One of the most memorable summers in the history of English cricket came to an end with an England victory at The Oval to level a thrilling Ashes series at 2-2.

After Australia had retained the urn at Emirates Old Trafford, they had the chance to complete their first series victory in England since 2001 but they were soundly beaten in London as England ended the series on a high.

This year’s Ashes series arrived just a couple of weeks after a scintillating World Cup Final at Lord’s and arguably the greatest game of all time as England became World Champions after beating New Zealand following a nail-biting Super Over.

The World Cup hangover was evident as England were blown away by Ireland on the opening day of their Test at Lord’s, before they hit back to bowl Ireland out for 38 as they avoided an embarrassing defeat.

Fortress Edgbaston was then the venue for the first Ashes Test the following week and England got off to a fantastic start after losing the toss to reduce the tourists to 122-8.

But it was one of the pantomime villains Steve Smith who dragged his side back into the Test match with a sublime 144 as Australia rallied to a first innings total of 284. It was the start of a theme that would be present throughout the series as Smith’s brilliance thwarted England time and time again.

Despite Rory Burns’ maiden Test century and a first innings lead of 90, Smith scored another century second time around as he and Matthew Wade helped Australia to 487-7 declared. England then capitulated to 146 on the final day, with Nathan Lyon claiming 6-49 to seal a 251-run victory and a 1-0 series lead.

A rain affected Second Test at Lord’s wasn’t without drama as England pressed for victory on the final day. Jofra Archer was impressive on his Test debut, Ben Stokes scored a fine Ashes hundred, and Smith managed to make another 92 despite suffering a blow to the head from the pace of the hostile Archer.

But time was against England and they couldn’t force an unlikely victory so it was on to Headingley and the scene of one of the best Test innings of all time.

A remarkable game of cricket saw Archer tear through the Australian batting line up to bowl them out for 179 before England were bundled out for a pitiful 67 in the face of some excellent from Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

Marnus Labuschagne then scored a fine 80 but Ben Stokes’ sensational 15-over spell hauled England back into the game as they were set an improbable 359 to win.

What followed was a day of cricket that rivalled the theatre and the drama of the World Cup Final earlier in the summer. Stokes had batted sensibly alongside Joe Root (77) and Joe Denly (50) as England pushed for an unlikely victory but a flurry of wickets after lunch meant that England found themselves 286-9 from a much healthier position of 245-4.

Then came THAT hour. Stokes struck boundary after boundary alongside the dogged Jack Leach as England secured a memorable victory in the midst of dropped catches, missed run outs and DRS disasters.

Australia got their revenge in the next Test as the returning Smith scored a fine double century to help Australia to a first innings lead of 196. This time a rearguard batting performance wasn’t enough to save England as Hazlewood trapped the defiant Craig Overton lbw late on the final day to complete a 185-run victory and ensure that the urn was heading down under.

England were able to level the series at The Oval as they dominated from the first morning onwards and whilst they weren’t able to regain the Ashes, they were able to end an incredible summer with a victory and ensure that Australia’s wait for a series victory in England goes on.

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