Ashes 2019: England beaten despite valiant defensive effort as Australia ensure they keep the urn
A desperate England were beaten in the final hour as their Ashes hopes were ended by Australia in the fourth Ashes Test.
Entering the day two wickets down, the hosts were up against it at Old Trafford as they sought to take a draw into the final match.
Led by Pat Cummins, Australia took four wickets throughout the day - but England’s hopes were raised as they entered the final session.
And sturdy efforts by Craig Overton, Jos Buttler and Jack Leach almost ensured Joe Root’s men escaped with a draw.
But a late wicket by Josh Hazlewood ensured the urn will remain with Australia at the conclusion of this Ashes, with only a series win or draw on the cards for the holders.
The hosts started the day two wickets down, with Jason Roy and Joe Denly occupying the crease.
Both did well to navigate the opening hour without conceding many opportunities, but as it was on day four, Cummins provided the breakthrough.
Roy, who looked steady enough in the opening exchanges, was castled by another fiery delivery.
His departure brought the third Test hero - Ben Stokes - to the crease, but his stay was not prolonged.
Cummins again nipped one back at Stokes which caught the glove, who walked despite no apparent signal from the umpire.
The Durham man’s meek departure all-but ended any faint aspirations of a shock victory, though hopes were still raised that England could grasp a draw.
That was, at least, until Nathan Lyon ended his wicketless spell his over-spin bounced off the glove of Denly to short leg.
The England batsman went some way towards restoring his reputation with a sturdy 53 but Marnus Labuschagne’s catch ensured Lyon could at least contribute on a day he was expected to dominate.
In a resilient effort, Buttler and Jonny Bairstow made it to 138-5 at drinks in the afternoon session, with both Labuschagne and Travis Head attempting to break the partnership.
But Bairstow was trapped LBW by Mitchell Starc immediately after the drinks break as Australia continued their victory march, with a review upholding the umpire’s decision.
England defended deep as Australia toiled - with the visitors getting the ball changed before the 60-over mark as Buttler kept them at bay.
The newer old ball threatened, though, with Cummins swinging the ball away from Buttler and beating the edge repeatedly.
Overton, who looked generally sturdy, was then given out by the umpire before a review - despite appearing to show a thick inside edge - eventually overturned the decision with the ball hitting the line of the stumps.
The Somerset man, together with Buttler, looked comfortable in defence as England denied Australia before the tea break - in spite of the ball change.
After the break, the raucous Old Trafford atmosphere urged England on but Buttler’s misjudged leave saw him depart to a fine Hazlewood delivery.
Three wickets remained and, with time running down before the new ball, Archer was tortured by Lyon before the off-spinner eventually trapped his man in front with one which stayed low.
Hazlewood, who bowled brilliantly through the innings, thought he had then ended Overton’s stay at the crease with a yorker before a review for LBW showed the ball narrowly missing leg stump.
Starc was brought into the fourth Test with an almost exclusive look at removing the wagging tail, after Australia’s scarring defeat in Leeds, and almost took care of Jack Leach with a trademark yorker - which the spinner kept out.
It was a day in which Lyon’s spin was expected to cause the majority of the trouble, though the experienced bowler’s wounded fingers seemed to be holding back.
By contrast, it was part-timer Labuschagne who broke the deadlock with less than 16 overs remaining, getting a crucial edge from Leach - who had remained at the crease for more than an hour.
Time was winding down and every blocked ball drew another intense cheer by the crowd, who looked to summon the spirit of Headingley.
But in the end, it was a stretch too far for England - Hazlewood rapped Overton on the pads to retain the Ashes in the northern hemisphere for the first time since 2001.
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