Australia retain the Ashes after another epic clash in fourth Test at Old Trafford

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Australia have retained the Ashes with the dominant Steve Smith once again providing too good for the English.

The writing has somewhat been on the wall since the first Test of the series, with the Aussies claiming the opening salvo by 251 runs – the first time since 2005 that the visitors had won the opening Test on British soil.

Ben Stokes, and the traditional English weather, helped England to a draw in the second Test at Lord’s, and then the all-rounder's heroics in the third at Headingley dragged the home team back into contention – claiming the Test by a single wicket.

Australia were back to their dominant best for the fourth Test, however, with Smith once again leading the line with his unbelievable batting ability.

Becoming only the second man in history to hit nine consecutive half centuries against the same team, the former captain hit a stunning 82 on the penultimate day, leaving Australia with a lead of 382 – and England needing all-but a miracle to keep their final Test hopes alive.

Pat Cummins then broke English hearts after claiming both Rory Burns and Joe Root with successive deliveries, before Joe Denly and Jason Roy managed to see out the next six overs, closing on 18-2.

However, the final day was more of the same, and Roy was the first man to lose his wicket after battling to a score of 31 before being dismissed by the ever-impressive Cummings.

Headingley hero Stokes quickly followed, edging a Cummings delivery behind to Tim Paine, and then it was Denly's turn to leave the wicket after he was caught off Nathan Lyon.

With hours still left on the clock, England were on 94-5 and their Ashes hopes were all-but over.

England v Australia - 4th Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

Jonny Bairstow was next to fall after he was trapped LBW by Starc just after a drinks break, and that left the hosts 138-6.

Despite doing their best to get to the finish line, Jos Buttler and Craig Overton's partnership was finally broken when the former's stump got sent flying from a Hazlewood delivery.

Buttler was soon joined back in the pavilion by Jofra Archer, who was caught LBW by Lyon for just 1.

Jack Leach did what he does best and defended well for a period of time, but he was dismissed for 12, and that left England 196-9.

With that wicket, the writing was on the wall.

England v Australia - 4th Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Five

The victory for Australia sees them pull further clear in the overall standings, after their 2017-2018 victory put them on 33 overall wins, compared to England’s 32.

Whilst for the most part it will remain a tournament to forget for many English fans, Ben Stokes’ heroics will live long in the memory, and will at least provide something for the home fans to look back upon.

Play for the fifth Test will start on September 12, with the final five days of the series being played at The Oval, although it will only be pride on the line for Root's men, rather than that famous little urn.

Congratulations to Australia, and everyone will surely be willing to admit, Steve Smith was simply too good this summer.

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