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Peter English at The Oval
August 23, 2009
Celebrate like it's 2005
The England huddle has been a regular feature during the series but they saved their tightest one for after the final wicket. Michael Hussey's bat-pad dismissal sealed their Ashes-winning fightback and the players converged in a ring, jumping up and down before starting their congratulations for the retiring Andrew Flintoff. In the Australian rooms there was still shock at the way they had lost grip of their favourite trophy. Again.
Not the best end to the series for Paul Collingwood, who missed three catches today. If Collingwood could have flicked up Ponting's edge off his foot it would have been the take of the year, and he was slow on a Hussey nick that went through his legs before his hands could get there. Those two were very hard, but his second miss of Hussey was simple by club standards, going slowly and a little low to his right off Graeme Swann. Hussey was 44, but it wasn't like Collingwood had just dropped the Ashes. He raised the ball when he dived in front of first slip to capture Mitchell Johnson's push.
We don't really hate you
Ricky Ponting is a lot more likeable to English fans when his team is heading towards an Ashes defeat. After a series where he has been a target for the boo-boys, Ponting left with a standing ovation for his 66 and his efforts in the United Kingdom over four tours. He's highly unlikely to be back for the 2013 Ashes and will be remembered fondly here, mostly for letting the hosts take the urn in 2005 and 2009.
If Australia were to improve their chances of chasing 546 from impossible to improbable they needed a strong display from the openers. England wanted wickets and they came in the third and fourth overs. Simon Katich mis-read Graeme Swann's straight ball and two deliveries later Shane Watson was lbw to one coming in from Stuart Broad. The world-record miracle would stay a long way out of reach.
Broad was the hero on the second day with five wickets but he found things more difficult as England pushed for victory. He also received an official warning from Asad Rauf for running on the wicket while trying to remove Ponting. There were no further problems but only one wicket for the innings.
Standing out of his ground
Marcus North has been one of Australia's best batsmen in this series so his stumping was a sad final act for him. North went for a big sweep off Swann, lunging forward to smother the spin, but missed and held his follow through as Matt Prior took the ball. The problem for North was his back foot had slid out of the crease during the shot and he felt no need to try to shuffle it back. Gone, sheepishly, for 10.
It doesn't matter now but some light rain is predicted for Monday. Any wet weather won't dampen England's celebrations.