SYDNEY: Australia skipper Pat Cummins defended his decision to delay a team declaration after being denied a fourth straight Test win by plucky England in Sydney on Sunday.
The battered English team defended desperately in the final overs to cling on for a draw with just one wicket left — and end Australia’s quest for a five-Test series whitewash ahead of this week’s final Hobart match.
The question asked after the gripping finish to the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground was: Did Cummins, in his first series as captain, leave his declaration too late on Saturday when Australia had amassed a massive lead?
Australia declared at 265 for six, leaving the tourists with a massive 388 runs to win. The best fourth innings winning chase at the SCG is 288-2 by Australia against South Africa in 2006.
“I wanted about three and a half runs an over,” Cummins told reporters.
“The wicket was still not playing too many tricks and I thought if they batted really well 350 was pretty achievable out there.
“I thought 110 overs was enough time.”
In the end, Australia came up just short of victory after controlling virtually all of the match and again dominating the tourists.
It was the fifth draw in eight Sydney Tests, with many impacted by the weather.
Australia have also failed to bowl the opposition out twice in three of their past six Tests, including the last two against India last year when there was a draw in Sydney and a loss in Brisbane that cost Australia the series and a place in the World Test Championship.
“Two of them have been here at the SCG, where the day five wicket doesn’t play like a traditional, broken up day five wicket,” Cummins said.
“In the back of our minds we knew it may potentially be a bit of a grind out there.
“It’s something we can look at. From this year to last year I think we’ve made some improvements. We probably stuck at some plans a little bit longer.”
Usman Khawaja’s remarkable Player of the Match performance, with centuries in both innings, ensured Australia were the only team that could win the match.
“Terrific game, we would have loved to win but great fight from England,” Khawaja said at the post-match presentation.
“It could have gone either way.
“We’ve played beautifully to this point, almost gone 4-0 up.
“Couldn’t have asked for much more this series. Hopefully next game we can win that, then win a few games away. World Test Championship, everything counts.”