England regain Ashes

England regain Ashes

England's Andrew Strauss, centre front, lifts the Ashes after England beat Australia on the fourth day of the fifth Ashes cricket test match at the Oval cricket ground, London on Sunday. AP

After setting Australia an improbable target of 546 runs, the hosts wrapped up Australia's second innings at 348 at The Oval to clinch the series 2-1 and make Andrew Flintoff's swansong Test a memorable event.

A packed Oval crowd erupted into celebration when spinner Greame Swann dismissed Michael Hussey to draw curtains on a keenly contested series between the arch-rivals.
Hussey stood tall amid the ruins with a valiant 121-run knock while skipper Ricky Ponting also batted bravely for his 66 before Flintoff effected his brilliant run out.

Ponting suffered the ignominy of being the only the second Australia captain in 132 years of Ashes history to lose two series on England soil.

The other was Australia's first touring captain Billy Murdoch a century ago. Murdoch lost his second series in 1890.

Young paceman Stuart Broad was adjudged Man-of-the-Match award for his brilliant all round show.

He took six wickets in the match including a five-wicket haul which triggered first innings collapse of Australia, who were all out for 160.

He also contributed with the bat with the scores of 37 and 29 in the match.

England captain Andrew Strauss and Australia's Michael Clarke were joint winners of the Man-of-the-Series award for their splendid show with the bat throughout.

The visitors were going strong at one stage as they had moved to 217 for two from the overnight score of 80 for none.

Skipper Ponting and Hussey put up 107 runs for the third wicket before Flintoff, playing the final Test of his career, broke the partnership with a brilliant direct hit.

The early wicket of Clarke (10), who again was a run out victim, meant that England could get back the Ashes urn on the fourth day itself.

A determined Hussey then joined hands with stumper Brad Haddin to frustrate the home fans as they stitched together a 91-run stand.

Swann brought the smiles back when he had Haddin caught by Strauss at mid-wicket. Pacer Steve Hraminson then took two wickets in two balls and writing was clear on the board for Australia.

Flintoff and Strauss had stunned Australia with two run-outs, the first they'd suffered this series, before tea to dismiss Ponting and Clarke.

Ponting and Hussey had frustrated England with a third-wicket stand of 127 that raised hopes of an improbable victory.

But Flintoff struck in unlikely fashion.

Hussey called Ponting for a single off Harmison but Flintoff, running round from mid-on, threw down the stumps at the striker's end and Ponting was short of his ground by a foot.

Ponting, in what could be his final Ashes Test in England, had to go for 66, having stroked 10 stylish fours in his 103-ball stay after he and left-hander Hussey had revived Australia from the depths of 90 for two.

Vice-captain Clarke fell in even more extraordinary fashion.

Australia's leading batsman this series, clipped a ball from Swann that deflected off the boot of Alastair Cook at short leg to leg-slip Strauss, who hit the stumps with a sharp under-arm throw.

This was a much tighter call for third umpire Peter Hartley but he eventually ruled the bail was in the air with Clarke's bat still to be grounded.

Clarke was out for nought and Australia, who'd lost two wickets for three runs in six balls, were now 220 for four.

And they could have been five down had not Collingwood dropped Hussey, on 55, off Swann.

But Australia were 236 for five when Marcus North, trying to sweep Swann, was smartly stumped by wicket-keeper Matt Prior.

Australia resumed Sunday on 80 without loss.

Left-hander Simon Katich had only added one to his overnight 42 when, padding up, he was plumb lbw to Swann.

Three balls later, fellow opener Shane Watson (40) was lbw to man-of-the-match Stuart Broad.

England consolidated Saturday the advantage gained from dismissing Australia for just 160, with Broad taking five for 37, in a second innings 373 for nine declared that featured a debut century from Jonathan Trott, who made 119.

Strauss's declaration left the visitors needing to break the record for a successful Test fourth innings run-chase, of 418 for seven set by West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2002/03, to win this match.

England victory's left Ponting with the unwanted record of becoming only the second Australia captain, since Billy Murdoch in 1890, to be in charge of two losing Ashes tours of England.

And it also knocked Australia off top spot in the Test rankings.

Score board

England v Australia fifth Test scoreboard

England 1st Innings:   332 all out

Australia 1st Innings: 160 all out

England 2nd Innings:   373-9 dec

Australia 2nd Innings (overnight: 80-0)

S Watson lbw b Broad              40
S Katich lbw b Swann              43
R Ponting run out (Flintoff)      66
M Hussey c Cook b Swann          121
M Clarke run out (Strauss)         0
M North st Prior b Swann          10
B Haddin c Strauss b Swann        34
M Johnson c Collingwood b Harmison       0
P Siddle c Flintoff b Harmison          10
S Clark c Cook b Harmison          0
B Hilfenhaus not out               4

Extras (b7, lb7, nb6)              20
Total (all out, 102.2 overs, 434 mins)  348

Fall of wickets: 1-86 (Katich), 2-90 (Watson), 3-217 (Ponting), 4-220 (Clarke), 5-236 (North), 6-327 (Haddin), 7-327 (Johnson), 8-343 (Siddle), 9-343 (Clark), 10-348 (Hussey)

Bowling: Anderson 12-2-46-0 (1nb); Flintoff 11-1-42-0 (1nb); Harmison 16-5-54-3 (4nb); Swann 40.2-8-120-4; Broad 22-4-71-1; Collingwood 1-0-1-0

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