England regain the Ashes
Sunday 23 August 2009
England regained the Ashes after beating Australia by 197 runs Sunday on the fourth day of the deciding fifth test to take the five-match series 2-1.
Michael Hussey was the last man out after tea at The Oval, caught for 121 by Alastair Cook off Graeme Swann as Australia were dismissed for 348, falling well short of the 546 victory target set by England.
England captain Andrew Strauss was jubilant.
"This is a special moment for all of us. The players have had to dig pretty deep and show a lot of character and fight. It hasn't sunk in," Strauss said. "I want to thank Ricky Ponting and his players. They have been great ambassadors for their country and played the game in the right spirit."
Swann claimed 4-120 and Steve Harmison picked up 3-54 but it was two run outs in six balls — including that of captain Ricky Ponting — that put England on the way to victory and sent allrounder Andrew Flintoff into test cricket retirement as a winner.
"We've given our all throughout the series but we haven't been good enough," Ponting said. "Full credit to England for seizing the key moments and they deserve everything they have got. It's been a great series and one we have all enjoyed."
Hussey scored his first test century since last October but his 330-minute fighting effort that may have saved his test career was in a losing cause.
England's talismanic all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was able to bow of test cricket with the fairytale ending he had hoped for.
Australia was always behind the game once it replied to England's first innings 332 with a below-par 160 when Stuart Broad took an inspired 5-37 and Swann 4-38.
The tourists would also regret not being able to win the first test in Cardiff when they failed to take England's final wicket. That match was drawn, England won the second test at Lord's, the third test was drawn before Australia leveled the series in Leeds.
There had been periods in the day when it looked like Australia might achieve a spectacular rearguard action to stave off defeat or claim the win.
Hussey, who survived two drops by Paul Collingwood at slip to Swann on 21 and 55, put on partnerships of 127 with Ponting and 91 with Haddin but neither were significant enough to deny England.
The pivotal sequence came after lunch when Ponting and his vice-captain Michael Clarke were run out.
Ponting, who received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd after having been booed to the crease in previous tests, was out for 66 after Hussey called him for a quick single.
"At least I got a nice cheer today and Andrew Flintoff asked me when I got out in the middle whether I had hired a PR company," Ponting said.
Mid-on fielder Flintoff picked the ball up cleanly and unleashed a powerful direct throw at the stumps that left Ponting a meter short of his ground.
Ponting was disconsolate as England celebrated wildly at the key breakthrough. It might yet be Ponting's last Ashes test in England. He would be 38 in 2013 on the next tour.
The England team was jumping with joy again next over when Australia's top run-scorer Clarke departed the same way.
He clipped Swann towards square leg and set off for a run not expecting the ball to hit the ankle of short leg fielder Alastair Cook and dribble back towards him.
England captain Andrew Strauss reacted quickly and threw at the stumps, before the third umpire gave him out with Clarke's bat only on the line.
Australia had gone from 217-2 and looking relatively comfortable despite a crumbling pitch to 220-4.
That became 236-5 shortly after when Marcus North was stumped by Matt Prior off Swann. He attempted a sweep shot only for the ball to bounce up to Prior, who grabbed it and dislodged the bails before North could place his back foot behind the line.
Before lunch, Simon Katich offered no stroke to Swann, expecting more sharp turn but was out lbw by a straight delivery. He made 43 in 68 balls. Shane Watson departed three balls later for 40, trapped lbw by Stuart Broad.
England was also thankful to its debutant Jonathan Trott for his composed innings of 119 on Saturday that allowed his side to set Australia such an intimidating target.
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