England's dreams of retaining the Ashes were shattered as Australia took an unassailable 2-1 lead in the ongoing tournament. The baggy greens won the fourth test match at Old Trafford by 185 runs after bowling out the English brigade for 197 on the fifth day of play.
Aussie pacer Pat Cummins ended up as the leading wicket-taker for the Australians in the second innings as he finished with 4/43. Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood and spinner Nathan Lyon picked up two wickets each, while left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc and part-timer Marnus Labuschagne shared a wicket each.
For England, the intent was missing in their game, as none of the batsmen except opener Joe Denly could score even a half-century. Skipper Joe Root was clean bowled by Cummins for a golden duck. The hero of the Headingley Test, Ben Stokes, soon followed suit on an individual score of 1. With him, the hopes of a British revival were also dismissed. The tail-enders had little to do, especially when the team was chasing a mammoth 383-run target and the top order collapsed like a house of cards.
Multiple reasons could be posed as legitimate factors behind England's defeat. The first one is certainly Steve Smith's incredible double century that allowed the Aussies to take complete control of the game right from the first day of the match. Even in the second innings, he almost scored another brilliant hundred. However, he had to stop at 82 since he was selflessly trying to speed up the run rate and that eventually cost him his wicket.
England won the only match in this year's Ashes in Smith's absence. The World champions seem to have no answers to the former Australian captain's form of a lifetime.
James Anderson's injury also played a massive role in determining the fate of the ongoing Ashes. As BBC reports, the results of the series could have been different, given that the English swing legend was present in the dressing room throughout the tournament. Without Anderson taking control of the new ball, England's fast bowling unit proved to be far from lethal. Jofra Archer is always trying to perform at his best, but overusing him is not a viable option for the England skipper.
England will again lock horns with the Kangaroos at the Oval on 12th September for the fifth and final test in this year's Ashes. Aussies would look forward to clinching the series by either drawing or winning the match, while England would eye for a win to end the series on a satisfactory note. Even if the home team destroys the Australians in the final test, their chances of reclaiming the Ashes are nil.