After declaring on 492-9 in the first innings, Michael Clarke decided to declare during the Aussies’ second innings as they pressed for a win in the series. Having got England out after lunch for 377, the tourists led by 115 during their second innings, adding 111 for six wickets as they tried to build a competitive target. With Clarke declaring at tea, England had 44 overs in which to reach the 227 target, meaning they would have to reach a run rate of 5.15 per over. Having been criticised for their defensive tactics in the first innings, England went about trying to get a 4-0 series win, something never previously accomplished by an England side. Clarke’s decision to declare almost backfired with an outstanding partnership from Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott giving England a glimmer of hope, with the former hitting the hosts’ quickest-ever half century in Ashes history, taking just 36 balls to reach the milestone. Pietersen was eventually caught on the boundary by David Warner off the bowling of Ryan Harris on 62. As the clock ticked on, the light dimmed and when Ian Bell was run out by Mitchell Starc, the umpires took guaged the light, and after some interference from Clarke, came to the conclusion with just 4.1 overs left to play that the conditions were too dark to continue. England only needed 22 more runs to win and unsurprisingly it led to a chorus of boos at The Oval.
Australia’s Brad Haddin set a new record for dismissals by a wicket-keeper in a series, taking 29, whilst the debutant James Faulkner impressed with the ball. Haddin started the day’s play on 26 dismissals, but by catching Joe Root off the bowling of Ryan Harris at the start of England’s second innings, he broke fellow Australian Rodney March’s record of 28. It was Faulkner who provided two of the catches for Haddin in the first England innings as he took four wickets, including man-of-the-series Ian Bell and James Anderson. He also got Matt Prior as the Englishman tried to hit big was unable to get hold of the ball as well as the final wicket of the hosts’ innings as he uprooted Graeme Swann’s middle stump. Faulkner’s display was the best of Australia’s bowling attack during the England’s first innings, posting figures of 4-51. He capped off a positive debut by dismissing Cook and Trott in their second innings.
After losing the whole of day four due to the weather, a draw was looking like the inevitable outcome. With England starting the day on 247-4, the visitors were hoping to force their hosts into a follow-on which would aid their slim chances of getting a point on the board in the series. During the 21 overs, Australia picked up three wickets but the hosts were able to get past 293 required to avoid the follow-on, finishing the session on 350-7. The session showed a change of strategy by England after coming in for criticism for their slow and stubborn tactics they implemented on day three, only scoring 247 throughout the day’s play. Graeme Swann’s innings highlighted this change after hitting 24 off just 11 balls. There was a great moment for Faulkner, who claimed his first Test wicket with the dismissal of the man of the series, Bell, for 45 as the 31-year-old clipped a ball down the leg side only for a Brad Haddin to make a great low diving catch. Ryan Harris also got Chris Woakes after he was caught in the slips by captain Clarke on 25 and Mitchell Starc clean bowled Stuart Broad on nine too.
Having taken just the one wicket for 96 runs in Australia’s first innings, the Warwickshire all-rounder had a real chance to show what he could do with the bat on his England debut. However, Woakes, who ended day three on 19 was only able to add six runs to his score before falling victim to the bowling of Harris as he edged a delivery into Clarke in the slips, failing to play his way in and batting for an extended period. Although Woakes took a wicket in the first innings, he has not exactly shone in this final test and still has a lot of convincing to do if he is nail down a place for the return series in November. He may be able to make the provisional squad but the 24-year-old could struggle to start the series Down Under. Woakes is likely to be behind Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett in terms of bowling options, whereas as Jonny Bairstow should be the first-choice to bat at number six. However, when Woakes came to the crease in the second innings with England needing to keep up their run-rate, he showed composure to form a solid partnership with fellow Warwickshire team-mate Ian Bell before his partner fell and the umpires brought proceedings to an end.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge