Retiring Stuart Broad took a wicket with his final ever delivery in cricket as England took seven wickets in the last session to draw the Ashes.
Australia will return to the southern hemisphere with the famous urn but the 2-2 Ashes draw ensures they continue a run in England without a series victory dating back to 2001.
Australia went 2-0 up after Test matches at Edgbaston and Lord’s before England halved the deficit at Headingley.
The fourth Test at Old Trafford was drawn to ensure Australia retained the Ashes but England levelled the series yesterday at the Oval.
With rain dampening the odds of a result on the final day in south London, Australia needed 146 runs with seven wickets in hand after a rain delay to claim an historic series victory in England.
Travis Head fell to one of Moeen Ali’s three wickets in the session before Steve Smith was caught by Zak Crawley off England’s player of the series Chris Woakes’ bowling.
Mitchell Marsh was dismissed by Ali, who came out of retirement for this series, before Woakes dismissed Mitchell Starc.
Captain Pat Cummins was caught by England skipper Ben Stokes off the bowling of Ali before Broad came into play.
The 37-year-old swapped the bails in Australia’s first innings and proceeded to get batter Marnus Labuschagne out next ball. Yesterday evening he caressed the bails before dismissing Todd Murphy next ball. The perfect script crescendo was being written.
Broad fairy tale
And Broad – who hit the last ball he faced with the bat for six – got his 604th and final wicket with his last ever delivery in Test cricket, against Alex Carey, to earn England a 49-run victory.
It was a fairy tale ending for Broad, England and an Ashes series that has delighted for six weeks, albeit neither side managed to win the series.
“Coming into this series, if you looked back 14 months ago, to bounce back from 2-0 would have been tough for any team,” Stokes said. “What a series to be part off, it’s what test cricket needed.
“I know we’ve been vocal about it but this series has captivated so many new fans and attracted new fans to the game.”
And on the appetite for the next Ashes in 2025? “It’s hard to lose an appetite when you love Test cricket as much as I do,” he added.
Ali confirmed a second retirement from Test cricket after the match.