4th Test, Sydney, January 05 - 09, 2022, England tour of Australia
416/8d & 265/6d
(T:388) 294 & 270/9

Match drawn

Player Of The Match
137 & 101*

England cling on for thrilling final-over draw

Leach, Broad and Anderson resist Australia, England nerves jangle after late Smith strike

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
England 294 (Bairstow 113, Stokes 66, Boland 4-36) and 9 for 270 (Crawley 77, Stokes 60, Boland 3-30) drew with Australia 8 for 416 dec (Khawaja 137, Smith 67, Broad 5-101) and 6 for 265 dec (Khawaja 101*, Green 74, Leach 4-84)
There is no such thing as a dead rubber in Test cricket. Australia, 3-0 up, having dominated the game, had their dreams of a whitewash shattered as England finally salvaged something from the wreck of this Ashes tour with Jack Leach, Stuart Broad and James Anderson surviving 64 balls under floodlights to secure a thrilling draw at the SCG.
Leach and Broad faced 52 of them, most of which were against Pat Cummins, Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc before bad light forced Australia to turn to Steve Smith and he almost became a hero with the ball. He prized out Leach, his first Test scalp since 2016, caught at slip after England's spinner had battled manfully for 34 balls without error.
It left Broad and Anderson to survive six balls each from Nathan Lyon and Smith respectively and England's veterans held on. It was only the second time in Ashes history a team had saved a game nine-down in the fourth innings, the first being the famous 2005 draw at Manchester.
High-quality half-centuries from Zak Crawley and Ben Stokes and a brave 105-ball 41 from Jonny Bairstow had earlier put England in a position to save the Test. However, Australia will rue a raft of errors that have seen a chance at an Ashes whitewash literally slip through their fingers. They dropped three catches and missed a run out on the final day. Scott Boland bowled magnificently to take 3 for 30 while Cummins almost turned the game with two wickets in three balls. But questions will be asked of the delayed declaration yesterday, as Australia failed for the second year in a row to bowl a side out on the final day the SCG wiith Lyon and Starc taking just two wickets between them.
Thanks largely to the excellent work of Crawley and Stokes, England were just three down at lunch, four down at tea and 5 for 218 with just 16 overs remaining and Bairstow and Jos Buttler at the crease facing the second new ball before the game took a thrilling twist.
Cummins delivered two huge blows in three balls with two extraordinary inswingers to put Australia on the brink of victory. Buttler, batting bravely with a broken finger that will force him out of the final Test, copped a vicious inswinger from Cummins. He over-balanced and hit his boot with his bat. The bat swivelled as a result at the precise moment the ball sneaked through and thundered into the back pad. Umpire Paul Reiffel gave it not out but Cummins reviewed and it was smashing middle and leg. Two balls later, Cummins delivered a searing inswinging yorker that hit Mark Wood flush on the front foot. Reiffel gave it out immediately and Wood knew his fate as he hobbled to his feet after crumpling over when he was struck. He reviewed but it was fruitless.
Bairstow then nicked Starc to second slip but the normally reliable Smith grassed the chance low to his right. Smith redeemed himself not long after, insisting Cummins place a silly mid-off for Boland in addition to the short leg. Boland's belligerent length produced some nip off the seam, caught Bairstow's inside edge and ricocheted onto pad before ballooning up to Labuschagne leaving Australia just two scalps to take in more than 10 overs.
But Leach and Broad were magnificent. As Australia failed to extract any real venom from the pitch, they defended their off stump with their lives. Broad was literally put on his backside by a cracking Cummins bouncer. But he kept his wits about him and his gloves out of the way. Lyon too couldn't break through having earlier bowled two beauties to dismiss Dawid Malan and Stokes.
Smith conjured one final piece of magic to give Australia hope. He pitched in the footmarks outside Leach's off stump, but it didn't turn as much as anticipated, the nick brushed Alex Carey's thigh and David Warner held well at slip.
Earlier, Crawley played with a freedom that has not been seen on this Ashes tour from any of England's openers. He struck 13 boundaries and scored at an incredibly brisk rate. His 77 from 100 balls was the fastest Test innings by an Englishman in terms of strike-rate in 17 years. He also had 77 of England's first 91 runs.
Crawley moved his guard almost outside off stump and profited by picking off anything straight from Australia's quicks. He was also savage on the short ball, pounding several pull shots forward of square. It took a peach to dismiss him. Cameron Green delivered a searing yorker that hit Crawley flush on the toe. He was one of three wickets to fall in the opening session.
Haseeb Hameed's horror tour continued. He registered his sixth single-figure score and nicked off twice in his 9. He survived the first off Cummins when Carey put him down in a similar fashion to the first innings, diving late to his right with one hand. He didn't survive the second off Boland.
Lyon removed Malan for the fifth time in Test cricket eight overs later. Malan paid dearly for his penchant for trying to cut Lyon off the back foot, as a quicker 95kph arm-ball skidded on and crashed into off stump.
Australia could have had four before lunch. Marcus Harris dropped a very tough chance at short leg off Cummins. Stokes was only 16 at the time. It proved very costly. Stokes battled through the pain of a side strain to make 60 from 123 balls, his second half-century of the match.
He lost skipper Joe Root who was undone by Boland for the third time in three innings and was caught behind the wicket for the eighth time in the series. Boland's immaculate length and hint of nip away scratched the outside edge as Root tried to defend.
Bairstow should have been run out next over trying for a suicidal two to fine leg. Lyon's throw was a missile that barely missed at the keeper's end but Carey failed to glove it cleanly thinking it would hit the stumps direct. It took Australia 22 overs to break through again with Lyon producing his best ball of the match. Sharp bounce and turn undid Stokes as he fended to slip. But that was the last wicket Lyon would take on the final day.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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