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Root salutes England after drawing the Ashes series

Gotcha: England’s Joe Root celebrates taking the wicket of Australia’s Matthew Wade
Gotcha: England’s Joe Root celebrates taking the wicket of Australia’s Matthew Wade

By Rory Dollard

England skipper Joe Root was a happy man after seeing his side draw the Ashes series 2-2 following a 135-run win at The Oval.

Four wickets each from Stuart Broad and Jack Leach helped to wrap up victory as Australia, who had already retained the urn, were bowled out for 263 in their second innings with Jofra Archer's six for 62 in the first having laid the foundation.

Root said: "We were excellent this week. Having lost the toss, to play as we did was fantastic.

"We drove the game all the time and got there in the end.

"Jofra makes things happen, and he's backed up with other skilful bowlers. Collectively we've shown a lot of character throughout the whole series.

"We were not always at our best, but we've fought really hard. Credit to Tim (Paine) and his team."

England's man of the series Ben Stokes admitted his disappointment at not being able to win back the Ashes, but said he and his team-mates were able to take some comfort from drawing the series.

Stokes said: "Obviously it was disappointing in Manchester for us to know that we couldn't get the Ashes back.

"But we turned up here this week knowing that we still had a huge amount of pride and the Test Championship to play for, and we managed to draw the series, which was the goal at the end of this game."

Man of the series Steve Smith saluted Australia's retention of the urn at the end of a "spectacular" contest after seeing Matthew Wade sign off with a century.

Smith said: "It's been an amazing couple of months in England. The cricket's been spectacular. The series has ebbed and flowed.

"I've loved every minute and am proud to have been able to perform for Australia and bring the urn home. The middle of the wicket still played pretty well, and Wade applied himself.

"He batted beautifully today. But England played terrific cricket."

Australia captain Tim Paine was disappointed to have lost the fifth Test, but proud of his side's performances over the series.

Asked if he had any regrets, Paine said: "Regrets? I've got a couple - to start with, the toss. We didn't take our chances on day one, we didn't back up our bowlers.

"England got ahead of the game. I can't read a pitch so I'm always 50-50. We've got to bat and bowl better than we did in this Test match.

"No doubt today puts a dampener on it but from where this group's come from, to retain the Ashes is still a big deal."

The result sent England's outgoing coach Trevor Bayliss out on a high after more than four years at the helm and denied Paine the bragging rights of becoming the first Australia skipper since 2001 to oversee an outright win away from home.

Smith was expected to be the main obstacle to a home success on day four and as long as he was active, anything was possible. For once he betrayed his mortality, suckered into a well-laid trap to finish with a gargantuan series tally of 774 runs scored, 1,196 balls faced and an average of 110.57. It fell to the team's sledger-in-chief, Wade, to carry the fight and he fought through a fiery and ill-tempered tussle with Archer to make a fine hundred.

He was eighth man out deep in the evening session when England skipper Root had him stumped, his second wicket in a useful cameo with the ball.

Root was also involved at the death, holding both catches as Leach picked off Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood, and so ended a famous summer for cricket in England taking in a historic World Cup win at Lord's and a compelling Ashes contest.

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