Australia need to copy Bazball to win Ashes – McGrath

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Ever since the first ball in Manchester, Australia had a mindset of not wanting to lose the crucial fourth Test.

They knew the rain, which ensured the game ended in a draw, was forecast for the last two days and were in survival mode, rather than looking to attack and dominate.

It was not the normal Australian way but I would never call it ‘Un-Australian’ because this is a successful Test team.

They did what they had to do.

It may have looked ugly and negative but Australia’s tactics worked. Their first job when arriving here was to retain the Ashes, which they have now done courtesy of their 2-1 lead with one match to play.

But Australia’s next job is to go and win a series in England for the first time since 2001 and I am hoping we see a different mindset at The Oval from Thursday.

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I have to be honest, England dominated this match.

It was their ‘Bazball’ style in its finest form but Ben Stokes’ decision not to declare earlier on day three cost them victory.

England were 506-8, leading by 189, but Stokes decided to bat long into the afternoon session.

Jonny Bairstow’s 99 not out may have been brilliant for team morale but had Stokes pulled out England would have had another 10 overs when the ball was reverse swinging late on the third day.

England can say they were unlucky but it rained as much as was forecast.

Afterwards Stokes talked about the bigger picture, his desire to reenergise the longest format, and that is important.

But it is worrying me England might be using that as a tactic to deflect – that they are doing everything they can to take all of the pressure off themselves.

Yes, talk about your style of play but once you cross that line you have to do everything to win.

England have the attributes to become a great team but the best teams embrace the pressure. They should have declared at lunch and backed themselves to bowl Australia out.

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Still, there is much to admire about England and this Test will be remembered for Zak Crawley’s brilliant 189.

I have always been a big fan of Crawley and, on the best batting surface of the series, he gave Pat Cummins his most difficult day as Australia captain.

As England racked up 592 at almost five-and-a-half runs per over, Cummins looked tired – not physically but mentally.

He has done an excellent job since being appointed in 2021, winning the Ashes at home, the World Test Championship this year and had not had any real negative press.

In Manchester he was put under the pump for the first time.

Being skipper as a bowler is a hard job. You cannot wander down to fine leg between overs and switch off and the difficulty goes up another level in an Ashes series, when there is so much outside noise.

Cummins will now know all about it. The true Test of his captaincy will come at The Oval.

He had Sunday with his feet up and the pressure should be alleviated now Australia have retained the urn.

I hope Australia take something from the best of England’s style when they turn up in south London and analyse what happened this week.

Cummins and the management have had this plan to set the field back ever since the opening delivery of the series but it was not the fours and sixes that hurt them at Old Trafford. It was the constant availability of ones and twos that had the bigger impact.

You have got to back yourself to force a batter to hit good shots for boundaries off good balls more often. Set a field with more chance of getting a wicket.

Australia may say this ploy has worked but now they have retained the Ashes I would like to see them be more aggressive. Play with freedom and take to the field without fear.

We saw it from Marnus Labuschagne with his century at Old Trafford on day four, and Mitchell Marsh at Headingley.

I would rather see Australia lose the last Test by backing themselves, really taking it to England, rather than going down with a whimper.

Winning in England for the first time since 2001, beating this energised England team under Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, should be massive motivation.

To return to Australia with a 3-1 victory would be huge response to Bazball – an incredible achievement.

People will say England could be 3-0 up and they would be right.

Had they been smarter earlier in the series, not dropped so many vital catches, they would still be alive. They certainly should have won the first Test at Edgbaston.

But England have also had the better of conditions and won four tosses.

Ultimately the series has been so tight it is pointless trying to debate which way the score should or should not be. The first three Tests could have gone either way.

Now Australia need to give everything they have got. It is time to not worry about saving anything and go out and win the Ashes.

Glenn McGrath was speaking to BBC Sport’s Matthew Henry

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