England v Australia: Fifth Test, Day Four: England level series despite Wade ton
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England v Australia: Fifth Test, Day Four: England level series despite Wade ton

Stuart Broad and Jack Leach took eight Australia wickets to level the series on Day Four at The Oval as England claimed a 135-run victory.

harry-wright
Harry Wright

Stuart Broad and Jack Leach took four wickets apiece as England bowled Australia out on day four at The Oval to level the Ashes 2-2.

Matthew Wade’s brilliant century gave Australia a fighting chance after being set 399 for victory, but the tourists were all out for 263.

Broad finished with figures of 4-62, including the wicket of Steve Smith who scored just 23, whilst Leach took 4-49 including the last two wickets in consecutive balls.

Australia wrap up the tail quickly

Australia took nine balls to pick up one of their two remaining wickets in the morning session as Pat Cummins took the short route to Jofra Archer and strangled him down the leg side. 

Caught by Tim Paine behind the stumps, the Australia skipper was more delighted by the fact he’d managed to get a review right after Marais Erasmus initially gave the thinnest of nicks off the glove not out than he was to remove Archer for three.

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The short-pitched bowling continued when Broad arrived at number 11 and he answered by dispatching the Aussie paceman into the stands twice before Leach dollied up to Josh Hazelwood off Nathan Lyon.

It was the off-spinner’s fourth of the innings, but the left the tourists needing 399 for victory after reaching 329 all out.

England get the key wickets early

A 40-minute spell either side of lunch paved the way for England to claim victory.

Firstly, some brilliant work from Leach and Jonny Bairstow 15 minutes before lunch saw the back of Marnus Labuschagne for 14. 

The left-arm spinner’s flighted delivery drew Labuschagne forward, it spun past the bat of the Australian number three and Bairstow was there with lightning hands to remove the bails with Labuschagne’s foot dangling above the crease.

Before play Joe Root said despite not bowling, Ben Stokes would find a way to get into the game. 25 minutes after the restart, he was proved right.

Excellent captaincy from the England skipper saw Stokes positioned at leg slip and when Smith clipped a Broad delivery loosely off his hip, Stokes was there with a smart diving catch to his left and Smith was on his way for 23. It was the first time he’d been dismissed for less than 80 in the series.

Before that, Marcus Harris saw his off stump cartwheeling back towards the Vauxhall Road End as Broad made the breakthrough. 

David Warner had reached double figures (11) for the second time in the series, but he also fell to Broad for the seventh time this summer when he was caught by Rory Burns in the slips, Australia 29-2.

England go in search of the rest

The wickets of Labuschagne and Smith left Australia reeling at 85-4, which prompted Jim Maxwell to say on Test Match Special: ‘399 looks as high as Everest right now. They’re gonna need some oxygen to get there!’

Wade, greeted with plenty of chat from the England team, wasn’t going to die wondering. He was after Leach from ball one and provided some steely resistance for the Aussies, he and Mitch Marsh batting for an hour without reply from England.

Chances came and went as Chris Woakes saw Marsh caught by another stunning catch by Burns at third slip, but was given a reprieve by Woakes’ first no-ball in over 5000 balls of test cricket.

A third umpire review for a catch when Marsh hit the ball off silly point’s foot and over to short leg proved unfruitful and Wade had passed 50 from just 65 balls when Marsh was finally removed.

15 minutes before the tea break Root picked up his second wicket of the series. Marsh tentatively prodded at a ball on leg stump and Jos Buttler was there at short leg to do the rest.

The battle heats up after tea

It was more of the same after tea as England wasted a review on Wade that proved to be pitching outside leg stump before he hooked Archer into the stands to move onto 73.

Paine was going along nicely at the other end on 20 from 19 balls, whilst up the other end, words and looks were exchanged between Wade and Archer as neither wanted to give an inch.

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It took 40 minutes for a breakthrough. Leach, who’d bowled well without much reward, span a ball that hit Paine in front and after an age Kumar Dhamersena decided the ball had pitched in line. The keeper was on his way despite another wasted Australian review, Paine had used up all his review luck earlier in the day. 

Archer’s eight over spell was fantastic. He hit Wade, who was ducking and diving, but at no point did he look like getting out. The battle was intense. He worked Broad into the leg side to go through to his fourth test century and second of the series.

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Cummins came and went. He struggled to nine from 41 balls and was caught behind off Broad, who picked up his fourth wicket of the day. 

England thought they had the big wicket of the day when Wade was given out caught by Stokes off Root, but DRS showed he had hit the floor and not the ball.

Leach wraps things up

Eventually, Root did it. Bairstow claimed his second stumping of the innings and Wade had to go for a magnificent 117, Root had been bowling full and wide to tempt Wade, who had come down the pitch but was beaten by the flight and spin and had to depart.

The England captain was in the action again in the very next over. Leach deservedly had a third as Lyon picked Root out with a sweep shot at square leg and left England needing one wicket to win.

They got it with the very next ball. The same combination wrapped up the game for England and Leach picked up his fourth as Hazelwood clipped to midwicket, where an awaiting Root swooped to his left to finish things with a great low catch.

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