England have avoided an Ashes whitewash after surviving a late onslaught from Australia’s bowling attack to draw the fourth Test in Sydney with one wicket to spare. Australia remain 3-0 in the series, with the final Test due to start in Hobart on 14 January.
Veteran tailenders Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson saw England to safety, following the dismissal of Jack Leach with two overs to spare and Jonny Bairstow, who was gone for 41 from 105 balls when he popped a catch to silly mid-off off the irrepressible Scott Boland.
The day had earlier been falling flat for Australia, with the pitch playing no real tricks and the attack looking increasingly weary. Zak Crawley made a dashing 77 at the top of the order to put a spring in the tourists’ step, but Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan also fell cheaply before lunch.
England captain Joe Root (24) was the only man to go in the afternoon session – passing the rescue mission on to Ben Stokes, who was in visible discomfort due to a side strain, and Bairstow, who has a suspected fracture in his right thumb.
Nathan Lyon landed the prize scalp of Stokes in the 75th over, with the Englishman poking at the ball outside off stump and prodded a catch to Steve Smith at slip. He was on his way for 60 in 123 balls, leaving 27.2 overs remaining at 193 for five.
With less than 18 overs left England looked well placed at 218 for five, but Australia captain Cummins took the new ball and pinned both Jos Buttler and Mark Wood lbw in the space of three balls. Buttler was hit on the back pad and was condemned by a wise DRS referral, before Wood was sent tumbling to the floor by a hooping yorker that crushed his front foot.
Leach and Broad shared the load of blunting the Australian attack’s closing efforts, with Broad seeing away his usual barrage of short deliveries, and Leach particularly impressive in defence.
Bad light meant Australia were not allowed to bowl their quicks but part-time spinner Smith dismissed Leach with two overs to go. Things looked ominous for the tourists but Anderson and Broad were heroic and resolute in seeing England to safety in a dramatic finish at the SCG.
More to follow …