Australia will finally bring the Ashes home from England for the first time since 2001 after bowling England out in the final hour of play on Day 5 of an enthralling Test at Old Trafford.
Marnus Labuschagne was the hero after breaking what could have been a match-saving 9th wicket partnership between Jack Leach and Craig Overton, dismissing Leach with a gripping leg-spinner before Josh Hazelwood picked up the final wicket after he trapped Overton plumb in front.
In what was a quite fitting end to the Test, Overton referred the decision to the third umpire as the Aussies had to watch the big screen to find out that they would be retaining the urn in England for the first time in almost two decades.
Having endured the heartbreak of Headingly a fortnight earlier, Tim Paine was able to pull the right strings as his bowlers held their nerve on another dramatic final day with Pat Cummins (4-43) leading the charge.
But it was Paine’s move to bring on Labuschagne to break a nearly 15-over 9th wicket partnership that was the masterstroke, more than making up for his third Test showing which saw him unable to steer Australia a win after leading by 358 runs in the second innings.
All that is now forgotten as all that remains for the Aussies is securing a series win in England for the first time since Steve Waugh’s 2001 side when they begin the final Test at The Oval on Thursday.
The Australians had to endure a massive fight from England as they batted superbly to try and save the day.
Joe Denly was the batsman to note, scoring 53 runs from his 123 balls faced before Lyon got one to bounce sharply shortly after lunch to dismiss the opener.
Australia started the day needing just eight wickets to retain the Ashes, and they started fruitfully with the wickets of Jason Roy and Ben Stokes coming within five overs of each other prior to lunch.
After Lyon dismissed Denly, Johnny Bairstow and Jos Buttler batted together for 14 overs before Bairstow was trapped in front by Mitchell Starc.
Bairstow reviewed Kumar Dharmasena’s decision, but the review saw the decision remain as it showed the wickets hitting as ‘umpire’s call’, ending Australia’s rough luck with the Decision Review System.
Buttler hung around for a further 21 overs before he left a peach from Hazelwood which will and truly saw the Aussies swing the game back in their favour.
Archer was dismissed an over later, before the 9th wicket partnership of Leach and Overton threated to spoil Australia’s day as they put together 23 runs from a long 14 overs.
But Labuschagne’s breakthrough dismissal of Leach was all the Aussies needed as two overs later, Hazelwood had Overton LBW and the rest is history.
Steve Smith was rightfully awarded player of the Test after his stunning knock of 211 runs in the first innings, followed by a crucial 82 in the second, proving to be the difference yet again between the two sides as he continued his record-breaking series.
Australia now heads into the 5th test at The Oval starting on Thursday knowing they have the urn in the bag, but will be looking to end the series on a high and come away with what would be a groundbreaking series win on away soil.