Dream finish for Stuart Broad as England seal memorable win to draw Ashes series

Stuart Broad got the dream finish he wanted as England signed off a memorable Ashes summer in style, flooring Australia in an intoxicating finale at the Kia Oval to square the series 2-2.

Broad took the last two wickets to fall as he headed into retirement in triumph in a 49-run win, the stage having been set by the outstanding efforts of Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali.

A rain-ruined draw at Old Trafford had already ensured the urn would be heading Down Under with the holders, but England have been an irresistible force at times and anything less than a share of the spoils would have been an injustice.

They took all 10 Australian wickets on the final day of the final Test, rallying to the cause despite losing the entire afternoon to more bad weather.

Woakes was impeccable – taking four for 50 – and Moeen bagged three vital scalps to as the tourists were rolled over for 334.

But Broad has never been one to shy away from the limelight and there was a satisfying sense of closure as he applied the finishing touches.

He left Australia nine down when he dismissed tailender Todd Murphy with the very next ball after reprising his bail-swapping superstition and nobody in the ground was in any doubt that it would be the departing 37-year-old who would end things.

England’s ultimate Ashes warrior had bowled beautifully without luck all day but found fortune in his favour exactly when he wanted it, snaring Alex Carey’s outside edge at 6.25pm.

Stuart Broad acknowledges the crowd as he walks off the pitch for the last time

Stuart Broad took the last two wickets to fall as he headed in retirement in triumph in a 49-run win (Mike Egerton/PA)

The sun had not yet set in south London, but it has on Broad’s career, in the best way possible.

Australia had dreamed of winning on English soil for the first time in 22 years but, just as they did four years ago, they fell at the last hurdle.

Things were impossibly tight after a rollercoaster morning, with Australia 238 for three after a see-saw session. Australia had put on a chanceless opening stand of 135 on Sunday, but Woakes sparked things into life as he took out the well-set David Warner (60) and Usman Khawaja (72) in his first three overs.

Moving the ball nicely through the air and off the pitch he grabbed Warner’s outside edge in his final Ashes innings and pinning the series top-scorer Khawaja in front of leg to end his long occupation.

When Wood had Marnus Labuschagne caught by the safe hands of Zak Crawley at second slip, Australia looked rattled but the pendulum swung again as Steve Smith and Travis Head made their way to tea at 238 for three.

Ben Stokes, of all people, looked to have robbed England of their shot when he caught Smith at leg-slip in Moeen’s last over of the session, only to lose control as his arm came down.

He reviewed the not-out decision but had clearly lost control of the ball and, on another day, it may have been the pivotal point of the match.

Rain then wiped out the afternoon’s play, leaving Stokes to stew, before the skies relented and left both sides a clear path.

Australia were 146 runs away from landing a first away Ashes win in a generation and England needed seven wickets to salvage their just deserts.

It was the home side of who found their killer instinct with the game on the line. Moeen was the first to break cover, twirling away on a pitch that was starting to bite and kick up puffs of dust.

Stuart Broad celebrates taking the wicket of Australia's Todd Murphy

Stuart Broad celebrated taking the wicket of Australia’s Todd Murphy (John Walton/PA)

Settling into a steady groove of drift and turn, he used both to take Head’s edge and leave a gentle slip catch for Joe Root. A damaging stand of 95 was finally broken and England knew it was now or never.

Woakes made sure it was now. Charging in from the Pavilion End he reeled in the prized scalp of Smith, prodding a nagging ball that shaped to take the top of off stump then jagged away at the last minute.

Crawley tumbled into the catch and the crowd exploded. After a long and rainy wait for action, they were now in the midst of a thriller.

Australia seemed to be caught up in the moment too, coughing up their next two batters in obliging fashion.

Stuart Broad celebrates taking the wicket of Australia's Alex Carey

Stuart Broad celebrated taking the wicket of Australia’s Alex Carey (John Walton/PA)

Mitch Marsh was caught in Moeen’s web, with Jonny Bairstow getting in on the act by throwing himself horizontally to grab a bat-pad chance with his outstretched right glove.

And by the time Mitchell Starc departed for a duck, muddled enough by the speed of events to hack Woakes to second slip, the England rally had turned into a rampage. Nineteen balls, 11 runs and four wickets.

There were 99 needed when Cummins emerged, the hero of Australia’s nervy chase in the first Test now facing an even stiffer challenge. This time, he the leading man of Edgbaston had to settle for a walk-on part.

With nine to his name he got over-excited when Moeen dropped a fraction short, swiping hard and dragging an inside edge into his thigh. The ball looped into the leg-side and Stokes made sure not to repeat his earlier error.

Neither side has ever had things their own way for too long in this series, though, and there was one last trial for English nerves as Carey and Murphy shut them down for almost 10 overs.

The runs trickled through, 35 of them in 58 balls, with Broad now back into attack and beating the outside edge with infuriating regularity.

When a near-perfect ball to Murphy beat the bat by a centimetre or two, he finally decided he needed superstition as well as skill and switched the bails at the non-striker’s end.

A similar ploy brought him the wicket of Labuschagne earlier on day two and, ridiculously, paid off again as Murphy finally got a tickle on the latest snaking delivery in the channel around off stump.

Carey succumbed to a similar fate, leaving Broad to soak up the acclaim as he carried his country to one final win.

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