Blog by: Sougat
Day 5 witnessed a somewhat farcical end to the Investec Ashes 2013 after an entire day’s play was lost due to heavy rains on Day 4.
Sixteen wickets fell on the final day as the fifth and final Test at the Oval petered out to a draw despite England looking set for victory and a 4-0 finish, after Michael Clarke’s bold declaration.
Resuming at 247/4, the hosts were bowled out for 377 in their first innings. Australia, having gained a 115-run lead, declared their second innings at 111/6, setting a 227-run target for victory in 44 overs.
England did well to reach 206/5 before a controversial decision to abandon play due to bad light was taken, with just four overs to go and England needing 21 runs to win. The hosts thus retained the Ashes with a 3-0 scoreline, but would feel slighted by the officials’ decision.
Here are the Heroes of the Day:
Matt Prior (47 runs off 57 balls – 8 fours; 2 catches)
The wicket-keeper batsman finally joined the party with a quick-fire knock in the rain-affected first innings. He joined Ian Bell after nightwatchman Chris Woakes was dismissed by Ryan Harris early in the day.
Prior added 30 for the sixth wicket with Bell before the latter was dismissed by James Faulkner. Known for batting well with the tail, he shepherded the lower order well – he raised a rapid 48 with Graeme Swann for the eighth wicket, falling three runs short of another Test fifty when he became Faulkner’s second victim.
In Australia’s second innings, Prior caught both the promoted Faulkner and counterpart Brad Haddin off Stuart Broad, and was not required to bat as the game ended in a draw. Good performance!
Graeme Swann (34 runs off 24 balls – 5 fours, 1 six; 1/39 in 7 overs)
The off-spinner displayed his batting prowess as he indulged in big hitting down the order in the first innings. The highlight of his brief cameo was a massive six off Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon, as he and Prior scored 48 runs off just 29 balls in an eighth-wicket partnership.
He was the last man out, falling to Faulkner, before dismissing a rampaging Shane Watson in Australia’s second innings.
Another fine show from the spinner – although he would have liked to take more wickets than his final tally suggests.
Kevin Pietersen (1 catch; 62 runs off 55 balls – 10 fours)
After an uncharacteristically slow half-century on the third day, the No. 4 batsman returned to his natural game with a belligerent innings of 62 in just 55 deliveries, after taking a fine catch to dismiss Shane Watson earlier in the day.
Drawing on all his experience, Pietersen went for his shots right from the word go as England galloped towards the target of 227. His full repertoire of strokes was on display as he attacked the bowling with a vengeance.
He singled out left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc for special treatment – hitting the wayward bowler for three boundaries – as he raced away to yet another fifty in Tests, before being removed by Ryan Harris. Looks like KP’s back!
Jonathan Trott (59 runs off 87 balls – 6 fours)
After opener Joe Root fell early in England’s chase, Trott combined with skipper Cook to add 64 runs in just 15 overs without taking too many risks.
The balding right-hander, looking to make amends after an agonizingly slow 40 in the first innings and a mediocre batting display throughout the series, mixed caution with aggression as he went about chipping away at the target.
In the company of Pietersen, the Warwickshire batsman was content to play second fiddle, reaching his half century before Faulkner trapped him LBW.
This knock of Trott’s will do him a world of good when England travel to Australia for the return series.
Stuart Broad (9 runs off 16 balls – 1 four; 4/43 in 10 overs)
The Nottinghamshire fast bowler couldn’t do much with the bat in the first innings, making only nine before being castled by Mitchell Starc. He hit back with a fiery bowling spell, sending back four Australian batsmen without a fuss before Clarke declared the second innings.
Broad started the slide by having Haddin edging to Prior behind the stumps for a golden duck, before removing Faulkner in the same manner. He then had first-innings centurion Steven Smith holing out to Swann at long-on before shattering Ryan Harris’s stumps with a good-length ball on middle.
A fine performance from the young bowler- this should also give him a lot of confidence going into the return series.
James Faulkner (4/51 in 19.4 overs; 22 runs off 22 balls – 1 four, 1 six; 2/47 in 8 overs)
After a lacklustre bowling performance on the third day, Faulkner used the conditions well as he picked up a total of six wickets in the entire game.
First up, he removed the well-set Ian Bell for 45, with Haddin taking a smart catch. He then dismissed Matt Prior and James Anderson before bowling Graeme Swann to pick a four-wicket haul in his debut Test.
With the bat, the southpaw scored a run-a-ball 22, dispatching a length delivery from Broad into the stands before the bowler took him out.
In England’s second innings, he removed captain Cook and the dangerous Jonathan Trott to finish with 2/47 and match figures of 6/98. It was a good debut for the young man nevertheless!
Michael Clarke – A sporting declaration
With wickets falling around him in pursuit of quick runs for setting a near-impossible victory target, skipper Michael Clarke did the only logical thing he could do – at the tea break, he declared Australia’s second innings closed.
The target set was 227 from a minimum of 44 overs – and Clarke was banking on his seamers Harris, Faulkner, Starc and Siddle to deliver the goods.
He knew they had lost a day to rain, effectively upsetting his plans of achieving a consolation win, but he went for it nonetheless – a golden opportunity had presented itself. Unfortunately, a rapid-scoring Kevin Pietersen and the equally stylish Jonathan Trott spoiled his hopes.
Despite picking up the wickets of both the English batsmen, Ian Bell gathered some quick runs in the company of debutant Chris Woakes. Clarke must have been relieved to leave the field after umpires took a call on fading light. Nevertheless, it was a sporting declaration that made the likelihood of a firm result possible. Good thinking, ‘Pup’.