Australia's 22-year wait goes on after 'horrible' scenes in fifth Ashes Test

The Ashes finished in a 2-2 draw as Australia missed a massive opportunity to win their first series in England since 2001.

Pat Cummins, Travis Head and Steve Smith in the fifth Ashes Test.
Australia lost the fifth Ashes Test after a woeful batting collapse on day five at The Oval. Image: Getty

Australia has let slip a golden opportunity to win their first Ashes series in England since 2001 after a horror batting collapse late on day five of the fifth Test. Chasing a record total of 384 to win at The Oval, the Aussies resumed the final day's play at 0-135.

Despite losing the key wickets of David Warner (60), Usman Khawaja (72) and Marnus Labuschagne (13) in the first session, the tourists had a huge sniff of making history as Steve Smith and Travis Head guided their side to 3-264 - leaving 120 to win with seven wickets in hand. But the final session proved to be a nightmare for Australia as they lost 4-11 in the space of 19 balls as the match was turned on its head.

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A late partnership between Alex Carey (28) and Todd Murphy (18) got the Aussies within a glimmer of hope, but the tourists lost their final seven wickets for 70 runs and were bowled out for 334. A win at The Oval would have represented the highest successful run chase in the ground's history, and would have given Australia their first series win on English soil in 22 years.

But England's victory meant the series finished in a 2-2 draw, and Australia's wait for an Ashes triumph in the UK will stretch to 26 years by the time the next series is played in England. Attempting to pull off the biggest fourth-innings chase at The Oval ever (and the second biggest in Australia's Test history), the tourists were always fighting an uphill battle.

With Smith (54) and Head (43) at the crease they looked to be a huge chance, but disaster struck when Head was caught at slip trying to cover-drive a big-turning ball from Moeen Ali. Smith followed in the next over when he edged Woakes to slip, before Mitch Marsh was caught behind off Moeen by a brilliant one-handed catch from Jonny Bairstow.

When Mitchell Starc edged Woakes to Zak Crawley in the following over, Australia had lost four wickets in 19 balls to see their hopes of series victory fall in a heap. Pat Cummins was caught soon after trying to pull Moeen, before Murphy helped Carey get the required runs down to 55.

Pat Cummins walks off after his dismissal in the fifth Ashes Test.
England players celebrate after dismissing Pat Cummins in the fifth Ashes Test. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images) (John Walton - PA Images via Getty Images)

Murphy was eventually caught behind for 18 off Stuart Broad, who then claimed the match-winning wicket in the final Test of his career when Carey edged behind to Bairstow. Woakes finished with 4-50 and Moeen 3-76, sparking wild celebrations from the English crowd even though the Ashes urn will stay in Australia for the fourth-consecutive series.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the series after the first two matches, the Aussies were largely outplayed by a much-improved England outfit. Australia had been desperate to win their first series in England in over two decades, but will have to settle for the second-straight 2-2 draw on English soil.

"It was the rhythm of the series, just when you felt you had a sniff the opposition jumped in," Aussie captain Cummins said. "Wonderful series and a wonderful Test, it was just a shame we couldn't finish it off."

Ben Stokes and Pat Cummins.
Ben Stokes and Pat Cummins pose with the trophy after a 2-2 draw in the Ashes series. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Cricket fans in disbelief over 'horrible' Aussie collapse

The final day's play was full of controversy and drama, with umpires handing England what looked to be a brand-new ball after just 36 overs. England had asked for the out-of-shape ball to be changed, but the new one appeared to be much newer than a like-for-like replacement.

England captain Ben Stokes also drew the ire of Aussie fans when he opted for a review when he'd clearly dropped a chance to dismiss Smith. The ball flew out of Stokes' hand as he was celebrating, and even though he knew it wasn't a legal catch he still asked the umpires to review it.

In the end it mattered little, with Australia's nightmare collapse leaving fans with a sour taste in their mouths after such a pulsating series.

with AAP

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