An inspired five-wicket spell by Stuart Broad saw England dramatically turn the tables on Australia in the deciding Ashes Test at The Oval on Friday.
The young paceman ripped through the Australian top order to leave them reeling on 133 for eight at tea on the second day. Replying to England’s 332, Australia reached 73 without loss until Broad trapped Shane Watson leg before wicket for 34. Australian captain Ricky Ponting looked unsettled during his brief spell at the crease before he chopped a ball from Broad on to his own stumps to go for eight. Mike Hussey, who has endured a miserable Ashes series, went for a third ball duck as Broad again struck and Australia were reeling. Michael Clarke drove Broad uppishly to be held by Jonathan Trott for just three runs and Australia were deep in trouble. Off-spinner Graeme Swann came on for his second spell and took the fifth wicket to fall, trapping Marcus North leg before wicket for eight. Television replays indicated that Headingley hero North had got an inside edge to the delivery and he left the field shaking his head. Swann claimed the sixth wicket to remove obdurate opener Simon Katich for exactly 50, turning the ball sharply to have him caught at short leg by Alastair Cook. Broad then completed his triumphant five-wicket haul by bowling Brad Haddin for one before Swann had Mitchell Johnson caught for 11 by a sharp catch by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.. England resumed overnight on 307 for eight wickets and quickly lost James Anderson for a duck, trapped leg before wicket by Ben Hilfenhaus.
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It ended Anderson’s run of 54 Test innings without being dismissed before scoring. Broad was the last man out for 37, flashing Hilfenhaus to Ponting at slip, leaving England 332 all out. On a pitch offering some encouragement to the bowlers, Australian openers Katich and Watson did well to survive a fiery pre-lunch spell from Andrew Flintoff, who is playing in his final Test before retiring. Flintoff missed the fourth Test at Headingley, won so convincingly by Australia, because of fears over his knee injury, but he showed no signs it was troubling him as he charged in. The all-rounder had two strong appeals for leg before wicket turned down against Watson, the second especially close.
Flintoff continued his fine spell after a lunch interval which was extended by a rain break, but it was Broad who eventually stepped up to claim the wickets which boost England’s chances of winning back the Ashes. Australia only need a draw in the fifth and final Test to retain the coveted urn, but England require a victory to regain them with the series all square at 1-1.