Ashes live: score and latest updates as Ben Stokes drops Steve Smith while celebrating

Ben Stokes drops Steve Smith

Stokes caught Smith in his right hand, but dropped the ball as he began to celebrate – GETTY IMAGES/ADRIAN DENNIS

By Nick Hoult, Chief Cricket Correspondent, at the Oval

The fifth Ashes Test is slipping away from England, quite literally after a catch dropped by captain Ben Stokes that could prove crucial.

After a blank day as far as wickets were concerned on day four, England hit back taking three for 34 in the first hour as Chris Woakes exploited perfect bowling conditions to remove both openers and Zak Crawley caught Marnus Labuschagne off Mark Wood for 13.

But this series has been a constant to and fro and once again it turned with an unbroken stand of 69 between Travis Head and Steve Smith that again made Australia favourites.

On the stroke of lunch, Moeen Ali found some grip and turn, the ball deflected off Smith’s glove, and Stokes at leg slip caught the ball above his head but dropped it as he threw it up in celebration. England reviewed but the onfield umpires had determined he was not in control of the ball, a fair enough decision and Stokes himself looked guilty at the time.

He argued with the umpires as they left the field, possibly the enormity of the moment sinking in as Smith looks determined to take his team home to their first Ashes win in England for two decades.

02:05 PM BST

Weather watch

The probability of rain between now and 4pm is 60 per cent and then reduces to 10 and further down to five for the remainder of the match. England have bowled 28 of the 98 available on day five. If they lose 90 minutes that would equate to about 25 overs which would mean Australia ought to have about 45 overs to chase 146 which they could do, exploiting the gaps in Test match fields, without undue risk. But, although it’s gloomy in south London right now, it doesn’t seem to be raining.

01:54 PM BST

Swing time again

What a session. England won the first hour and looked to be charging home. But, as great opponents do, Australia formed a partnership and look in great touch. Ben Stokes’s catch?  Could that be the critical moment on this final day or may the weather have her say again. We will know soon enough. 

01:50 PM BST

Good afternoon

Rob Bagchi here, taking over from Rob Smyth, winner of the live blogging Compton-Miller medal for the umpteenth time. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow left the field questioning Joel Wilson over why they had to review whether it was a fair catch or not. But, as I think he said, he had already judged that Stokes had dropped it and if they wanted to challenge his decision then it was for them to review not the umpires to send it upstairs.

01:35 PM BST


Yet another eventful session in this brainbuster of a series. England, inspired by Chris Woakes, took three early wickets to reduce Australia to 169/3. Steve Smith and Travis Head launched an increasingly ominous counter-attack until, on the stroke of lunch, Ben Stokes caught Smith and then dropped the ball in the act of celebrating.

Sometimes, not even superheroes get to write their own scripts. Stokes has talked throughout the series about having no regrets – apart from dropping Nathan Lyon in the final hour at Edgbaston. It will be disgustingly cruel if the Ashes is bookended by match-losing drops from one of the greatest fielders England have ever had.

Verdict: not out. Ben Stokes leapt and caught it but never had full control over the ball and his own movement, just like the Starc non catch at Lord’s.

01:30 PM BST

OVER 66: AUS 238/3 (Smith 39 Head 31)

That was extraordinary. Stokes took it beautifully, and then went to throw the ball up in celebration. As he did so, his arm hit his thigh and the ball dropped to the floor. It’s the correct decision but a shattering moment for Stokes, whose only regret of the series to date was his failure to take an amazing catch to dismiss Nathan Lyon at Edgbaston. He knew immediately that he’d made a mistake, but his head was so scrambled that he will signalled a review. Perhaps he thought it was a freebie because they were checking for a fair catch rather than an LBW or an edge. Either way, that’s lunch.

As the players walk off, Stokes has an animated chat with the umpires. He’s unhappy that England have lost a review; because of that and an unusually poor LBW review this morning, they have only one left.

01:26 PM BST

Smith is not out!

The ball from Moeen gripped and turned to hit the glove before looping to Stokes at leg slip. He stretched out a telescopic arm to take the ball cleanly – and brilliantly – but it slipped out of his hand as he started to celebrate. England won’t be happy about that because it was a clean catch, but ultimately he wasn’t in control of the ball and his body. It’s the right decision. It’s also another extraordinary moment in a series full of them: Stokes has done a Herschelle Gibbs.

01:24 PM BST

England review against Smith!

This is all very odd. Smith turned Moeen to leg slip, where Stokes seemed to drop the ball – but then he reviewed.

01:23 PM BST

OVER 65: AUS 237/3 (Smith 39 Head 31)

Wood goes round the wicket and tests Head with a perfect short ball. Head does extremely well to drop it in front of short leg, where Brook plays an air hook to demonstrate what he would have done.

It’s really dark at the Oval now, and Head has no interest in hooking on the stroke of lunch. The rest of the over passes without bat meeting ball.

01:20 PM BST

OVER 64: AUS 235/3 (Smith 37 Head 31)

Smith works Moeen off the pads for four more. He has never, ever made a century in the fourth innings of a Test. He hasn’t even made a fifty in the fourth innings since 2016. I hear you.

01:16 PM BST

OVER 63: AUS 231/3 (Smith 33 Head 31)

Head fences a bumper from Wood through the vacant backward point region for a single. With the field set for bouncers, Wood tries a surprise full ball to Smith, who belts it unceremoniously through mid-off for four. Just as Don Bradman didn’t believe in the law of averages, Steve Smith doesn’t believe in surprises.

It gives me precisely no pleasure to report that Smith looks in ominous touch. I suppose it would be grimly appropriate if he made his ninth Test century in England to seal a series victory.

01:11 PM BST

OVER 62: AUS 223/3 (Smith 26 Head 30)

Moeen dismissed Head in both innings at Edgbaston, though he went for a few sixes as well from memory. “C’mon Mozer!” barks Jonny Bairstow, doubtless a nod to the rugged Brazilian centre-back of the early 1990s. Head sweeps flat and hard for a single, then Smith gets outside the line to negate a potential LBW appeal. There’s a bit in this for Moeen.

01:08 PM BST

OVER 61: AUS 222/3 (Smith 26 Head 29)

Another gamble from Stokes, who brings on Mark Wood in place of Broad. That is likely mean one of two things: the wicket of Travis Head, or some quick boundaries.

The first ball is short, towards the armpit, and Head jumps inside the line to work it for a single. Smith pulls another, then Head rather awkwardly defends a well directed short ball. He managed to get on top of it in the end. Australia need 162 to win.

The BBC are reporting that Wood has a bruised heel, which may be why he bowled so little yesterday.

01:02 PM BST

OVER 60: AUS 221/3 (Smith 26 Head 28)

A roll of the dice from Ben Stokes: Moeen Ali is coming on in place of James Anderson. Smith sets the agenda by driving the first ball for four to bring up an outstanding fifty partnership from just 61 balls, then inadvertently nutmegs himself after pushing defensively at a lovely offbreak. That was quite similar to Joe Root’s dismissal on Saturday.

Another big offbreak hits Smith, offering no shot, and runs towards fine leg. He wasn’t playing a shot so Australia don’t get the two legbyes. Smith is not entirely in agreement with the decision.

In unwelcome news, Nasser Hussain has just said on Sky Sports that it is now forecast to rain in south London between around 2-4pm.

12:57 PM BST

OVER 59: AUS 215/3 (Smith 21 Head 27)

Broad smiles wryly after beating Head yet again with a big outswinger from round the wicket. This is such an important passage of play. If England dismiss Head before lunch, and especially if Broad is the bowler, the atmosphere will change completely.

Head continues to put away the bad ball, flicking behind square for four more. He misses an attempted hook – for once in this series, the short ball was a surprise – and defends a hooping inswinger. Super cricket.

James Anderson, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad talk tactics

James Anderson, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad talk tactics. – John Walton/PA

12:53 PM BST

OVER 58: AUS 211/3 (Smith 21 Head 23)

Anderson changes the angled by coming over the wicket to Head. This is an extended morning session, with lunch at 1.25pm. Australia could do a lot of damage before then.

It’s a much better over from Anderson, swinging the ball both ways from a full length. Head pummels an on-drive that is superbly stopped by Wood at mid-on. “Field like demons,” said Geoffrey Boycott in his briefing this morning, and Wood saved three runs there.

The last ball of the over kicks up at Smith, whose defensive strokes bounces past off stump and through to Bairstow.

Steve Smith

The inimitable Steve Smith. – Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

12:47 PM BST

OVER 57: AUS 210/3 (Smith 21 Head 22)

Smith drives Broad through extra cover for four more, a beautifully placed shot. Broad and Anderson have spent the last 15 years building pressure on batsmen. Today, after replacing Woakes and Wood, they have released it. Since the double bowling change, Australia have scored 35 in six overs.

12:43 PM BST

OVER 56: AUS 206/3 (Smith 17 Head 22)

Yep, Australia are targeting Jimmy Anderson all right. Head puts him away for consecutive boundaries, a clip through midwicket followed by a blistering square drive. They weren’t great deliveries, but it’s still superb batting from Head, who started Australia’s English summer with a decisive counter-attack against India on this ground.

Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad walk over to have a chat with Anderson, who looks thoroughly cheesed off. He has struggled this morning, with figures of 3-0-18-0.

Cracking counter from Travis Head here. He’s played and missed a lot, but England need to tighten up to him. His strengths, it is fair to say, are no secret.

12:38 PM BST

OVER 55: AUS 198/3 (Smith 17 Head 14)

Head drives Broad for a single, which takes Australia to the halfway point of their chase: 192 down, literally 192 to go. The ball is still swinging, and Smith works a big inducker past leg slip for another single. His eye is so good.

Broad won’t mind that as it means another crack at Head, who is beaten again by some extravagant movement outside off stump. He missed that by a mile. Head has been beaten four times in two overs, but he’s always alert to scoring opportunities. When Broad drifts onto the pads, Head puts him away for four. Australia need 186 to win.

12:32 PM BST

OVER 54: AUS 191/3 (Smith 16 Head 8)

This is a really good – and slightly weird – stat from my colleague Rob Bagchi. James Anderson has dismissed Steve Smith eight times in Tests, but only once in England and that was ten years ago. I know he missed a number of Tests in 2015 and 2019 but that is still a surprise.

Smith takes a single, which allows Head to clatter a square drive for four. It looks like Australia might be targeting Anderson today.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith versus England, again. – Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe

12:28 PM BST

OVER 53: AUS 185/3 (Smith 15 Head 3)

Broad replaces Wood, who bowled a menacing spell of 3-0-9-1. I’m surprised he didn’t get a fourth over. Mind you, Broad was all over Head in the first innings and he beats him first up with a gorgeous full-length outswinger.

Head’s strike rate makes him very dangerous in a runchase, so England will be desperate to get him early on. A sizzling over from Broad ends with consecutive deliveries going past the outside edge.

A lot of talk about the ball. England have Dan Lawrence on the field as a sub for Mark Wood right now. In the post-saliva era, he’s sometimes used as a ball shiner for England, using lower back sweat (which is all legal, by the way…).

12:23 PM BST

OVER 52: AUS 183/3 (Smith 15 Head 1)

Jimmy Anderson, on for Woakes, almost strikes first ball when Smith fresh-airs a back-foot drive. He was actually beaten on the inside.

A loose ball runs away for four leg-byes, and then Smith hammers an emphatic on-drive to the boundary. He looks a bit ominous.

12:16 PM BST

OVER 51: AUS 175/3 (Smith 11 Head 1)

Wood is so dangerous when he swings the ball, even when his pace is in the high 80s (as it is today) rather than the mid 90s. Head just manages to flick an inswinger to fine leg for a single; good job he did. Then Smith is turned round by a full, straight outswinger and gets a leading edge into the off side. That was extremely close to LBW. A startled Smith purses his lips like a fish. That’s drinks. It’s been a fantastic first hour for England, who have taken three wickets for 40 in 13 overs.

Steve Smith was looking up at the sky just now, and not unreasonably. It got very dark very briefly, but those clouds have passed.

12:10 PM BST

OVER 50: AUS 173/3 (Smith 10 Head 0)

For the umpteenth time, maybe the final time, it’s Steve Smith versus England. A tempting outswinger from Woakes is smashed over extra cover for four. I’m not sure Smith meant to hit it in the air but it comfortably cleared the two fielders on the drive.

12:07 PM BST

OVER 49: AUS 169/3 (Smith 6 Head 0)

That was the last ball of the over. Wood and Woakes, whose introduction at Headingley changed the series, have delivered for England yet again.

12:05 PM BST


Labuschagne c Crawley b Wood 13 Mark Wood, you beauty! Labuschagne edges a brilliant outswinger towards second slip, where Zak Crawley swoops to take a fine low catch. He’s been flawless in the slips in this series.

That’s a huge wicket for England and a lovely bit of bowling from Wood, who jumped wider on the crease to create a deceptive angle. Labuschagne felt for a ball that he could have left, and Crawley did the rest. FOW: 169/3

11:58 AM BST

OVER 48: AUS 164/2 (Labuschagne 13 Smith 6)

An 82mph legbreak from Woakes is ignored by Labuschagne, whose judgement outside off stump has improved immeasurably as the series has progressed. But he’s beaten two balls later by a peach of an outswinger. This has been such a good spell from Woakes: 5-0-10-2. He would love to take one more before he goes into the outfield for a rest.

Don’t know what viewers and spectators think, but it looks like a particularly dark ball – not red at all – that England have got hooping around this morning.

11:54 AM BST

OVER 47: AUS 162/2 (Labuschagne 12 Smith 6)

Mark Wood replaces Stuart Broad. He bowled only three overs yesterday – England say it was tactical, but there has been speculation about his fitness. Wood’s pace is modest by his standards, between 85 and 88mph , but he does get one to bounce extravagantly at a wide-eyed Smith, who aborts his intended attacking stroke. There’s a bit of swing, too, so if Wood can rev up towards his usual speed, he’ll be a serious threat.

Whoever forecast that DRS would reduce the drama was wrong. An instant verdict giving out Khawaja or Warner , without any recourse to appeal, would of course have been celebrated joyously by the Oval crowd. But when the tension lasts a couple of minutes, as the ball is replayed, there is even more drama… and joy when the decision goes England’s way.

11:51 AM BST

OVER 46: AUS 160/2 (Labuschagne 12 Smith 4)

Woakes has been overshadowed by Broad and Anderson for his entire career, so it will be strange if he steals the show on Broad’s big day. If England win, Broad will not care one iota.

The moment I type that, Woakes sends down his first bad ball of the day, a rancid half-volley that is clipped through midwicket for four by Labuschagne, who moves into double figures from his 16th delivery. He made 9 from 82 on Friday.

Labuschagne inside-edges a good ball past the stumps for two, with the hamstrung Moeen Ali improvising to save the boundary with his right foot. Nicely done.

Khawaja, incidentally, ends the series as the leading runscorer on either side: 496 at 49.60, from 1263 balls. Only Labuschagne (681 and counting) has faced half as many deliveries.

Chris Woakes

Chris Woakes rues his luck after an inside-edge misses the stumps. – Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

11:45 AM BST

OVER 45: AUS 154/2 (Labuschagne 6 Smith 4)

Broad is getting extravagant inswing – too much so when one delivery to Labuschagne swerves down the leg side for four byes.

Labuschagne, who was criticised for being too passive when he made 9 from 82 balls in the first innings, skims a superb cover drive for four. This is great stuff.

A lot of chat about the ball change we saw in the last over play yesterday, when Wood clanged one into Khawaja’s lid. I reckon the Aussies are right to complain; this one looks a fair bit newer, and is behaving differently.

11:41 AM BST

OVER 44: AUS 145/2 (Labuschagne 1 Smith 4)

Steve Smith gets off the mark with a thick edge for four. That’s the first boundary of a superb morning for England: six overs, 10 runs, two wickets.

11:37 AM BST


Khawaja LBW b Woakes 72 Woakes strikes again! This is a swing- and seam-bowling clinic from England’s home banker. Khawaja pushes defensively at a beautiful inducker that thuds into the pad. Khawaja reviews, though I’m not sure why: it was hitting middle stump halfway up. FOW: 141/2

11:34 AM BST

OVER 43: AUS 141/1 (Khawaja 72 Labuschagne 1)

Broad goes wider on the crease to beat Labuschagne, who was out first ball to a similar delivery in the first innings at Edgbaston. England are all over Australia this morning, and Labuschagne survives two LBW appeals in three balls, both from excellent inswingers. The first was too high, the second hit him outside the line. At least I think it did, but Ben Stokes has reviewed. Here comes the replay… yes, he was outside the line, so England lose a review. That’s an unusually poor review from Stokes.

There was a bit of respect from the Oval crowd for Warner’s final Test innings in England. He batted well here and, I have to say, I have found the noise around his place a little unfair on this tour. Reckon he’s battled hard in a tough gig.

I agree with this, and his performance at Lord’s was crucial. He ends with 285 runs at 28.50; all those unconverted starts – seven scores between 24 and 66 – will irritate him.

11:28 AM BST

OVER 42: AUS 141/1 (Khawaja 72 Labuschagne 1)

The new batsman Marnus Labuschagne is beaten by a classic outswinger from Woakes, who has bowled majestically this morning – and ever since he came into the team at Headingley. He now has 16 wickets at an average of 19.

No David Warner wicket for Stuart Broad on his final day as a Test cricketer, but he won’t mind that. For all the talk about Stuart Broad around the wicket to David Warner – but Chris Woakes has got him out 4 times for 22 runs this series, all the dismissals from over the wicket and all in the last two Tests. The ball is moving notably more since the ball change, at 126-0 yesterday, after Khawaja was hit on the helmet by Wood. Ever since, England have packed the slips with catchers – now three in place for Broad to Labuschagne.

David Warner

David Warner leaves the field for the last time in an Ashes Test. – Adrian Dennis/AFP

11:25 AM BST


Woakes c Bairstow b Warner 60 That’s what England needed! David Warner has fallen to a snorter from his most recent nemesis, Chris Woakes: over the wicket, immaculate length, with just enough seam movement and bounce to take the outside edge as Warner pushed defensively. That’s the fourth consecutive innings in which Woakes has dismissed Warner. He did very little wrong there, and walks off to a warm ovation after his final Ashes innings. FOW: 140/1

11:23 AM BST

OVER 41: AUS 142/0 (Warner 60 Khawaja 72)

Khawaja pushes Broad through mid-on for two and then misses an attempted pull. It’s rare to see him miss that shot, so maybe the pitch is becoming two-paced. Broad ends another excellent over by beating Khawaja outside off. England have built more pressure in three overs this morning than they did in 38 yesterday.

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad in action at the Oval. – Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

11:18 AM BST

OVER 40: AUS 138/0 (Warner 60 Khawaja 70)

The ball was changed yesterday afternoon when Usman Khawaja was hit on the helmet, and the replacement is much harder, almost a new ball. England have to make it count.

With the ball swinging, Chris Woakes is preferred to James Anderson. Never thought I’d type that sentence. Warner scrunches a drive for one, then Woakes has a big LBW appeal against Khawaja turned down. It pitched outside leg, but this has been a promising start from England.

A note from England on why Joe Root is wearing a black armband…

Joe Root will be wearing a black armband today in respect of Mr Richard Ibbotson passing away suddenly.

Mr Ibbotson is someone who has a done a lot for Joe and his cricket club in Sheffield.

11:14 AM BST

OVER 39: AUS 136/0 (Warner 59 Khawaja 69)

Broad is straight around the wicket to Warner, with three slips in place. Warner survives an LBW appeal after walking down and across. It didn’t look right, although Broad was keen to review; of course he was. Kumar Dharmasena gave Warner a run so presumably there was bat involved.

A good start from Broad, whose first over ends with Khawaja playing and missing at a beautiful outswinger. That’s encouraging for England.

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad walks onto the Oval field for his final day as a professional cricketer. – Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

11:09 AM BST

Revised session times

11.10 – 13.25 Morning session

13.25- 14.05 Lunch

14.05 – 16.20 Afternoon session

16.20 – 16.40 Tea

16.40- 18.40 Evening session

98 overs for the day

Last hour will start at 17.40 or 83 overs whichever is later provided there is no further rain.

11:08 AM BST

Broad to open the bowling

Here come the players. England need 10 wickets; Australia need 249 runs. Stuart Broad, on his final day as a professional cricketer, will open the bowling to you know who.

Ricky Ponting and Stuart Broad

Ricky Ponting talks to Stuart Broad before play on day five. – Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

11:02 AM BST

Play to start at 11.10am

That shower has blown through and the players will soon on the field. Time to read the last chapter of this glorious Ashes story.

As Mark Butcher says on Sky, the wet outfield means England have no chance of getting any reverse swing. It won’t help the spinners either.

Stuart Broad hugs England's assistant coach David Saker

Stuart Broad hugs England’s assistant coach David Saker. – Mike Egerton/PA

10:54 AM BST

Start delayed

And with that… a squally shower blow through. Not ideal. Covers half on, will be a small delay. England’s warm up continuing.

10:50 AM BST

Stokes to bowl on final day?

Ben Stokes is bowling seam in the warm-up again. What odds on a 15-over spell of 2-30 with a permanent grimace on his face?!

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes bowls during the warm-up. – Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

10:41 AM BST

Ideal conditions for England’s seamers

No need for anything fancy this morning, no need for Bazball, just old fashioned English seam-up. Ideal overheads = thick cloud. Just pitch the first and second ball up, get them driving and three slips, with the occasional bouncer from Mark Wood.

10:38 AM BST

Floodlights on at the Oval

There’s a nervy energy around the Oval this morning, where it is much quieter than it was yesterday, but we are expecting a sellout crowd. There has been some rain in south London this morning, but it’s dry at the moment. I expect we will start on time, with the floodlights on.

England warm up

England warm up ahead of the final day of the series. – Mike Egerton/PA

10:36 AM BST

There are few fairytale endings in elite sport

I am fascinated by what’s going to happen today. Rarely to sports people retire, or finish, with a Cinderella, fairytale ending. That is why so many hold a grudge in one way or another. So many leave the game dropped or injured; the perfect end is rare.

This in mind, so many players have so much to play for today. Stuart Broad had announced his retirement formally. A number of others are unlikely to play an Ashes Test again. Despite yesterday’s performance, everything still has to go right for Australia today. History tells us that.

That said, I predicted at the start of the series that Nathan Lyon would be a key, because England lack a world-class spinner. I wonder if that will be a telling outcome today.

I also believed the team that stayed the healthiest would win the Ashes.  England’s bowlers must be weary. Time will tell if they can find something special today.

This is a fitting end to a brilliant Ashes series. I can’t wait to watch every ball.

10:34 AM BST

James Anderson talks to Sky Sports

It was a tough day. The pitch didn’t really deteriorate – there was a bit of spin but we didn’t get any sideways movement which always makes it difficult. We’re still in with a sniff today. One last push, hopefully the rain stays away and we can give it a red-hot go.

We’ll need to set some interesting fields today and play around with the pace of the ball; try everything we can do get a breakthrough. Hopefully today we’ll get a bit more out of the wicket. It’ll be tough [to get reverse-swing] because of the outfield. We might get some conventional swing for a bit.

We don’t want to bowl Mark Wood in the ground. He should be fresh today so hopefully he can make an impact. Mo seems okay to bowl; the hardest thing for him is in the field when he has to turn and things like that. Hopefully he can bowl a bit more today.

I was a little shocked when [Stuart Broad] told me. I respect his decision, he seems very clear, and yesterday morning was really special: walking out with him, watching him hit his last ball in Test cricket for six! The crowd were amazing. I felt really lucky to be out there and experience it.

We both said last night when we saw that image (below) that if we put one photo up in our house of our careers, it’ll probably be that one. We’ve loved playing together. Neither of us could have achieved what we did without each other. It’s been incredibly special. I’ll miss him.

I’m even more certain now that I want to carry on. I’ve had a really disappointing series by my standards – I don’t think I’ve bowled particularly badly but I haven’t taken the wickets that I expect. My body’s fine, my skills are fine, I think I’m bowling well enough. With the break that we’ve got after this series, I want to go away and keep working on stuff and get back to where I know I can be. Having that hunger and desire to that tells me I want to keep on going.

Stuart Broad and James Anderson

Stuart Broad and James Anderson walk out of the Oval. – Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

10:22 AM BST

Don’t worry – Stuart Broad is going nowhere

This is a great piece from Alan Tyers on English cricket’s next great pundit.

Broad also carried out his televisual duties in a splendidly eccentric series of outfits, one a corduroy suit, the other a busy burgundy blazer, and, above all, the one where he paired tortoiseshell owl glasses with a grandad collar shirt, giving him the look of a young clergyman whose repressed passions rend asunder with scandal a sleepy Edwardian parsonage.

Read more…

Stuart Broad

Stuart Broad in the Sky Sports studio. – Sky Sports/Screengrab

10:15 AM BST

Why Australia will fancy their chances

In the history of Test cricket, only 76 sides have successfully chased scores over 250. Fourteen of these have been since the start of 2019. Eight have been since June 2022 – with six of these in England, including five victories for Stokes’s side.

Read more…

10:05 AM BST

Broad superior to Anderson when the Ashes comes around

Who, if odious comparisons have to be made, is better: Anderson or Broad? Anderson would have to be chosen for most Tests abroad, as he has eventually conquered every frontier, and maybe for most matches in England too. But for a Test against Australia, home or away, it has to be Broad, as he has never been subdued by the oldest enemy: even when he was booed by the whole of Brisbane, Broad took a five-fer.

Read more…

James Anderson and Stuart Broad

James Anderson and Stuart Broad talk tactics on day four. – Gareth Copley/Getty Images Europe

10:02 AM BST

Ashes free bets

Having a bet on the final Test? Find the best Ashes free bets to use on the final day of the series.

09:56 AM BST

Boycott’s Briefing: No magic formula on flat pitches — but field like demons

Sir Geoffrey Boycott says England will have to take every catch and save every run possible if they are to beat Australia today.

09:31 AM BST

Ready for one last dance?

Hello and welcome to live coverage of the final day of an epic Ashes series. It’s probably appropriate, given the exquisitely turbulent nature of the series, that the final day will begin with a mood of uncertainty. Nobody is quite sure who the favourites are, or which weather app we should trust.

What we do know is that all four results are possible. Australia will resume on 135/0, needing another 249 runs for the most glorious victory. Only once in their history, at Headingley in 1948, have they successfully chased a target as big as this. It’s their stated ambition to win a series in England for the first time since 2001, and scoring almost 400 in the fourth innings would be a helluva way to achieve it.

The forecast looks okay, at least on my Met Office app, with only a slight chance of rain. The pitch did very little for the seamers before a biblical downpour forced play to be abandoned on Sunday, though the ball was changed just before the interruption and the new one seemed to have a bit more zing. Ben Stokes deployed some funky fields, including the Brumbrella that we last saw in the first Test at Edgbaston. Expect to see more of those today, and possibly a long bowl from Stokes as well.

That classic Edgbaston Test finished six weeks ago tomorrow. So much has happened since the start of the series, when Zak Crawley belted Pat Cummins’ first ball for four, that it’s hard to believe it has been squashed into such a short period of time. At the end of the series, the players on both sides – certainly the fast bowlers – will sleep for a week.

There are umpteen scripts on the table today, from a career-saving century from David Warner to one last matchwinning rampage by Stuart Broad. It feels like 2-2 would be the fairest result in this series. But Australia don’t care about whether life is fair, nor does whoever controls the English summer weather. England will have to work hard to get their just deserts.

The Oval scoreboard on a soggy Sunday evening

The Oval scoreboard on a soggy Sunday evening. – Mike Egerton/PA

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