'Oh my God': Cricket world in disbelief over 'insane' Ashes drama

Pat Cummins, pictured here with a helmet fielding in close for the final few overs.
Pat Cummins donned a helmet and fielded in close for the final few overs. Image: Channel 7/Getty

Cricket fans and commentators were left in awe on Sunday evening as England held on for a thrilling draw in extraordinary scenes in the fourth Ashes Test.

England finished on 9-270 on Sunday after surviving 102 overs, with No.11 Jimmy Anderson navigating an over of Steve Smith's leg-spin in fading light before the nail-biting contest ended at 6.50pm AEDT.

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Smith had delivered the wicket of Jack Leach after being called into the attack with three overs remaining when Pat Cummins agreed with umpires that the light was too poor for anything but spin.

But Stuart Broad negotiated Nathan Lyon's final over before Anderson denied Smith's hopes of a fairytale SCG finish to rival Michael Clarke's magic in 2008.

In extraordinary scenes, Australia had every fielder close in around the England batters in the final few overs, with Cummins even donning a helmet and fielding at silly point.

Incredible photos of Australia's umbrella field lit up social media, with fans and commentators in a frenzy over the beauty of Test match cricket.

“We have the audacity to talk about such things as dead rubbers in Test cricket. There is no such thing,” Ricky Ponting said in commentary for Channel 7.

“Congratulations to England for hanging on. They’ve actually played really well the last part of today.

“Stuart Broad can certainly hold his head high after what he’s done here. 35 balls he’s got through.”

Pat Cummins learns harsh lesson about Test cricket

The result ends Cummins' hopes of captaining what would have been just the fourth 5-0 Ashes sweep in the storied 145-year history of Test cricket.

Australia, who retained the urn with crushing wins in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne, will rue costly dropped catches, some 60 overs of play lost to rain, and other factors that helped England escape after Usman Khawaja's twin centuries.

Mark Waugh was among several pundits to question the timing of Cummins' declaration late on Day 4 as England secured just the 24th Test draw from nine wickets down.

"I don't think we needed to hand it to them on a platter, but for sure we were willing to risk England winning," Cummins said.

"Around three and a half runs per over was similar to ... the game was ticking along around about that rate.

Stuart Broad, pictured here shaking hands with Aussie players after the fourth Ashes Test ended in a draw.
Stuart Broad shakes hands with Aussie players after the fourth Ashes Test ended in a draw. (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

"I thought 100-110 overs at that rate, still gave them a little bit of a cherry if a couple of batters got in.

"The wicket was still not playing too many tricks. I thought if they batted really well, 350 is pretty achievable. I wanted to give us enough time."

Cummins took matters into his own hands with the second new ball, generating incredible swing to blast Jos Buttler and Mark Wood out in the space of three deliveries.

The skipper even donned a helmet as Australia crowded the bat in Lyon's final few overs, knowing his every move, bowling change and rejigged field would be heavily scrutinised.

"I certainly learned a lot ... made quite a few calls - some came off, some didn't," Cummins said.

"Even from the second innings compared to the first, I felt a lot calmer and in control ... take that extra second, that breath at the top of the mark.

"Probably the hardest thing to do is to try and choose among our five bowlers, plus Smithy and Marnus (Labuschagne)."

with AAP

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