Manchester - Australia finally broke England’s brave resistance to retain the Ashes with a 185-run victory in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Amid incredible tension on the fifth evening, England ninth-wicket pair Craig Overton and Jack Leach survived for 13.5 overs against the second new ball. But after Leach turned the leg-spin of Marnus Labuschagne to short leg, Overton was lbw to Josh Hazlewood to give Australia victory with 13.3 of the day’s 98 overs remaining.

England began on 18-2 chasing a notional 383, but more realistically looking to bat through the day and set up a series decider at The Oval. Joe Denly made 53, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler all showed defiance, and the big-hearted Overton spent 105 balls at the crease. But the relentless Australia attack was simply too much to hold back as pace bowler Pat Cummins ended with 4-43.

It means Australia will leave the UK with the urn for the first time since 2001, while England will not add the Ashes to the World Cup they won in July. England must now win the final Test if they are to avoid suffering their first home series defeat against any side since 2014. The fifth Test - coach Trevor Bayliss’ final game in charge - begins on Thursday.

Despite the result, England cannot be accused of a lack of fight in their bid to follow up the World Cup final and their third-Test win with one more remarkable Sunday. Denly’s forward defence to the first ball of the day was cheered by a crowd that was willing England to hang on, and the Kent batsman came through a number of scares to register his second half-century in as many matches.

Roy played within himself for 31 from 67 balls, only to be bowled by Cummins, who had Ben Stokes caught behind for one. Denly punched off-spinner Lyon to short leg after lunch, yet England had plenty more defiance left. Buttler used up 14 overs with Bairstow and 21 with Overton, with whom he was roared back after tea. Although Buttler’s 111-ball vigil was over when he played no shot to Hazlewood’s wonderful inswinger, even that was not the end.

Leach joined Overton to face the second new ball. Every defensive stroke, every time Leach stopped to clean his glasses, every occasion that a new pair of gloves appeared from the dressing room was greeted with delight by a crowd louder than at any point in the match. When Leach was caught by Matthew Wade, it ended a 51-ball stay and punctured the atmosphere.

Two overs later, Overton, who had earlier overturned being given out lbw to Cummins, was pinned by a Hazlewood inswinger and, this time, the review could not save him.

Australia captain said Tim Paine, who sounds very emotional, said: “Happiness, relief, very emotional, a lot of people have put in hard work for this to happen. We’d like to finish off with a series win. We’ll enjoy tonight, but focus on next week. It’s been a long, long time. We know how difficult it is to win over here. We are the lucky ones who have been here. Every player has some story or sacrifice which is what makes moments like this so great. It doesn’t happen, retaining the Ashes in England, very often but we’d like to win next week.”

England captain Joe Root said: “Thought we showed great character today, couldn’t be more proud of the effort today. As last week we always believed, we fight right to the end. We tried our hardest. We had some fantastic support, it’s bitterly disappointing.

Got to make sure we turn up for what’s still quite a big game at The Oval. You can always sit back and think what you could have done differently. But, today, you learnt a lot about your team.






(OVERNIGHT: 18-2):

R Burns c Head b Cummins 0

J Denly c Labuschagne b Lyon 53

J Root b Cummins 0

J Roy b Cummins 31

B Stokes c Paine b Cummins 1

J Bairstow lbw b Starc 25

J Buttler b Hazlewood 34

C Overton lbw b Hazlewood 21

J Archer lbw b Lyon 1

M Leach c Wade b Labuschagne 12

S Broad not out 0

EXTRAS: (b9, lb8, nb2) 19

TOTAL: (all out, 91.3 overs) 197

FOW: 1-0, 2-0, 3-66, 4-74, 5-93, 6-138, 7-172, 8-173, 9-196, 10-197.

BOWLING: P Cummins 24-9-43-4; J Hazlewood 17.3-5-31-2; N Lyon 29-12-51-2; M Starc 16-2-46-1; M Labuschagne 4-1-9-1; T Head 1-1-0-0.

TOSS: Australia

UMPIRES: K Dharmasena, Marais Erasmus

TV UMPIRE: Ruchira Palliyaguruge

MATCH REFEREE: Javagal Srinath