Ashes 2019: England must go back to the drawing board after Ashes failure

By Sports Desk September 08, 2019

England have savoured the most glorious of Sunday triumphs over the last two months but they paid the price for their shortcomings at Old Trafford.

A fortnight after Ben Stokes' astonishing century gave them a one-wicket win to level the series at Headingley, and eight weeks on from winning the Cricket World Cup at Lord's, England's hopes of retaining the Ashes were shattered in Manchester.

Starting the final day in deep trouble on 18-2, Joe Root's side needed to bat all day for a draw against a potent Australia bowling attack to keep the Ashes within reach.

A win was highly unlikely after being set a mammoth 383, but England hung in there with a draw their goal until the final hour - roared on by a raucous, partisan crowd in Manchester.

New opener Joe Denly dug in for a half-century, while Jason Roy - down to number four - hung around longer than usual before Jos Buttler, Craig Overton and Jack Leach frustrated Australia with an old-school approach to Test batting.

There were textbook forward defensive shots, leaves and dot balls galore as a lively, packed crowd sensed another great escape.

It was not to be on this occasion, though, as with the clock having ticked into the final hour, Josh Hazlewood trapped Overton leg before to end England's resistance.

All out for 197 after soaking up 91.3 overs, their battling display of application was in vain as Australia, who began the series as Ashes holders, celebrated taking a 2-1 lead with just one match to play at The Oval next week.

A dejected Root said in his press conference: "The guys fought extremely bravely, really dug in, made it very difficult for Australia, put a really strong price on a wicket and that almost makes it a little bit harder to take.

"But at the same time, I couldn't be more proud of how we fought today."

Had they demonstrated the same patience with the bat before this tense last day, there may have been a chance of putting icing on the cake at the end of the English summer by lifting the urn.

While Australia were ruthless - holding their catches, with their pace attack showing relentless intensity and Steve Smith simply irrepressible - England were far too charitable in the penultimate Test.

Smith's magnificent first-innings double-century came after he was dropped by Jofra Archer and called back when Leach had him caught by Stokes at first slip, but overstepped.

Tim Paine made a half-century after being dropped twice as England continued to let Australia off the hook.

There have been head-scratching selections throughout the series, with the batting order changed time and again, and captain Root making some puzzling decisions at key times.

England might be able to salvage a series draw, but as the Australia squad celebrated with a beer on the outfield long after they sealed a deserved win, knowing they will retain the urn come what may, Root's men must go back to the drawing board.

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    India, who managed a paltry 165 in the first innings, trailed by 183 runs when Ishant Sharma (5-68) ended Boult's cameo and their headaches grew before the close of play.

    Boult removed Prithvi Shaw (14), Cheteshwar Pujara (11) and Virat Kohli (19), while Tim Southee strangled Mayank Agarwal down the leg side for 58 as the tourists battled to 144-4, still 39 runs behind.

    India had looked set for a brighter day in Wellington after Jasprit Bumrah extracted an edge from BJ Watling with the first ball of the opening over, after New Zealand had resumed on 216-5.

    Southee lasted 14 deliveries before falling to Ishant, which brought debutant Jamieson to the crease.

    The towering quick, who claimed four wickets in India's innings, proved there is more than one string to his bow as he hammered four sixes in an entertaining 45-ball knock.

    Jamieson and the more measured De Grandhomme combined for 71 runs before departing within five overs of each other, Ravichandran Ashwin (3-99) striking on both occasions.

    Number 11 Boult blasted the Black Caps further ahead and then made inroads into India's top order, his short ball drawing Shaw into an edge behind in the eighth over of India's second dig.

    Pujara crawled to 11 runs until his concentration failed on the final ball of the second session - his 81st at the crease - with the batsman made to pay for shouldering arms to a full Boult delivery that seamed in and plucked out the off stump.

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    Dropping the anchor allowed Ajinkya Rahane (25) and Hanuma Vihari (15) to reach the close unbeaten but New Zealand appear well-placed to take a 1-0 series lead with two days remaining.

  • Indiscipline cost West Indies in thriller – Pollard Indiscipline cost West Indies in thriller – Pollard

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    The squad also includes a recall for Andre Russell and Oshane Thomas.

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    Harper added: “Shai Hope provides an opening option and cover as a back-up wicket-keeper also. Fabian Allen returns from the injury he sustained in the series against Afghanistan late last year. He will provide a spin-bowling option as well as adding depth to the batting group.”

    Looking ahead to the T20I matches, Harper outlined that he will have one eye on the ICC T20 World Cup to be played in Australia later this year. West Indies are the defending champions and the only team to lift the trophy twice.

    “I look forward to the team building on its recent performances and winning the T20 series in Sri Lanka. This is another opportunity for the team to build on its strengths and identify areas that need improvement while continuing the process of building up with the aim of peaking for the T20 World Cup in October,” said Harper.

    The two T20Is will be played at the Pallakele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.

    West Indies and Sri Lanka are now contesting a three-match ODI series. Sri Lanka won the first match today by a wicket in Colombo.

    The second match is in Hambantota on Wednesday.

     

    West Indies T20I squad

    Kieron Pollard (capt), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams.

     

    IN: Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, Fabian Allen, Shai Hope.

     

    OUT: Evin Lewis, Khary Pierre, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd.

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