Ashes 2019: Marnus Labuschagne turns unlikely hero as Australia breach English resistance to retain urn

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A pivotal breakthrough provided by Labuschagne.

England nearly pulled off another Headingley miracle but a determined Australia would not be denied the decisive lead in the Ashes with a thrilling 185-run win at Manchester.

The visitors started the final day in the penultimate Test eight wickets away from victory and they were frustrated for nearly 92 overs by England’s batsmen on Sunday before finally breaking through for a hard-fought win.

The win for the Aussies means that they have now retained the Ashes urn on English soil for the first time since 2001 by taking an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

At the end of what was another fantastic day of Test cricket in the Ashes, we look at the key talking points.

Superb Cummins gives Aussies the perfect start

It proved to be hard work for Australia to pick the remaining eight England wickets on the final day, with the bowlers being put through the grind. Despite the doggedness displayed by England’s batsmen, the Aussie bowlers kept coming at them with unwavering intensity with Pat Cummins exemplifying their relentless approach.

The Australia pacer had put the hosts on the back foot late on day four by dismissing Rory Burns and Joe Root and he gave Australia just the start they needed on Sunday with an excellent morning session.

Joe Denly and Jason Roy were starting to form a frustrating stand when Cummins bowled the latter through the gates, and the Australia pacer inflicted another big blow soon after by sending back England danger man Ben Stokes.

Buttler, Denly frustrate Aussies

England coach Trevor Bayliss had called for someone to be a hero for the hosts on the final day and he nearly got them in the form of Joe Denly and Jos Buttler. Denly stuck around at the crease despite the early England wickets on day five with the makeshift Test opener notching up his second fifty of the series.

His vigil, however, was ended soon after by Nathan Lyon in the second session before Mitchell Starc cut short Jonny Bairstow’s innings at the other end.

The hosts seemed to be on the brink at 138-6 but they mustered some resistance once again through Jos Buttler and Craig Overton. The pair kept Australia’s bowlers at bay for nearly 21 overs and ensured that the hosts went into the final session with four wickets still in hand.

Buttler was among the English batsmen to frustrate Australia.

Buttler was among the English batsmen to frustrate Australia.

Labuschagne turns Australia’s unlikely hero

Buttler and Overton were turning out to be unlikely heroes for England but their defence was finally broken in the final session by the excellent Josh Hazlewood. Buttler’s decision to leave Hazlewood’s delivery proved costly with the ball seaming in sharply to topple his off-stump and end a dogged 111-ball stay at the crease.

That wicket brought another one immediately after for Australia with Lyon striking for the second time to send back Jofra Archer. If the visitors thought the two wickets would open the floodgates, howeve,r they were grossly mistaken as Overton and Jack Leach mounted their own form of resistance.

The two tail-enders stood firm against Australia for nearly 15 overs and were getting closer to pulling off the improbable for England before an inspired bowling change saw Marnus Labuschagne breach Leach’s defiance. The part time leg-spinner found Leach’s outside edge and Matthew Wade made no mistake to gobble up the chance at short-leg.

The relief and jubilation were evident for the Aussies with the wicket coming just as their hopes were fading, and Hazlewood completed the job soon after by ending Overton’s 104-ball marathon.

The most unlikeliest of bowling heroes for Australia.

The most unlikeliest of bowling heroes for Australia.

Paine joins elite company

With Australia’s thrilling win, Tim Paine has now become the first visiting skipper to retain the Ashes urn on English soil since 2001. It was Steve Waugh’s side which achieved the feat on that occasion with a thumping 4-1 series victory over the hosts.

Since then, four visiting Australia sides have attempted to do the same but have ended up on the losing side on every occasion. It is a feat which has eluded the great Ricky Ponting as well as Michael Clarke and that fact puts Paine’s achievements into context.

It all follows from the most expected of international recalls for the Tasmania wicketkeeper-batsman last year in the aftermath of ‘Sandpapergate’ in South Africa. Paine has had his critics ever since the Test captaincy was thrust upon him in Australian cricket’s darkest hour, but the measured manner in which he has led the side to Ashes glory both home and away ensures him a legacy.

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