Ponting hails 'relentless' bowlers as Australia retain Ashes

Ben Stokes walked off after snicking Cummins behind on one

Ben Stokes walked off after snicking Cummins behind on one

Tim Paine's Australia side defeated England by 185 runs in the fourth Test at Old Trafford to retain the Ashes after a Steve Smith masterclass.

"Well done Australia and @stevesmith49 for retaining the ashes". Having an unassailable 2-1 lead, Australia will now look to seal Ashes 2019 when they take on England in the final match of the series from Thursday at the Oval.

The all-rounder bowled just 10.5 overs in Australia's first innings at Old Trafford before being forced off the field with right shoulder soreness and did not bowl for the remainder of the Test. He was demoted down the order in the fourth test to avoid facing the new ball but was castled in both innings for 22 and 31 respectively.

Playing a World Cup - which England won - and an Ashes in the same season with just a short gap between the two may have made commercial sense to English cricket chiefs but it left several of their senior batsmen with precious little time to get acclimatised to the very different demands of Test cricket. Smith has so far amassed 617 runs in three Tests of the five-match series.

Although England have already missed out on regaining the urn, they can still take pride out of attempting to avoid a series defeat. "His last three dismissals have all been exactly the same. Ben Stokes can bat at number four if needs be".

Joe Denly top-scored for England with 53
Joe Denly top-scored for England with 53

That would mean a bowling allrounder in Sam Curran or Chris Woakes coming in for a batsman, determined by head coach Trevor Bayliss and the captain, Joe Root.

"I have come back fresh from a year out, but relaxed and chilled out".

"I don't know where it's going to stop but we are enjoying being along for the ride with him, that is for sure".

England squad for fifth Test: Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.

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