Australia and England delivered another Ashes classic on
Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, as the visitors hung on for a thrilling
draw in the fourth Test, batting out the final day to deny Pat Cummins’ side
the opportunity to complete a clean sweep. The tourists showed that they still
had plenty of fight left in them despite losing the series with Zak Crawley and
Ben Stokes scoring half-centuries, before Jack Leach, Stuart Broad and James
Anderson combined to survive 10.4 overs in the fading Sydney daylight to
complete the great escape.
Stuart Broad joined Jack Leach with 45 minutes remaining on
the clock as Australia remained only two wickets away from going 4-0 up in the
series. However, the left-arm spinner denied the Aussie pacers until the
shadows cast on the pitch meant that only spin would be allowed to operate for
the final four overs of the day, compelling Pat Cummins to turn to his
vice-captain Steve Smith for a miracle.
The part-time leg-spinner had his home crowd on its feet
when he picked up his first Test scalp since 2016 to remove Jack Leach with two
overs remaining. However, the veteran duo of Stuart Broad and James Anderson
saw out the nail-biting final 12 deliveries with fielders camped around the bat
to take England to safety in dramatic fashion.
England’s staunch resistance on day five began with some
excellent stroke-play from Zak Crawley, who scored the first half-century by an
English opener in this series in the fourth innings in Sydney. Despite losing
his opening partner Haseeb Hameed for nine, Crawley took the attack to the
Australian pacers, playing some authoritative pull shots through the leg-side
and showcasing some glimpses of his promise.
The 23-year-old scored 77 of England’s first 91 runs before
eventually succumbing to a toe-crusher from Cameron Green prior to Lunch,
leaving the visitors at 96 for three. Australia could have had a fourth before
the break, but Marcus Harris dropped a tough chance off Pat Cummins with Ben
Stokes on 16. The all-rounder went onto stitch a 60-run partnership with Joe
Root that lasted 25 overs before seeing out a further 16 overs with Jonny
The visitors entered the final session with five wickets left
in the tank, but Australia slowly managed to find the breakthroughs as the day
wore on. Nathan Lyon removed an inconsolable Ben Stokes for the second time in
the game, while Pat Cummins dismissed Jos Buttler and Mark Wood within the
space of three deliveries, the second of which was an unplayable inswinging
yorker with the new ball.
Australia thought that victory was within their grasp when
Scott Boland bounced out the last recognised batter, Jonny Bairstow, with 64
deliveries remaining, but England’s tail hung on valiantly in the final hour to
deny the hosts the chance to complete a 5-0 whitewash.