England has regained the Ashes by beating the Aussies by a huge margin of 197 runs in the fifth and the final test match played at the Oval. Australia needed to bat the whole of two days to get to their target of 546, but could only capitulate for a 348 despite a fighting, gritty century by Michael Hussey and his stand with Ricky Ponting.
The Aussies had resumed from their overnight score of 80/0, with a very outside chance of getting to their target, but what would have put paid to their chances was the two early wickets of both their openers, Simon Katich and Shane Watson. The pair, who had looked absolutely comfortable overnight, needed to get set in, but hadn’t had much time to gauge the pitch again this morning and were lbw to Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad respectively. >
The fight-back was always on the cards, and it came in the form of Ponting and Hussey. Ponting’s form had tapered off after a good beginning to the series, while Hussey’s has been a bone of contention throughout the series. However, this time around, they took their time on the wicket, judged the balls outside the off-stump and came on the front-foot whenever they could to disallow the balls from scooting through. >
At 217/2, the English team would have been on the verge of breaking into a cold sweat with the prospects of the duo taking centrestage, but Andrew Flintoff had his final say in the game with a direct throw from mid-on that ran Ponting out. The call had been Hussey’s but underestimating the burly man’s arm had been a mistake. And like it had always happened on this pitch, one scalp brought in two, but not in a manner that Michael Clarke followed soon after; run-out, again!
Two run-outs is the last thing a captain needs in a test match, and more so in a game that is as vital as this. Clarke flicked the ball and thought that the ball had passed the short-leg, but it only managed to ricochet off the fielder and Strauss picked it up and threw down the stumps to find the batsman short. Hardly had the dust settled, when the other major contributor for Australia in the series, Marcus North was also a goner to Swann, stumped by Matt Prior and all of a sudden it looked like it would be all over in a hurry for Australia.
Brad Haddin did hang about for some time with Hussey, but ever since his injury in the second test match, his batting has not yielded what had been expected out of him; certainly not the form he had exhibited before the series. His 49-ball 34 was ended by Swann, and after that, it was all over bar the shouting. Steve Harmison then scythed through the tail, bagging 3/23 in his spell, while Swann returned back to get rid of Hussey after he had completed his century to start the celebrations.
Stuart Broad’s first innings spell that had broken the Aussie back won him the man-of-the-match award, while Clarke and Strauss shared the man-of-the-series award.