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Day four of fifth Ashes Test: Stuart Broad aims to go out on a high note

England great Stuart Broad could bring the curtain down on a stellar Test career on day four of the final Ashes Test at the Kia Oval.

Broad made the shock announcement regarding his decision to retire following this series at the close of a productive third day where England made 389 for nine, an overall lead of 377.

If Ben Stokes does not spring another declaration, Broad will walk out in a batting capacity for one last time at the Kia Oval alongside James Anderson, the other half of the memorable bowling duo, on Sunday.

No matter how long England’s second innings does last, Broad’s main task of the day will be to terrorise Australia for one final occasion with plenty on the line in south London.

View from the dressing room

I feel really great and even better that we’ve had a brilliant day today… we’ve put ourselves in a position that I wished we could be in to try and chase ten wickets for an Ashes Test match win.

Stuart Broad on retiring

Broad confirmed his retirement plans in a post-play interview with Sky Sports after England had smashed 389 in 80 overs. He made up his mind at 8.30pm on Friday and told captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum later that evening before he revealed the news to the rest of the team on Saturday morning.

Creepy crunches through cover again!

Before Broad’s retirement had been made public, all eyes were on how England would fare following nip-and-tuck first and second days where Australia manufactured a 12-run lead after both teams had their first go with the bat.

Zak Crawley set the tone with another first-ball special, crunching a wide Mitchell Starc delivery through cover for four to begin his final innings of the series in the same vein he started this Ashes at Edgbaston, where he smashed the opening ball in Birmingham past cover to the boundary off Pat Cummins.

Crawley and Ben Duckett shared a fifty stand for the first wicket with the Kent opener eventually falling for 73, enough to put him back on top of the run-scoring charts with an overall total of 480 runs, with nearest challenger Usman Khawaja the only player realistically able to knock him off first spot with 57 runs required to do so on Sunday.

Another ravenous Root ramp

After Crawley’s dismissal, Joe Root joined Stokes at the crease with the England captain in the unorthodox position of number three due to Moeen Ali’s time spent off the field on Friday.

Root initially struggled, wearing a delivery on the body and surviving a narrow lbw call against Josh Hazlewood, but the introduction of Mitch Marsh was greeted with a ramp shot for six and the former skipper never looked back.

Anything short was treated with disdain while Root milked the field for singles and twos before a flurry of boundaries off Starc took him into the nineties, but he could not bookend this Ashes with centuries after a Todd Murphy delivery kept low to bowl him for 91. Nevertheless, he walked off after a 60th Test half-century with England’s lead already beyond the 300-mark.

Here’s one for Jonny

It is no secret that Jonny Bairstow has endured a difficult series with the gloves, but he again highlighted the upside of his inclusion in the England XI with a sparkling 78 on day three.

Bairstow walked out with England on 222 for four and only a batting collapse away from throwing away a position of strength in their efforts to level the series at 2-2.

The response from Bairstow was to counter-punch, striking 34 runs off 35 balls before tea and upping the ante in the evening session until he edged behind to Alex Carey. His third fifty of the series brought his own tally of runs up to 322, the third most by an English wicketkeeper in an Ashes behind Alan Knott and Alec Stewart, who made 364 and 378 runs respectively in the 1974-75 and 1993 series which both contained six Test matches.

One Last Dance?

Spectators at the Kia Oval were none the wiser about Broad’s retirement intentions when last-man Anderson walked out to join his friend at the crease but it represented a special moment with the pair together with bats in hand for potentially the last time.

Applause greeted the arrival of Anderson, despite announcing before this match his desire to continue playing Test cricket, and he delighted the sell-out crowd with back-to-back boundaries against Murphy. He then successfully reviewed a lbw decision that was given out.

Broad and Anderson may get given another opportunity to bat on Sunday but if Stokes does decide to declare, that is the perfect way for Broad to bring his batting career in Test cricket to its conclusion.

The end of an era

  • 167 appearances
  • 602 wickets
  • 3,656 runs
  • 20 five-wicket hauls
  • One century
  • 151 Ashes wickets

There have been many times where Broad has written his own script and you would not bet against him doing the same on day four, especially with the threat of rain on Sunday and Monday.

Broad will be desperate to bowl England to a series-levelling victory and even though he has enjoyed an outstanding Ashes with 20 wickets at an average of 28.15, four more scalps will ensure he finishes top of the wicket-takers charts.

It will be a target for the seamer, who may not be the only Englishman to hang up the boots in Test cricket during the next two days with Moeen expected to go back into red-ball retirement. If he can bowl after Thursday’s groin twinge, it would be a major boost for the hosts.

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