Alastair Cook went on to complete a 119-ball fifty, including nine fours © Getty Images
Alastair Cook went on to complete a 119-ball fifty, including nine fours © Getty Images

By Julian Guyer

London: England captain Alastair Cook led his side’s resistance as they battled to avoid an innings defeat by Australia in the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval on Saturday. At tea on the third day, England, following-on, were 123 for three in their second innings — still 209 runs behind Australia’s first innings 481, which featured captain-elect Steven Smith‘s 143. Left-handed opener Cook was 54 not out and Jonny Bairstow 20 not out. England at least had the consolation of having won the Ashes at 3-1 up in the five-match series.

Opener Adam Lyth, desperate for a big score to cement his England place, saw his miserable Ashes continue when, on 10, he edged a good length ball from Peter Siddle that cut away off the pitch to Australia captain Michael Clarke at second slip. Lyth’s dismissal meant he had scored just 115 runs in nine innings this series at an average of 12.77. Alastair Cook leads England to 123 for 3 at Tea on the third day of 5th Ashes Test

His slow trudge off the ground suggested Lyth knew his Test future was hanging by a thread. Ian Bell, on nine, saw a pull off Mitchell Marsh sting the fingers of Chris Rogers at mid-wicket before going for four. But next ball lively seamer Marsh got a delivery to leap off a length and it took Bell’s glove before lobbing gently to Clarke, who will retire from international duty after this match. Cook, however, went on to complete a 119-ball fifty, including nine fours, after hitting three well-struck boundaries in one over from Marsh.


Reckless Root

Joe Root, England’s leading run-scorer this series, then became the latest home batsman this match to give his wicket away playing a careless cross-bat shot when a top-edged pull off fast bowler Mitchell Johnson flew straight to Mitchell Starc at fine leg. Root’s exit for 11 left England 99 for three. Alastair Cook scores 44th half-century on third day of 5th Ashes Test at The Oval

England had lost their last seven first-innings wickets for just 46 runs during Friday’s evening session. Their position after Root’s dismissal increased the chances of a third successive finish inside three days this series following England’s wins by eight wickets and an innings and 78 runs in the third and fourth Tests at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge respectively.

England resumed on 107 for eight in their first innings, a deficit of 374 runs. Their collapse was not as bad as Australia’s rapid decline to 60 all out on the first morning of the at Trent Bridge, where England paceman Stuart Broad took a stunning eight for 15. Adam Lyth lowest opening run-getter in Ashes history

But it made a mockery of their desire to become the first England team ever to win four Tests in a home Ashes campaign. Moeen Ali and Mark Wood, both eight not out overnight, hit out in sunny conditions ideal for batting during a ninth-wicket partnership of 57.

Ali’s 30 and Wood’s 24 were the two best scores of the innings but they fell to successive Johnson deliveries, with England dismissed for 149. Clarke then became the first Australia captain to enforce the follow-on in a Test since Ricky Ponting did so against New Zealand at Wellington in 2010 — a match Australia eventually won by 10 wickets. Players from both sides wore black armbands in memory of Australia’s Arthur Morris, one of Test cricket’s greatest opening batsman, whose death at the age of 93 was announced Saturday. Adam Lyth’s miserable Test run continues as England suffer follow-on