Ashes 2021-22: Analysis from Day 5 of the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground

Despite an iconic wicket to Steve Smith, England have narrowly hung on for a draw in a dramatic end to the fourth Test. LACHLAN McKIRDY analyses all the key storylines from the SCG.

FINAL: Australia 8-416d & 6-265d draw with England 294 and 9-270 (Crawley 77, Stokes 60, Boland 3-30, Lyon 2-28)

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Anderson hangs on: Jimmy Anderson has batted out the final Steve Smith over to secure a draw for England and stop Australia’s chances of a 5-0 series win. It is the first match England have not lost in Australia since the 2017 Boxing Day Test match.

It is the first time Australia has not taken all 10 wickets in an innings this series, England finishing on 9-270 after the final over of the day.

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Smith’s historic wicket: Steve Smith has taken a huge wicket in the third-last over of the day to remove Jack Leach and take Australia to within just one wicket of victory.

It is Smith’s first wicket since November 2016 and just his 18th overall.

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Boland keeps hopes alive: Scott Boland has broken the resistance of Jonny Bairstow with barely 10 overs remaining in the day’s play with Australia now needing only two wickets for victory.

Boland took his 14th wicket of the series as he continues his phenomenal form from Boxing Day. Boland’s career Test average is now at 8.50 as he refuses to let it get anywhere near double figures.

A reminder, of anyone to have taken 10 or more wickets in Test cricket, Boland has the best average, ever.

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Postman Pat delivers wickets: Australian captain Pat Cummins has made the most of the new ball, taking two wickets in an over to leave Australia just three overs away from a thrilling victory in the fourth Ashes Test. Cummins produced two marvellous in-swinging deliveries to remove Jos Buttler and Mark Wood in the space of three balls.

For Cummins, it continues his marvellous record in the second innings. In home Test, Cummins now averages 21.19 with the ball in the opposition’s second innings - just down on his career average of 21.49.

In the fourth innings of Test matches at the SCG, Cummins averaged 50.50 with the ball going into the Boxing Day Test. Like the rest of the Australia’s bowlers, he struggled against India last year with figures of 1-72.

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Cummins throws Smith the ball?: In a reversal of the typical role we saw during Smith’s rein as captain, Pat Cummins gave the ball to his vice-captain as Australia raced through their overs in search of the new ball.

Smith hasn’t taken a wicket since November 2016 against South Africa in Perth. His two overs on day five in Sydney were the first time he’s bowled more than one over in an innings since the Lord’s Ashes Test match in 2019.

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Lyon entices Stokes: Nathan Lyon has got the big breakthrough, dismissing Ben Stokes for 60 after he drew his edge and Steve Smith took a good catch at first slip. The wicket came after an attacking fielding change that saw mid-off and mid-on both kept inside the ring – something that has been noticeably absent when Jack Leach has been bowling for a lot of this series.

It is the ninth time that Lyon has removed Stokes in Test cricket, only Ravichandran Ashwin (11), another right-arm off-spinner has dismissed him more times.

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TEA: England 4-174 (Crawley 77, Stokes 46*, Boland 2-19) after 67 overs trail Australia by 213 runs with 35 overs remaining

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Boland’s hold over Root: Scott Boland has taken Joe Root’s wicket for the third successive innings as Australia finally broke the key partnership the English captain was building with Ben Stokes.

Across the space of those three wickets, in 22 deliveries Root hasn’t scored a single run off Boland’s bowling.

3-0 off 22 balls? You’d take that all day long.

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Lyon tamed?: Unusually, Nathan Lyon hasn’t been seen as much as one might expect for an Australian bowling line-up on day five. Lyon has made his career out of his ability to take wickets in the fourth innings with 60 at an average of 29.

However at the SCG, Lyon has only bowled nine of 54 overs in England’s second innings. All-rounder Cameron Green has also bowled nine overs while the other three pace bowlers have shared the other 36 – suggesting captain Pat Cummins feels pace is going to be the key to victory in Sydney.

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LUNCH: England 3-122 (Crawley 77, Lyon 1-11, Boland 1-13) after 46 overs trail Australia by 272 runs

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Green’s killer instinct: Cameron Green has now taken nine wickets for the series after his dismissal of Zak Crawley. His average this Ashes currently sits at 13.55 and is a remarkable return considering he went wicketless against India last summer.

It’s also a reminder of how England haven’t been able to get any momentum with ball in hand. Australia have only been bowled out twice this Ashes series and Green has as many wickets as any English bowler (Ollie Robinson also has nine wickets at 26).

Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc remain Australia’s highest wicket-takers this series with 15 a piece heading towards the lunch break.

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Crawley finds form: Zak Crawley finally made his mark on this Ashes series after glimpses of brilliance in innings that have seemingly ended too early this tour. As Crawley made his way to 77 on Day 5, it made it his second highest score in Test cricket after 17 matches.

However, not long after he was trapped on the pads by Cameron Green and had to leave the field after 100 balls out in the middle.

With England sitting at 3-96, it also meant that Crawley was responsible for over 80 per cent of England’s first innings runs at his dismissal.

It means Crawley’s highest score remains 267 against Pakistan in Southampton in 2020. How England could have used a century from their opener today.

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Root bounces back: Uncharacteristically, Joe Root was out for a duck in England’s first innings, their first for the year after a record 2021. However, history shows the English captain has always found a way to bounce back after failing to trouble the scorers in the first innings.

In matches where he has been dismissed for a duck in the first innings, he has always gone on to make at least a half-century in the second.

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Lyon’s English record: Nathan Lyon has become just the 19th bowler in history to take 100 wickets or more against England in Test cricket. Lyon used the pitch masterfully to skid one through Dawid Malan and straight onto his stumps just before drinks in the first session.

He becomes the 13th Australian to bring up the record and just the seventh spinner to achieve the feat.

It is also the fifth time that Lyon has removed Malan in Test cricket. No bowler has dismissed the English left-hander more times.

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Hameed’s struggles continue: Haseeb Hameed has departed cheaply again, despite being given a life again by Alex Carey. Carey dropped a relatively routine edge off Pat Cummins before making up for his mistake by taking his next chance off Scott Boland.

For Hameed, who departed for nine, it’s his sixth consecutive score in single digits. Since Adelaide, Hameed has produced scores of 6, 0, 0, 7, 6 & 9.

Despite some positive contributions in Brisbane that have boosted his stats, Hameed’s average for the series now sits at 10.00 through four matches with only 80 runs for the series.

CricViz stats show that for an opener who has batted in at least eight innings in a series, it is the third-lowest average in history.

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STUMPS: England 294 & 0-30 (Crawley 22*, Hameed 8*) after 11 overs trail Australia 8-416d. & 6-265d. (Khawaja 101*, Green 74, Leach 4-84) by 358 runs

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State of play: A thrilling day five is in store after England’s openers produced their best partnership of the series to keep all 10 wickets in hand as they look to chase down 388.

It would be a record by 100 runs if England were to chase the total down, the previous highest successful fourth innings chase at the SCG is when Australia scored 2-288 against South Africa in 2006 – the last match that feature twin tons in Sydney (Ricky Ponting’s famous 100th Test)!

For Australia, they will be confident in their ability to take all 10 English wickets, especially considering the tourists have not posted a score above 300 through the Ashes series. The one match this series that has gone deep into Day 5 was Adelaide where they took 113.1 overs to bowl England out. They only have 113 overs this Test.

Nathan Lyon looks set to be the key man for Australia after Jack Leach’s success on day four. It has been well spoken about his disappointing record at the SCG, but he certainly improves later in the Test. In the fourth innings in Sydney, Lyon averages 34.15 – his best of any innings at the SCG. And while he didn’t have the match he would have liked against India in 2021, his 10-118 against New Zealand a year earlier will be fresh in his mind.

Fresh in Australia’s mind will be their inability to bowl out India in the 2021 New Year’s Test. On day five last season, Australia were only able to take three Indian wickets as Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin batted stoically for a famous draw. Will we see something similar today?

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