England’s Stuart Broad has claimed the last two Australia wickets to secure a dramatic 49-run victory for his team in the final Ashes Test at The Oval cricket stadium and leave the series locked at 2-2 after five gripping matches.
Broad, playing his final Test, removed Todd Murphy and Alex Carey, both caught by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, to dismiss Australia for 334 and deny them their first Ashes win in England since 2001.
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Australia, who won the first two Tests and had already retained the urn, moved to 238-3, chasing 384 to win before a two-hour rain delay halted their progress and England took the last seven wickets in just over two hours for the victory.
Chris Woakes was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4-50, and Moeen Ali took three wickets before the 37-year-old Broad completed the job in a perfect swan song two days after announcing his retirement.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” Broad told Sky Sports once the match was over.
“The crowd were unbelievable. It was so loud and we just jumped on the back of that. To contribute to the team with two wickets is very special.
“When you make that decision [to retire], you wonder what your last ball will be so to take a wicket to win an Ashes Test match is pretty cool,” he added.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 31, 2023
Australia had started the day with high hopes of victory after Usman Khawaja and David Warner’s unbroken opening partnership of 135 on Sunday.
The pair looked to continue to bat with positive intent, but under grey skies, the ball moved around for the England bowlers from the start.
Warner, on 60, was beaten by a lifting delivery from Woakes and edged a catch to Bairstow before Woakes trapped Khawaja lbw for 72 in his next over, the batsman failing to overturn the decision on review.
Marnus Labuschagne struck two crisp fours to get to 13, but he nibbled at an outswinger from Mark Wood, and Zak Crawley took a good low catch at second slip.
Travis Head started unconvincingly, and Steve Smith was fortunate to survive after edging Moeen off his glove to Stokes, only for the England captain to lose control of the ball.
Australia reached lunch on 238-3, but rain delayed the restart. When the players returned, Smith and Head took their fourth-wicket partnership to 95, and the touring side looked well placed on 264-4.
The dismissal of Head for 43, however, sparked a collapse.
This really is one of the greatest series .. The best format showing off once again .. #Ashes
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) July 31, 2023
Carey and Murphy bravely added 35 before Murphy, on 18, edged Broad to Bairstow, and five runs later, the 37-year-old fast bowler produced another perfect outswinger to end Carey’s resistance for 28 and spark wild celebrations around the ground.
“We were going nicely there,” Mitchell Starc said.
“Credit to England, they put some good balls in the right areas, and we nicked them or weren’t good enough.
“This has been the closest, most exciting series I’ve been a part of,” he added.
“All the test matches have been really special. It’s the right result.”
Stokes said the series showed England had “walked the walk” after losing the first two Tests.
“It was a fair reflection of two good teams playing completely different styles of cricket. But each tried to play the cricket that brought the best out of them as a team,” Stokes told the BBC.
It also showed the team’s ability to fight their way back from a huge deficit, he said.
Incredible display of cricket, nail-biting moments – the #Ashes 2023 had everything a cricket fan could ask for!
One of the most memorable Ashes ever. The comeback from England to make it 2-2 was phenomenal. Well played to both teams… you've given entertainment of the highest…
— DK (@DineshKarthik) July 31, 2023