NASSER HUSSAIN: England showed phenomenal character and fight to draw

NASSER HUSSAIN: Another Ashes series whitewash for England looked inevitable at 36-4… without half their coaching staff and injuries to key men, the tourists showed phenomenal character and fight to draw in Sydney

  • England produced a fighting display to walk away with a draw in the Fourth Test
  • They have been through a lot and been hammered because of their displays 
  • To have the strength on that performance at 3-0 down is commendable
  • They owed that performance to all fans watching at the ground or at home 
  • The highlight of the final day was the performance of Zak Crawley

After everything that has gone on in Australia and, in the context of the last two years, the character and fight shown by England in drawing the fourth Test was phenomenal.

Ashley Giles was emotional before the game in trying to back up his side and he was right to highlight the demands of bubble life because it should be remembered how England have kept the Test show on the road during the pandemic.

They have been through a lot and have been getting hammered because of their performances in this Ashes. So to have the strength to put on that performance at 3-0 down, without half their coaching staff and with injuries to key players, is commendable.

England produced commendable display to get the draw despite injuries and missing coaching staff

The whitewash looked inevitable when England were down 36 for four in the first innings

It did look like the whitewash was inevitable when England were 36 for four in their first innings, the true low point of this tour, and England had to dig very deep to pull that escape off. Yes, it’s only a draw and, yes, England were nine down at the close but it was very pleasing for all England fans to finally have something to be happy about.

It should, of course be non-negotiable that every time you pull on an England shirt you give it absolutely everything you can and if you can’t win the game then you have to do everything in your power not to lose it. They owed that to the England fans in the ground and all those watching and listening at home to show that fight and character.

Again, this showed what a great game Test cricket is. It is so hard to explain to someone who is not into the game that you can have a draw after five long days and end up with a batsman in Steve Smith bowling to bowlers in Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad who are trying to save the game for their country. But that’s what makes it so special.

England players have been getting hammered for their performances at the Ashes

Zak Crawley’s performance was the highlight of the final day of the Fourth Test

For me the highlight yesterday was the performance of Zak Crawley. Seeing him start his innings on the fourth evening against high quality bowlers on a pitch that had deteriorated – but maybe not as much as expected, hence Pat Cummins late declaration – and then come back and put the pressure back on Australia was very encouraging.

Crawley was putting away anything loose with grace, style and timing in his 77 and that fluency was great to see after all England’s, and his own, problems at the top of the order. And it showed you cannot have a top three that are purely looking to survive.

You have to counter-punch, look to be aggressive and attack these Aussies. The better quality the bowling the more you have to go after them, as Crawley and also Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes have shown in this Test. Otherwise they will be at you all the time.

The performance proves that captain Joe Root has not lost the England dressing room

Jos Buttler’s Ashes tour has come to an end after suffering a fractured finger in Sydney

It’s odd to say someone who averaged 10 last year in Test cricket is worth investing in but Crawley deserves a good run in the side again now. I like the fact he said before the Test he was aiming to get a hundred even though you know when you say things like that in Australia you are going to cop it verbally from the likes of Nathan Lyon.

But Crawley is a confident lad and, when you speak to him, is also a very personable one who loves the game and, even though he still has slight technical issues he needs to address, he can look forward positively to 2022 now. He looked to be batting on a different pitch to everyone else yesterday.

How much will it mean to Joe Root to avoid having an Ashes whitewash on his record? Well, if you ask me once the Ashes are lost it just becomes a question of trying to win every game left without worrying about the final scoreline because every Test matters. 

But what this does show is that Root hasn’t lost the dressing room, there is still fight and there are still people who desperately want to put in a good performance. And that, when you talk to them before and after the game as captain, they are still listening.

England will also know that the journey to Hobart for the final Test has just got that little bit easier. When they turn up to Sydney Airport they will be getting just that little less abuse than if it had been 4-0 and they would have been dragging their chins on the floor.

With all the injuries and with Jos Buttler going home with that fractured finger, the week ahead would have been so much worse had England failed to hang on at the SCG. Now they can try to build on this in the final Test and keep that momentum going.

The performance will allow England to try and build momentum into the Fifth Test

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