Australia has seemed to crack the code in the Ashes after retaining the urn successfully at 2019 Ashes 4th test. In 2017-18 Ashes series at home, the Aussies battered England 4-0. Now they have taken a 2-1 lead in the five-match series in England.
With one more Test to be played, Aussies are the favorites to walk home with a 3-1 victory. The 2019 Ashes 4th test at Old Trafford in Manchester saw Tim Paine’s side win the match by 185 runs.
It wasn’t an easy ride just like it has been all summer. Interestingly, all the four-Test matches have gone down to the wire. Teams have needed to be patient and an incredible tension has surrounded the series just like Day 5 in Manchester. England’s ninth-wicket pair Craig Overton and Jack Leach survived for 14 overs and there was a wave of tension among the Aussies for the resistance on offer. During 2019 Ashes 4th test, the English fans cheered every ball passing by.
After the superb Ben Stokes show at Headingley, there was hope that England could pull off one more stunning achievement, only for it to end when Leach failed to negotiate the leg-spin of Marnus Labuschagne and offered a catch to short leg.
England’s unlikely hero, Overton, was lbw to Josh Hazlewood with 13.3 of the day’s 98 overs remaining. The Aussies celebrated the 2019 Ashes 4th test and it was a superb achievement to win the series away from home. Australia scored 497/8 in the first innings as England replied with a score on 301. The visitors rallied to 186/6 to set a massive target. England was bowled out for 197.
There were plenty of moments that captured the heart of this Test-
- Steve Smith continued his magic & The Aussie pacers bowled with a lot of heart.
- Veteran English bowler Stuart Broad’s resurgence over David Warner continued.
- England’s batting was below-par once again. And finally, things still managed to close.
Here we analyze the major takeaways from the fourth Test at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Steve Smith is a class above the rest
Australian batting star Steve Smith was once again the biggest difference between the two sides in 2019 Ashes 4th test. It was acknowledged by both camps and that was once again the theme. After missing the final day at Lord’s and then the third Test with a concussion, Smith drew a lot of attention and pre-match talk.
Yet, he kept Jofra Archer at bay and batted like a hero. The run-scoring machine showed a lot of character and fight to smash 211 and 82 in Manchester. His double ton marked his 11th career Ashes century and 26th in Tests. Both times, Smith gave Australia the platform after they were in a spot of bother. Again, it was a similar tale like that of Edgbaston and Lord’s.
For the second successive Ashes series, Smith tortured England. Credit to him to battle past the 12-month ban and taking Australia to the summit once again. Smith was at his sublime best. He has already amassed 671 runs in the series which is almost twice as many as anyone else. His lowest score is 82. And notably, this is after him missing three Test innings.
Openers continue to struggle for both sides
Australia has been terrible with their opening partnership across the four Tests. Their best stand has been 13. In the 4th Test, the opening stand read 1 and 0 between Warner and Marcus Harris. The England opening bowlers continued to spell their magic upfront with some decisive hostility on offer. Harris was out in similar fashion in both innings against Broad (LBW).
Warner’s struggle continued against the Englishman, who got him for the sixth time in the series by Stuart Broad. This was a new low for the celebrated southpaw. It has been a painful watch to see no comfort atop.
Then when you look at England, their opening stands have been 10 and 0. Although, one of the two managed to get to a fifty across the two-inning. But the struggles throughout the Test series have continued and the same reflected in 2019 Ashes 4th test. Both sides have been vulnerable to this problem. And it could well perhaps be the story at the Oval as well.
England lose key moments to surrender the match
At Old Trafford, Australia should not have gotten to the score of 497. Their messiah Smith was dropped by Archer on 65 and was also dismissed off a Jack Leach no-ball on 118. He went on to get that mega score. Skipper Tim Paine (58) was dropped twice as well. Both went on to share a mammoth stand of 145. This made a huge difference.
These things coupled with ordinary bowling and the injury to Ben Stokes made England suffer.
Then when England batted, it was brilliant to see Rory Burns (81) and Joe Root (71) score the runs and bail the team out from 25/2 to 166/2. However, you needed them to get the big scores. That was missing. Also, both got dismissed in quick succession to leave the side wanting. One more thing got highlighted was that Root is way below the likes of Smith, Williamson and Virat Kohli.
His inability to convert scores continues to bother him in Test cricket.
How good were the Aussie pacers?
Australian pacers deserve every bit of credit for another majestic show. The famous trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc played together in the series for the first time. They shared 17 wickets between them to highlight the dominance. Cummins showed why he is the best in the world as he continued to extend his tally.
His wickets in the second innings to dismiss Burns and Root off successive deliveries gave the visitors ample confidence. He finished with 7 scalps in the match. Hazlewood continued his rich vein of form and was pivotal in getting Burns and Root in the first innings when they threatened.
Starc’s unplayable delivery to Bairstow was the best of the Test. They all complimented one another and the work paid off. This was vintage Test match bowling.
For England, Broad deserves a special mention. He was terrific throughout the match.