Mon, Aug 26, 2013 - Page 20 News List

England avoid follow-on, draw looms in fifth Test


England’s Matt Prior, right, bats during the final day of the fifth Ashes Test between England and Australia at the Oval in London yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Ian Bell helped England avoid the follow-on as the fifth Ashes Test headed towards a draw on yesterday’s final day at The Oval.

At lunch, England were 350-7 in reply to Australia’s first innings 492-9 declared — a deficit of 142 runs.

Matt Prior was 35 not out, his best score of the series, and Graeme Swann 24 not out, with England having already won the five-match Ashes series.

England, who had scored at barely two an over on Friday — Saturday’s fourth day was washed out completely — struck 103 runs at nearly five an over in yesterday’s first session.

Earlier Bell, England’s leading batsman of the series, had made 45 to frustrate Australia’s hopes of a first win in nine Tests and of avoiding a first Ashes without a victory since they lost 3-0 in England in 1977.

Australia’s hopes of achieving that consolation success were already slim after Saturday’s washout.

England resumed on 247-4, needing 46 more runs to avoid the follow-on.

Bell drove fast bowler Ryan Harris for two fours as he raised a 50 partnership with his Warwickshire teammate.

Woakes fell for 25 when he edged Harris to Australia captain Michael Clarke at second slip.

Prior came in having managed just 86 runs in the series and was hit on the head as he failed to get out of the way of a Harris bouncer. However, next ball Prior guided the paceman down to third man for four.

He then stuck two fours in as many balls off Harris, a pull followed by a less convincing nick past the slips.

Prior’s two off Peter Siddle then took England past the score of 293 they needed to avoid the follow-on.

However, Bell’s hopes of becoming only the fourth batsman after Australia’s Don Bradman and England’s Herbert Sutcliffe and Walter Hammond to score four hundreds in an Ashes series ended when he was caught one-handed low down the legside by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin giving debutant left-arm seamer James Faulkner his first Test wicket.

Before lunch, Australia struck again when the first ball of Mitchell Starc’s second spell saw the left-arm paceman clean bowl Stuart Broad.

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