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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rory Dollard

Day one of fifth Ashes Test: England aiming to deny Australia series win

PA Wire

England will be looking to end an enthralling Ashes on a high at the Kia Oval this week, taking a deserved share of the spoils despite missing out on a shot at the urn.

Australia’s tour has already been a productive one regardless of what happens over the next five days, having already secured the World Test Championship title at India’s expense and ensured the Ashes are theirs for two more years at least.

But things have been going against them for some time, surviving a Ben Stokes blitz at Lord’s, losing at Headingley and being outclassed at Old Trafford before rain spared them a thrashing.

Had that game played out to its likely conclusion and a 2-2 scoreline, things would be at fever pitch in south London as the cricket world enjoyed a rare winner-takes-all decider.

England have less to play for now but, as captain, Stokes is not lacking drive as he seeks to cap a six-week contest that has reinvigorated the Test game.

“Putting the shirt on, walking out, representing the country, leading this team out is all the motivation I need,” he said.

For opposite number Pat Cummins, the goal is clear: becoming the first Australia captain since Steve Waugh in 2001 to win a series outright on English soil.

“We know that it wasn’t our best week last week and at the end of the game it was a bit of a pat on the back, ‘well done, we’ve retained the Ashes’ but really it feels like the job’s not done,” he said.

“This group has been really motivated to win the series.”

Big number

End of an era?

Amazingly given the number of thirty-somethings involved this summer, not to mention James Anderson’s impending 41st birthday, there are no confirmed retirements heading into this match. Despite that there is a growing sense that many of the key combatants are close to the end of their Ashes journey. Anderson has vowed he is not hanging up his boots yet, but will surely be taking it easy when England next head Down Under in 2025/26. Among the rest it is asking a lot for Stuart Broad (37), David Warner (36), Usman Khawaja (36), Chris Woakes (34) and Mark Wood (33) to see this stage again. But first out of the door is likely to be Moeen Ali, the 36-year-old all-rounder who only came out of retirement after an SOS following Jack Leach’s injury.

Australia’s travel troubles

  • 2005: England won 2-1
  • 2009: England won 3-1
  • 2013: England won 3-0
  • 2015: England won 3-2
  • 2019: Drawn series 2-2

Stats wars

There is a great prestige attached to topping the charts at the end of a hard-fought Ashes and two Englishmen currently sit atop the standings. Zak Crawley’s outstanding 189 at Old Trafford catapulted him up the run-scoring list with 385 but Khawaja, Stokes, Joe Root, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne have cleared 300 and have a chance to overtake. In the bowling ranks, Broad is on his own with 18 wickets. Cummins, with 16, is his nearest challenger with Mithcell Starc one further back.

Results pitch

After the damp squib in Manchester, fans on both sides will surely want to see a positive result this time. The good news is that in 14 Tests dating back to 2008, there has only been one draw – in the 2013 Ashes. England have won eight and lost five in that time, including a rapid contest against South Africa last summer, a game that lost a day to rain and another after Queen Elizabeth II’s death and still hurried towards a conclusion. Australia also have positive memories, having claimed the crown of Test world champions there against India at the start of the summer.

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