With Australia leading England 2-1, going into the fifth and final Test match at the Oval, the hosts had a thing or two to prove.
The Baggie Greens had retained the Ashes already and were looking to rub some salt into the hosts’ wounds, but the Three Lions had pride to play for.
That proved to be pivotal as England performed wholeheartedly as a team and managed to trounce Australia by 135 runs within four days, to garner some major respectability and level the series 2-2, making it the first drawn Ashes series in 47 years!
Here are five major talking points from the Oval Test.
5. Buttler’s counter-attack takes England close to 300
The value that Jos Buttler brings to a team in the Test format is terribly understated.
Quite often, England finds themselves in trouble and it is the man from Taunton who, with his swift knocks, counterattacks and puts the opposition on the back foot.
Things were no different at the Oval when Buttler came in to bat. England, at one point, were eight down for a mere 226.
The Englishman did what he does best, as he waved his willow in typical ODI style as he made 70 and singlehandedly took his team to a healthier position.
In hindsight, had it not been for Buttler’s counter-attack, England would not have been able to take the crucial first-innings lead that proved to be significant in the downfall of the Aussies.
4. Marsh silences critics as he gets his maiden five-wicket haul
People who fancy Mitchell Marsh in Australian cricket are hard to come by.
Quite a lot of them are fans of his elder brother Shaun who is a text-book exponent of Test cricket. Mitchell, according to many, is someone who just gets by with both bat and ball.
Well, let me tell you that it is a far cry from the aforementioned statement, as Mitchell Marsh was the wrecker-in-chief as Australia managed to restrict England to a total of 294 in the first innings.
The West Australian pulled out figures of 5/46, his first five-wicket haul in Tests.
Marsh redeemed the faith the Australian selectors had in himself, in the very first opportunity he got in this year’s Ashes.
3. Denly misses out on first ever ton even as he gets England a big lead
With Jason Roy being axed for the final Test and himself being promoted as an opener, the onus was on Joe Denly to rise to the occasion. And rise he did.
The man from Kent learnt from his earlier mistakes and pulled anchor in the second innings.
Even if he missed his first ever Test hundred, his knock of 94 proved to be invaluable as England were able to take their lead close to 400.
That proved to be too steep a mountain for Australia to climb.
It was just Denly’s eighth Test match; but the fact that he could focus for so long and bat with so much resoluteness, stitching handy partnerships on the way, speaks volumes of his immense potential.
2. Wade’s willow makes a statement, but his century goes in vain
Amidst talks brewing everywhere that Tim Paine should be sacked as captain owing to his dismal batting and questionable decisions on-field, and that he should not be the wicketkeeper with Matthew Wade being in the team anyway, the latter made another resounding statement.
The Tasmanian (Paine is from Tasmania too) scored his fourth Test ton and his second of the series as Australia set themselves to chase a mighty target of 399 in the fourth innings.
Such was the difficulty in the task that the next-best batsman scored a mere 24 runs as Wade smacked the English bowlers aplenty in his knock of 117.
But alas, it was to be in vain, as England ran out winners at the Oval.
1. It’s Jofra again for England as his six-fer proves to be crucial
Jofra Archer is most definitely the quintessential talent in international cricket. Ever since he literally stormed into the scene, he has been stealing headlines.
Defending 16 in the last over against the Kiwis in a World Cup final at the Lord’s was one thing. To outdo the feat and being the star performer in the toughest of formats in a pot-boiler contest such as the Ashes when your team needed you the most, is another altogether.
Archer picked up six significant wickets in Australia’s first innings as the visitors crumbled under pressure and were unable to match England’s total of 294.
Jofra’s lethal spells got the hosts the much needed lead of 69 runs, and it was his second six-fer in four Test matches since his debut. Needless to say, Jofra Archer was the Man of the Match.