Australia may have retained the Ashes but there is still plenty on the line ahead of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval, including another chance for David Warner to silence his critics.
It also presents England’s players with an opportunity to redeem themselves after a that Sir Geoffrey Boycott believes will give them “nightmares” for years to come.
First though, the Poms must make a big call after naming an unchanged squad for the final Test of the series.
Follow along for all the latest news in the Ashes Daily!
Aussies retain Ashes after rain strikes | 02:32
LANGER’S HIGH PRAISE FOR BAZBALL
Former Australia Test opener and coach Justin Langer has praised England’s attacking ‘Bazball’ approach, declaring last Test delivered: “some of the most awe-inspiring cricket I have seen for a very long time.”
Writing for the UK’s Telegraph, he said: “I get it now, this Bazball thing. We had heard about it, even been threatened by it. Now we have seen in with our own eyes and I have to say it was spectacular to watch…. It was absolutely breath-taking to watch, and proved to me that this style of play could work against the best bowling attack in the world.”
Langer added he didn’t ‘get it’ in the first two Tests, but in the fourth Test “I finally understood what they were doing and why they were doing it.”
MORE ASHES NEWS
‘ON THE TABLE’: Aussies face shake-up as ‘sore’ stars open door for recall
HEADACHES: ‘Real’ Cummins question Aussies can’t ignore amid retirement ‘whisper’
4TH TEST TALKING PTS: Green honeymoon over, Marsh resurgence sparks dilemma
‘VERY UNLIKE AUSTRALIA’: Legend calls out ‘ugly’ tactics… though they worked
He also defended captain Pat Cummins, who has faced significant criticism for his poor bowling and captaincy decisions at Old Trafford.
“It should also be noted that while Australia looked like they had no answers at Old Trafford, Pat Cummins did play a big part in those early wins, leading well through his actions with both bat and ball,” Langer wrote.
“Overall, though, the Australian captain will be feeling very relieved, knowing that they are fortunate to be going to the Oval having already secured the urn.”
The Aussie legend also predicted England captain Ben Stokes could make the shock call to bowl first at the Oval should he win the toss, adding Australia will likely select a spinner after Todd Murphy missed out on the fourth Test.
And he concluded by writing: “Let’s hope the England Bazballers, can find something special one more time this series. This Ashes deserves a memorable climax because it has been some of the best Test cricket I have ever seen.”
HOW ENGLAND ‘SCREWED UP’ AN ‘OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME’
Australia great Glenn McGrath said England only had themselves to blame for their failure to regain the Ashes after rain ensured the fourth Test at Old Trafford ended in a draw.
The whole of Sunday’s final day was washed out without a ball bowled, while 60 overs were lost to bad weather on Saturday.
A draw meant Australia, as the holders, retained the Ashes at 2-1 up in the series with just this week’s fifth and final Test at The Oval in London to play.
But with the Manchester weather notorious for interrupting Tests at Old Trafford and the forecast beyond last week’s third day dire, McGrath said England had batted on too long.
England made 592 in reply to Australia’s first-innings 317, with former fast bowler McGrath arguing home captain Ben Stokes should have declared so as to give his side more time to bowl out the tourists, who were 214-5 in their second innings when play was abandoned.
“England will wipe the floor with them” | 05:47
“Looking back at that declaration (decision), if they (England) had finished at lunch on day three, given themselves 10 more overs when the ball was doing a bit more, they could easily have picked up six or seven wickets,” McGrath told the BBC.
“England had the opportunity but for some reason decided to play on after lunch which, to a degree, sealed their fate.” The hosts also had chances to win in the first two Tests at Edgbaston and Lord’s, only to fall 2-0 behind to world Test champions Australia.
McGrath, an Ashes series-winner in England in 2001 but a member of the losing Australia tour squad of 2005, added: “If they (England) had played truly ruthless cricket, they could be 3-0 up by now but they’re 2-1 down and the Ashes have gone.”
England even came under scrutiny from one of their own, with Sir Geoffrey Boycott writing in a column for The Telegraph that “hubris” cost them a “golden chance” to win the Ashes.
While England’s players were vocal in claiming some sort of Bazball-inspired moral victory after the first two Tests against Australia, Boycott wrote they lost sight of what was truly important along the way.
“England had an opportunity of a lifetime and screwed it up. The idea of losing the Ashes should give them nightmares,” he wrote.
“Before the start of the series most people, me included, felt there was not much to choose between the two teams but very quickly England showed that man for man and as a team they had the edge.
“The cricket England played was spectacular and their new brand of batting deservedly received so much praise and so many plaudits.”
It was translating to results on the field too, with England winning 10 of 12 Tests before the Ashes series. When the victories didn’t come against Australia though, the excuses piled up.
“England even gave Test match cricket a shot in the arm but then they let it go to their heads and started to say they wanted to entertain and that it did not matter if they lost because they were still going to play Bazball and change Test cricket,” Boycott added.
“When you start to believe your own self-importance then sport will bite you on the backside.
It’s called hubris. I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and it says: arrogance, conceit, superiority, and big headedness.
“Well, they did entertain at Edgbaston but reckless batting cost them the match. So England mauled Australia but lost. How galling is that? They lost sight of the object, which was to win the Ashes.”
“He’s (Warner) too scared to get out” | 01:24
ENGLAND FACE ANDERSON CALL AFTER NAMING UNCHANGED SQUAD
England are set to make a decision over veteran paceman James Anderson’s place in the side after naming an unchanged squad for this week’s final Ashes Test against Australia at The Oval.
Rain at the England great’s Old Trafford home ground washed out all of Sunday’s play and condemned the fourth Test to a draw.
That ensured holders Australia, 2-1 ahead with one to play, retained the Ashes and wrecked any chance of a winner-takes-all decider in London.
But an England win would square the series at 2-2 — the same result as when they last staged the Ashes in 2019 — and deny Australia a much longed for first away Ashes campaign triumph in 22 years.
England named an unchanged 14-man squad on Monday, with the spotlight on whether Anderson will still be in their XI come Thursday’s opening day at The Oval.
Anderson’s 689 Test wickets are the most taken by any fast bowler, with only spinners Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and Shane Warne (708) ahead of him in the all-time list.
But in the current series Anderson, who turns 41 on Sunday, has taken just four wickets in three Tests at a hugely expensive average of 76.75 apiece.
He took just the one wicket at Old Trafford after being rested for England’s win in the third Test at Headingley.
But with Ollie Robinson fit following a back spasm and novice international fast bowler Josh Tongue also in the squad, England do have alternative options.
Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, who struggled with stiffness near the end of the fourth Test, have impressed since being recalled into the side, while Stuart Broad is the leading wicket-taker in the whole Ashes.
If Anderson is left out at the The Oval, it could mean he has made the last appearance of his celebrated Test career, with England handing out their latest round of central contracts before the end of this year.
Former Test captain Michael Vaughan said on the BBC’s Ashes Daily podcast that selecting Anderson for sentimental reasons “may have cost England”.
“We all agreed that James Anderson deserved to have that sentimental pick because he’s a legend of the game, but it may have cost England,” Vaughan said.
“Josh Tongue is a young quick who has created impact in that one game that he has played, and I know the Australians don’t like facing him.
“Jimmy, in the three Test matches that he’s played in this series, has just had no impact at all.
“I don’t remember him getting a key wicket at any stage and that’s very unlike Jimmy Anderson. It might just be that for The Oval, he might not be in England’s best XI.”
England’s batting line-up is set to be unchanged after six of the top seven all made at least fifty in a total of 592 at Old Trafford.
England name unchanged squad | 00:34
GREEN ADMITS AUSTRALIA ‘GOT OUT OF JAIL’ WITH FOURTH TEST DRAW
Australia all-rounder Cameron Green admitted the tourists had “got out of jail” in an Ashes-clinching draw at Old Trafford.
England dominated the fourth Test in Manchester and led by 275 runs on first innings.
But with rain meaning only 30 overs were possible across the final two days on Saturday and Sunday, Australia held on for a draw.
The result meant Australia, as the holders, retained the Ashes — they are 2-1 up with just this week’s fifth Test at The Oval left to play.
“I think we definitely got away with one there,” Green, one of Australia’s not out batsmen, told the cricket.com.au website.
“There’s no point denying it. Whilst we were behind the game, and you never know what would have happened, cricket is a funny game, but England dominated this one. We definitely got out of jail.”
The towering 24-year-old added: “We didn’t play our best game. The rain gods were in our favour the last couple of days. You just take it and move on to the next game.”
Green’s place at The Oval is under threat, with fellow all-rounder Mitchell Marsh in fine form and Australia contemplating a recall for spinner Todd Murphy.
But whether he features or not, Green has no doubt Australia will be fully focused on securing their first Ashes series win in England in 22 years.
Australia were also 2-1 up going to The Oval four years ago but arguably paid the price for some over-enthusiastic celebrations beforehand as England won in south London to square the series at 2-2.
“The last time they were here they had a win here (Old Trafford) to retain the Ashes, but it’s a bit different this time around,” said Green.
“I’m sure a few guys are hurting from last time. We’ll keep it level-headed and looking forward to the next game.”
Murphy to come in for ‘tired’ Cummins | 01:20
CRAWLEY ADAMANT ENGLAND STILL ‘MASSIVELY UP’ FOR ASHES FINALE
England batsman Zak Crawley has insisted the hosts will have no trouble motivating themselves for this week’s fifth Test against Australia even though they can no longer regain the Ashes.
What had looked like being a thrilling series-decider at The Oval has had some of the edge removed after England’s quest to draw level in the fourth Test at Old Trafford was thwarted by rain, with only 30 overs possible across the final two days.
England dominated proceedings in Manchester, with Crawley’s superb 189 against world Test champions Australia the standout individual performance.
But a rain-marred draw left England 2-1 down in the series with just this week’s Test to come and Australia — as the holders — assured of retaining the Ashes.
Nevertheless, a win for England at The Oval would deny Australia their first away Ashes series victory since 2001.
“We’re massively up for it,” said Crawley, the series’ leading run-scorer with 385.
He added: “As Ben Stokes says, we’re building as a team, this isn’t the end just because it’s the end of the Ashes. Hopefully, it’s very much the start.
“I think 2-2 would be fair.”
‘No, not really’ Stokes’ terse response | 00:17
Prior to this series, a run of low scores saw Crawley’s Test place called into question. But England captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum continued to back the 25-year-old opener, an ever-present in the ‘Bazball’ era.
“I feel I’m as good a player as I have ever been, I feel good about my game,” said Crawley. “Fast bowling suits my game and the Australian attack is a quick attack.
“I think a bit less when they’re faster.”
Crawley has long been a target for social media abuse, even though he has long cut himself off from all networks.
“When I first went off social media I was doing alright,” he said.
“It was more getting away from it, even the good stuff, you can get carried away.
“I won’t be reading it now I’ve got runs. I’ll be keeping myself to myself, listen to close friends and family whose opinions of me as a cricketer and a person — they’re the only opinions I care about.”