon and failed to move his feet, getting bowled by a delivery he really should have got forward to.
“Malan looked surprised,” Chappell said of his dismissal. “I’m not sure why. He’s missed a ball he should have seen a lot of. Lyon bogs him down too much and he doesn’t look to score off him.”
Having looked impressive in the first two Tests, Malan now looks to be feeling the effects of bubble life, having been on tour since the T20 World Cup began in September and with his pregnant wife back home in England.
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England’s injured trio fight
Three members of England’s middle order were all carrying injuries heading into their innings, with Stokes suffering an apparent side strain, Bairstow injuring his thumb and Buttler taking a blow to the hand while keeping wicket.
The trio could all miss the final Test in Hobart as a result of their injuries, but they all showed defiance as they attempted to help England save the game in Sydney.
Stokes scored his second half-century of the match despite still visibly struggling with his side, before falling to Lyon for 60.
Buttler stuck it out for a gutsy 38 deliveries, while Bairstow followed up his first innings ton with a 105-ball 41 that took the game into the final hour.
Green an impressive prospect
The 22-year-old is clearly a huge talent that Australia are willing to invest in for the future and it is easy to see why.
Green has impressed with the ball in this series so far, but had struggled with the bat up until this Test when he scored an impressive 74 batting alongside Usman Khawaja in the second innings.
On day five, he bowled well once again, picking up 1-38 and removing Crawley with an excellent yorker.
Green’s height is a natural advantage when bowling and he is also capable of reaching 90mph+, with CricViz revealing only Wood and Starc have hit those speeds more consistently this series.
Having now made a contribution with the bat, Green will be desperate to kick on and become Australia’s answer to Stokes.