Australia duly won the Fifth Ashes Test match at the London Oval with England displaying some resistance in their second innings before being bowled out for 286 on the fourth day to suffer an innings and 46 runs defeat. That the hosts survived to bat on Sunday was mainly attributable to a lengthy innings from Alastair Cook during the previous day and a defensive display which his team-mates were unable to copy as wickets were once again offered cheaply in the wake of some accurate fast bowling by the tourists.
England resumed on Saturday with a meagre total of 107 runs for the loss of eight wickets in reply to the Australian score of 481. There was some brief scoring before Mitchell Johnson joined the attack and claimed the last two wickets with his first four balls as the English scorecard totalled 149.
With a long day ahead for both teams in scorching temperatures, both Adam Lyth and Cook opened the English second innings with some confident strokes before the Yorkshireman was once again dismissed cheaply having registered just 10 runs. The hosts entered the lunch break at 31-1 and by tea had amassed 123-3 with Cook compiling an undefeated 54 runs. One notable feature of the day was the bowling of Peter Siddle who claimed the wicket of Lyth while accumulating five maidens from his first five overs, and he was to remain both accurate and threatening throughout the England innings. The six wicket total of Siddle in this test match begs the question as to why he was not included in the earlier tests by the Aussie selectors.
Siddle and his fellow bowlers were helped by indifferent strokes from Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow among another but it was the dismissal of Cook for 85 at the end of the day which finally appeared to seal the fate of England. Batsman Steve Smith had been introduced by Michael Clarke as a bowler and this tactic may have affected the concentration of the host’s captain as he misjudged the flight of the ball to offer a simple catch to Adam Voges at short leg. It was Smith’s only over.
England finished the third day having scored 203-6 and not even rain during Sunday could prevent an eventual Aussie victory although both Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali added some respectability to the total before the second innings concluded at 286.
Once again, it had proved to be a one-sided test match finishing early and that has been predominantly the case in a series which England won 3-2 but during which there has precious little excitement compared to the thrills experienced when England reclaimed the Ashes back in 2005. Five day games were normal during that summer.
Contrasting conditions of overcast and sunnier skies have been blamed for the inconsistencies from both teams but too many batsmen have been punished while attempting ambitious strokes, with several observers reflecting as to whether the one day and T20 games are eroding the more patient techniques of earlier exponents of batting.