Australia retained the Ashes after Day 5 of the fourth Test in Manchester on Sunday, July 23 ended in a draw as no play was possible due to persistent rain. A lot of play was lost on Day 4 as well due to weather although the Aussies did a commendable job under pressure, with Marnus Labuschagne turning around his poor Ashes campaign with a much-needed hundred.
The forecast for Day 5 was not great and unfortunately for England that turned out to be true as the weather denied them a chance of pushing for victory. Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Stokes admitted, “It's a tough one to take, you know [a draw]. The kind of cricket we played on the first three days and to be on the wrong side of the weather, it's a tough one. But it's a part of the journey. I think coming into this game, it was a do or die game for us. Bowling them out for 320 and scoring 590, we couldn't do much.”
Looking ahead to the final Test of the series, Stokes said that they will play for pride. He also went onto praise Player of the Match Zak Crawley for a fabulous knock. The England all-rounder commented, “We'll have a lot of pride to play the next game. The injury to Pope made us think about the structure of the team. Very pleased with everyone's effort. I have been vocal about Crawley, what Zak does is he changes the game, the way he plays and the way he takes the bowlers on. That was an incredible innings, we knew an innings like that was not far away.”
After Chris Woakes’ maiden Ashes five-for held Australia to 317 in their first innings, England responded with 592 as Crawley struck a magnificent 189 off 182 balls. Joe Root (84 off 95) and Jonny Bairstow (99 not out off 81) also made significant contributions.
The 32-year-old also had words of praise for his senior pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who are possibly playing in their last Ashes. Stokes hailed them and said, “It's amazing (their record). Broad and Jimmy have been unbelievable examples. Broad loves the battle and he loves playing against Australia, he has a good record against them.”
When asked if he had any regrets about declaring early at Edgbaston, Stokes replied ‘No’ and concluded, “We know what the last game means to us as a team and we want to finish off on a high. Want the crowd to come out and support us.”
The fifth and final Ashes 2023 Test will be played at the Kennington Oval in London from July 27 to 31.
--By A Cricket Correspondent