Stuart Broad provides fitting finale to Ashes series for the ages

An Ashes series for the ages received a fitting finale with Stuart Broad at the heart of the action on day five of the final Test at the Kia Oval.

Broad was able to write his own script with the last act of his glittering career, finding the edge of Alex Carey’s bat to hand England victory by 49 runs and earn a deserved share of the series at 2-2.

The final wicket of an enthralling Ashes fell at 6.25pm on the designated last day with Broad able to provide a Hollywood finish after he announced his intention to retire after the series on Saturday night.

Since ball one at Edgbaston on June 16, the series has ebbed and flowed with Australia drawing first blood in Birmingham and striking what could have been a killer blow at Lord’s via Carey’s controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow.

Ben Stokes’ men fought back in another Headingley thriller and while rain ruined the fourth Test in Manchester to end the prospect of a winner-takes-all decider, there was still theatre of the highest order in south London.

England’s day one 283 was marginally bettered by 295 from Australia and despite an eventual target of 384 looking a tall order for the Baggy Greens, the tourists made it to 264 for three before Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali got on a roll to set up a grandstand finish for Broad.

View from the dressing room

Stokes conceded even he felt a sense of inevitability when he threw the ball to Broad with Australia eight down and the dismissals of Todd Murphy and then Carey followed in quick succession to end the veteran’s career in style.

Mo opens the door

When Travis Head joined forces with Steve Smith before lunch, the duo would not have expected to still be out in the middle four hours later. While rain had a part in that, the pair were ticking along nicely when Moeen got the door ajar.

Moeen, in what would prove his final Test appearance, was able to throw the ball up and watch it spin out of the rough with Head edging behind on the drive to Joe Root to leave Australia on 264 for four.

It sparked a pivotal spell of four wickets in 18 deliveries that put England in the driving seat for a series-levelling success.

Woakes wows again

After Australia reached the close on day four on 135 without loss, England knew a strong start was essential and Woakes provided it with David Warner and Usman Khawaja gone in quick succession.

Woakes’ role was not over with Smith and Head dampening spirits along with the wet weather in the capital until the Warwickshire warhorses combined for a scintillating and series-defining spell.

Two of the four wickets in three overs went to Woakes, including the key dismissal of Smith for 54 and it helped the 33-year-old finish the series with 19 scalps in total despite only playing three Tests.

After he helped England get over the line at both Headingley and Kia Oval, Woakes deserved all the plaudits he received on Monday.

Broad’s Ashes

Broad could easily have been thinking about what might have been when 24 hours after his retirement announcement Australia had batted for 38 overs without losing a wicket.

Monday’s morning session saw further plays and misses. Head was tied up in knots by Broad before lunch but wicket number 603 stayed on ice.

Broad returned for one last spell and after another switch of the bails – at the non-striker’s end – saw off Murphy and pitched another up for Carey to edge behind to bring the curtain down on a stellar career in spectacular fashion.

One more wicket to the tally

England v Australia – LV= Insurance Ashes Series 2023 – Fifth Test – Day Five – The Kia Oval

Stuart Broad celebrates taking the wicket of Australia’s Alex Carey with James Anderson (John Walton/PA)

Broad wheeled off in celebration after Bairstow claimed Carey’s edge and in a wonderful moment of fate it was new ball partner James Anderson who was the closest fielder to him.

The experienced seam duo shared a touching embrace after claiming 1,039 wickets between them during the 15 years they have shared the Test stage.

If Broad had written the script, it could not have finished any better. The Ashes are over for another two and a half years but this series will be talked about for a lifetime.

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