Australia defeated England with a margin of 185 runs to retain the Ashes in the fourth test of the ongoing series. Steve Smith was the difference between the two sides as the Aussies lead the series 2-1.
The Baggy Greens started the match and succeeded in putting up a huge score of 497 runs in the first inning. England tried their best to narrow down the lead, but they could only manage to score 301 runs. The Three Lions avoided a follow-on by just four runs and made the visitors bat again.
Australia came back on the pitch and scored another 186 runs before declaring their innings and posting a target of 383 runs. England, on the other hand, tried to depend on miracle once again, but this time it couldn’t work as they got all out for 197 runs.
As this nerve-wracking match came to an end, let’s look at the five talking points that we witnessed in this fixture:
1) Steve Smith continued his splendid form
Steve Smith was ruled out of the second test and was rested for the third test due to concussion that he suffered from the bouncer of Jofra Archer. The Australian batsman was replaced by Marnus Labuschagne who performed above expectations and booked his place in the team.
Before getting out of the action the Smudge was in phenomenal form and he was the one who was carrying the team on his shoulders in the ongoing Ashes. After the injury of Smith, many people thought that he will be more cautious on the field and that might change his game as well.
Smith, however, proved everybody wrong as he carried on his tremendous form in the fourth test and looked more lethal than before. The Australian batsman scored his third double century against England; there are only two batsmen who have scored more double centuries than Smith – Don Bradman (9) and Wally Hammond (4).
Smith’s double century helped Australia in putting up a huge total of 497 runs. This score helped the Baggy Greens in bowling out England on a low score and building a huge lead, which was almost unattainable for the hosts.
2) Tim Paine emulates Steve Waugh
After a thumping victory by 185 runs over England in the fourth test, Tim Paine became the first Australian captain to retain the Ashes in England since 2001. In doing so, Paine matched Steve Waugh’s feat of 2001. Waugh had led the Baggy Greens to a 4-1 series win in the Ashes.
In recent times, a lot of people have raised a question on Paine’s captaincy, but this achievement of the Australian captain will rule out all the doubts about him. The credit of this win doesn’t go only to him as Smith is the difference maker and his skipper has accepted it as well.
“He’s pretty handy, I won’t lie,” Paine said during the post-match presentations. “He’s the best player I’ve ever seen. Obviously, his 200 was phenomenal but yesterday to push the game forward put England under pressure. He’s got a lot of courage to take teams on.” (source: ESPN)
3) Walk the talk, Jofra Archer
In the absence of Smith, Jofra Archer picked eight wickets in the third test against Australia. The game-changer of this match was Ben Stokes, but the English bowler took crucial wickets and got the much-anticipated limelight.
After achieving success in his first two test matches, Archer got a bit cocky. The English bowler, before going into the fourth match, commented on Smith, “Well, I can’t get him out if he wasn’t there. But there’ll be more than ample time to get him out”. (source: India Today)
This was a response to Smith’s comment on Archer, “There’s been a bit of talk that he’s got the wood over me, but he hasn’t actually got me out. He hit me on the head on a wicket that was a bit up and down at Lord’s. All the other bowlers have had more success against me, I daresay. I’ve faced them a bit more, but they’ve all got me out a lot more,” Smith said. (source: India Today)
The English bowler, however, failed to get Smudge’s wicket and gave away 97 runs without picking any wicket. Archer managed to get three wickets in the second innings, but it got too late to make a comeback in this match.
4) Broad continues his dominance against Warner
David Warner registered his first pair in test cricket, courtesy Stuart Broad. For the sixth time in the ongoing Ashes, the Australian became prey to the English pacer. This back to back flop performance from Warner has raised a lot of questions about his selection in the team and future.
The Australian opener was the second-highest run-scorer in the 2019 ICC World Cup and his team had a lot of hope from him in the Ashes. Warner, however, could only manage to score one half-century in the ongoing series. His premature dismissals didn’t help Australia’s cause.
Talking about Warner’s dismissal, Steve Smith said, “He’s (Warner) admitted himself Broad’s had the wood on him throughout this series and he’s been talking to myself and Justin (Langer) and Graeme Hick (batting coach)”. (source: India Today)
5) The English batsmen failed to understand their roles
Jason Roy was brought into tests with an image of an opener, however, his back to back poor performances made the English side a bit worried and they decided to move him down the order in the fourth test.
Joe Root was shifted to the third position, which he stated publicly he doesn’t like. Joe Denly was shifted to the fourth spot and later shifted to the opening position. Along with these players, the position of Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, and Jos Buttler kept shuffling.
These continuous changes in the batting line-up did hurt the English side. Instead of believing in their players and giving them a chance to perform at their original position. The Three Lions kept on putting pressure on them by changing their roles.
There is no surprise that all this shuffling became the reason for England’s downfall in this series. The Three Lions failed to cross a single 400+ score in the series and got out below 200 on two occasions.
Also, how can we forget about their 67 all out at Headingley, which was somehow salvage through Stokes’ match-winning inning.