England beat Australia in the fifth and the final test match at Oval by 197 runs
to regain the Ashes by winning the series 2-1. Chasing 546 for the most
improbable of wins, Australia crashed to 348 all out, late on the fourth day to
leave the hosts victors.
Australia had ended the fourth day at 80/0, and there was hope that the openers
would have set up a good enough platform to press for a result in their favour.
However, the fourth day saw the situation turnaround dramatically, as both their
overnight batsmen, Shane Watson and Simon Katich fell off consecutive
overs to leave the Aussies crippled at 90/2. The captain Ricky Ponting
was then joined by the out of form Michael Hussey, and the pair carried
on with a fightback to get to lunch without any further loss.
The partnership blossomed and passed the 100-run mark, and looked to be assuming
dangerous proportions when the unexpected happened. Ponting was run-out off
a direct throw by Andrew Flintoff, while the new-comer Michael Clarke
was dismissed in the same manner by the short-leg, for the Aussies to leap back
into trouble at 220/4. Marcus North also did not last too long, and was
stumped by the wicket-keeper off Swann to reduce the Aussies further to 236/5
and in deep trouble.
The match was in England's bag by this time, and it would have only required
a miracle for them to get out of the quagmire. Hussy did get to his century,
while Haddin played a few airy-fairy shots and survived. But, the partnership
was then quickly broken by Swann, while Steve Harmison returned to run
through the tail. With Australia nine wickets down, and more than 200 runs to
get, Hussey began swinging around, but was soon caught by the short-leg off
the bowling of Swann to end the Aussie innings at 348. Hussey had recaptured
his form back with a 121, but it was too little too late, and that hadn't helped
the Aussies in regaining the Ashes.
Ponting and the Aussie management did accept in the end, that it was a mistake
not to play Nathan Hauritz on this track which was helping the spinners.
Stuart Broad's excellent spell of bowling that broke the Aussie backs in the
first innings won him the man-of-the-match award, whereas the man-of-the-series
award was shared by Michael Clarke and Andrew Strauss, both of
whom top-scored in the series for respective countries.