Persistence. Patience. Boldness. Fightback. Attack. Keep on attacking. Keep holding on. Attack again. The final day of the fourth Test at Manchester had been all about this. There was a shade of Leeds. England answered at Leeds, while Australia did it at Manchester.
Pat Cummins – the number 1 Test bowler in the world – dished out an unplayable delivery to beat Joe Root’s defence yesterday when the shadows were getting taller, which automatically shattered the confidence of English dressing room. The Australian pacers transformed into a pack of wolves and on the final day, they won’t leave any stones unturned to finish things off as quickly as possible.
And their intensity was the same on Day 5. They attacked the top of off. Varied the line and length. Dished out the short-stuff. But the pack of wolves and their partner – Lyon were tested against the defiant resistance put up by the English lower middle-order and tail-ender.
Hit the top off. Oh yes, Australia are the masters at it and when Jos Buttler and Craig Overton were hanging on to save the Test, that man Josh Hazlewood nipped one back, which hit the top of Buttler’s off – Australia bounce back.
But Jack Leach was there. Overton and Leach held on. Blocked. Blocked. And Blocked. The English fans cheered, while the Australian fans started to give up hope.
Well, Tim Paine did not give up.
On a turning deck, he realized that a legspinner can be the best option to exploit the footmarks better than a finger spinner. He opted for Marnus Labuschagne. He delivered the ball quickly and on the rough. One particular delivery jumped. Kissed the bat of Leach and the Labuschagne-move is now a part of Ashes folklore.
It was a long walk to the crease for Stuart Broad, who should have been sent to bat at number 9 instead of Jofra Archer. He was at the non-striker’s end, when Hazlewood nipped another one back, which trapped Overton lbw. He reviewed, but it was plumb, and guess what, the ball was again hitting the top of off and middle.
Australia win and retain the Ashes.
England fought bravely. But today, Australia’s persistence, attacking intent and a smart move at the fag end of the day, defeated the English resistance.
It was another memorable and classic Ashes Test match.