Ben Stokes suggested an Ashes series draw was a fair result and was not interested in entertaining "what ifs" for England after they beat Australia in the fifth Test.

England ran out 135-run winners at the Oval on Sunday to earn a stalemate, yet their hopes of claiming the urn had been ended a week earlier in defeat at Old Trafford.

The triumph in the last Test was the first time England had got the better of a full-strength Australia, with the outstanding Steve Smith limited to just 23 in his second innings.

But Stokes did not want to reflect on how the series might have panned out had they produced the same level of performance earlier in the series.

"I don't think you can ever look back and say, 'What if this happened', 'What if we'd done this differently'," he said, having been named England's player of the series by Australia coach Justin Langer.

"I think it's just been a great series of cricket, to be honest. It's ebbed and flowed in certain areas throughout every game. I think that's shown in the end result with it being 2-2.

"There's been two very evenly matched teams and two very competitive teams, as Ashes cricket always is. I think everyone's been treated to another great Ashes series."

Stokes handed England a historic one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley with a remarkable unbeaten knock of 135.

 

But having earlier suggested it would mean little if England did not regain the Ashes, the all-rounder indicated he still felt that way.

"It'll probably be something to look back on in a few years' time," he said.

"You know the saying that you'd probably give it all back if it meant we ended up lifting the urn at the end. But I'll come to that innings in a few years' time."

Stokes said he and the team are "100 per cent" behind captain Joe Root, while he picked out Rory Burns and Joe Denly for praise at the top of the order.

"Everyone who has come into the Test team has put their hand up and shown they can compete at the highest level," he said.

As well as Burns and Denly, Jofra Archer was another breakout star, collecting the player of the match honours in the fifth Test after taking 6-62 in Australia's first innings.

Archer, who shone on his debut in the second Test but later lacked consistency, said: "I went wicketless in two innings as well, you know?

"It's Test cricket for you. One day, it might be there; the next innings, it might not be. You have to keep going.

"There will be good days and there will be bad days. It's not every day I'm going to get a wicket. I might go wicketless for a few innings. I have to keep going. The team will back me up regardless."

Captain Tim Paine acknowledged there were "mixed emotions" after Australia retained the Ashes but failed to win the series in England.

Paine's men became the first Australia team to retain the Ashes in England since 2001 after taking a 2-1 lead following the fourth Test at Old Trafford last week.

But the tourists were beaten by 135 runs in the fifth and final match at the Oval on Sunday, leaving the series level at 2-2.

While Australia will take the urn home again, Paine conceded the nature of the last Test was an undeniable frustration.

"There's no doubt today puts a bit of a dampener on it. There are some mixed emotions," he said. "There were some great learnings out of the whole Ashes series for us.

"But from where this group's come from, to come to England and retain the Ashes is still a huge deal.

"We've got a lot to be proud of - there's been some fantastic cricket throughout - but we've got some improvement, some learning to do, which is a great thing for us."

Paine only became skipper after Steve Smith was banned for 12 months due to his role in the ball-tampering scandal last year.

The 34-year-old was not interested in a discussion of his leadership in the immediate aftermath of this week's defeat.

"I wouldn't say [being captain in the Ashes] was an endgame. I didn't see it as a beginning, I didn't see it as an option not that long ago," he said.

"I'm loving the job I have at the moment. I feel there's a little bit of unfinished business with this team and where we're heading, and I've got a little bit of cricket left in this body. But I'm not looking too far down the track."

Paine's captaincy has been criticised at times, with his reviewing often considered particularly poor and his option to bowl first after winning the toss at the Oval costly.

He said: "I've got a couple [of regrets] - probably starting with the toss. But after that, you've got to give credit to England. They outplayed us.

"But we didn't take our chances on day one. I feel a bit sorry for our bowlers - they were fantastic all series and created plenty of chances on day one. We just didn't back them up.

"They got ahead in the game and took it away from us."

Paine admitted: "I can't read a pitch that well. We're trying to get to a point where the toss isn't that important to us. We've got to win games of cricket when you lose the toss.

"Whether you bat or bowl first is irrelevant - we've got to do it better than we did in this Test match."

Joe Root believes he is the man to lead England to Ashes glory in Australia despite failing to regain the urn for the second time as captain.

England were thrashed 4-0 away from home in 2017-18 and then saw Australia retain the Ashes on English soil for the first time since 2001 despite being held to a 2-2 series draw this year.

Skipper Root was in fine form as the hosts secured that stalemate on Sunday, bowling and fielding superbly in a 135-run success at the Oval.

Despite criticism of his role as skipper following England's defeats earlier in the series, Root is determined he can be at the forefront of the next Ashes in 2021-22.

"I'm very much driven towards that," he said. "We've got two and a half years to prepare well for it.

"It's going to be a real focus for English cricket to make sure we do everything we can to be in the best possible space for that.

"I want to be at the front of that, I want to be at the front of this team as, hopefully, the man to bring the Ashes back to England."

Sunday's victory over Australia was Trevor Bayliss' last match as England coach and Root paid tribute to the man who led the ODI team to their first Cricket World Cup triumph.

"Trevor is brilliant. He's added so much, he's obviously added a huge amount to this Test team," Root said. "He's been involved in some fantastic series wins both home and away - and what he's done for white-ball English cricket is phenomenal.

"He's very much valued in the dressing room, he's got a great sense of humour, he'll never give you anything.

"We all played for him this week and we're really pleased to send him off in great fashion."

Root added of Bayliss' relationship with Ben Stokes, England's player of the series and World Cup hero: "Over a period of time, you get very strong relationships with players and coaches.

"I think those two have gelled very well. There's a good element of banter between the two of them, they enjoy taking the mick out of one another, and there's a huge amount of respect as well.

"That counts for a huge amount. Trevor's done wonderful things and allowed guys like Ben to go and play in their way, to not be afraid to go and express themselves.

"Look where he is now and at his development over a four, five-year period. He's now one of the world's best all-rounders. It's one of the small things Trevor has done for English cricket."

Steve Smith insists he will continue to work to get better despite an outstanding series for Australia as they retained the Ashes in England.

Former captain Smith, making his Test return after a 12-month ban for his role in the team's ball-tampering scandal, was named the player of the series on Sunday after producing a number of sensational displays.

England earned a 2-2 draw by winning the fifth match at The Oval as Smith made just 23 in the second innings – by far his lowest total of the tour – yet his performances to that point had almost singlehandedly ensured the urn would return to Australia.

He scored 144 and 142 as Australia won the first Test at Edgbaston and then again starred in their second win, making 211 and 82 at Old Trafford in the fourth match.

Smith is not content to rest on his laurels following these efforts, though, determined he will do whatever he can to keep winning matches for Australia.

"Of course you always want to get better as a player," he said. "I'll continue to try to get better as long as I play.

"That's the key, I think. You've got to keep working hard. Nothing's ever too much, you've just got to keep working hard and try to do whatever you can to win the game for your team. I'll continue to do that as long as I can."

The ball-tampering scandal meant Smith was jeered by England fans throughout the tour, yet he received a standing ovation after being bowled out for the final time on Sunday.

"It meant a lot. It's been an amazing couple of months in England, with the World Cup and the Ashes. The cricket has been absolutely spectacular," he said.

"The series has ebbed and flowed throughout and there's been some terrific cricket played. I've loved every minute. I'm really proud to be able to perform for Australia and help to bring the urn home."

Australia came up 135 runs short of England in the fifth match, though, unable to secure even a fifth day as Smith rued his and his team-mates' failure to help Matthew Wade, who smashed 117.

"We thought the middle of the wicket still played pretty well and Matthew Wade showed that if you applied yourself and had really good plans and keep taking the game on, you can score runs," he added.

"He batted beautifully. Unfortunately, he didn't have many of us stick around with him long enough to help the team out.

"But England played some terrific cricket throughout this Test match and throughout this series as well. It's been great fun to be involved in."

England clinched the fifth and final Ashes Test by 135 runs on Sunday to draw the series in a fine response to Australia retaining the urn.

Another Steve Smith masterclass saw the tourists move 2-1 in front at Old Trafford to ensure the Ashes would be heading back to Australia, yet they could not end an 18-year wait for a series win in England.

Joe Root's side dominated at the Oval this week and Australia scarcely looked like troubling the target of 399 they were set when the hosts were bowled out early on day four.

Stuart Broad was in excellent form and, as well as continuing to dominate against the openers, he got the crucial wicket of Smith for a relatively paltry 23.

That set Australia up for a long, hard chase and Matthew Wade did the heavy lifting with a knock of 117.

But Root joined Broad and Co. in the attack and got Wade himself, as well as seeing his calls in the field - questioned earlier in the series - rewarded with good use of the other bowlers at his disposal.

Australia were struggling simply to see out the day and Root made catches from consecutive balls, giving England victory in their final match under Cricket World Cup-winning coach Trevor Bayliss.

Stuart Broad continued his dominance of David Warner as England took three wickets before lunch on day four at The Oval after Australia were set a mammoth 399 for a series victory.

England were bowled out for 329 early on a glorious Sunday in London, setting the tourists – already assured of retaining the urn – an unlikely target to secure a 3-1 triumph.

The wondrous Steve Smith was unbeaten 18 on at the end of the morning session, but Australia – seeking a first series win in England since 2001 – were up against it on 68-3 after losing Warner, Marcus Harris and Marnus Labuschagne.

Broad matched a Test record by dismissing Warner (11) for the seventh time in the series and also got rid of Harris (nine) before Jack Leach sent Labuschagne (14) on his way.

England added only 16 runs to their overnight total after resuming on 313-8, Jofra Archer gloving Pat Cummins (2-67) behind and Nathan Lyon (4-69) seeing the back of Leach to end the innings.

Broad smashed Cummins for two sixes into the leg side before Leach fell and the paceman did more damage with the ball to leave Australia in trouble on 29-2.

Australia's highest opening stand of 18 was ended when Harris – who needed seven stitches in his left hand after splitting the webbing when dropping Joe Denly on day two – lost his off stump to the paceman.

Warner was unable to end a miserable series with the bat on a high note, edging Broad to Rory Burns in the slips and departing to a chorus of boos.

The prolific Smith got off the mark with a glorious cover drive off Archer and was still there at lunch along with Matthew Wade (10no) after Labuschagne was smartly stumped by Jonny Bairstow when Leach got one to turn past his outside edge.

Australia have been set 399 runs to win the Ashes series 3-1 after England were bowled out early on day four of the final Test at The Oval.

England were dismissed for 329 in their second innings after resuming on 313-8 on a glorious Sunday in London, Jofra Archer falling for only three before Jack Leach (nine) was dismissed by Nathan Lyon (4-69).

Australia successfully reviewed after Archer was given not out by umpire Marais Erasmus when he gloved Pat Cummins (2-67) behind in the second over of the day.

Stuart Broad smashed Cummins for two sixes in an over but was left stranded on 12 when Leach was taken by Josh Hazlewood attempting to hit Lyon for a boundary.

Australia face a huge run chase under blue skies as they eye a first Ashes win in England since 2001, with Joe Root's side strong favourites to salvage a 2-2 draw a week after a defeat at Old Trafford gave them no chance of regaining the urn.

Joe Denly and Ben Stokes pressed home England's advantage with an unbroken century stand in a wicket-less afternoon session on day three of the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

England, striving to secure a 2-2 series draw after the tourists retained the urn at Old Trafford, were 193-2 at tea on a sunny Saturday in London - leading by 262 runs on a good pitch.

Nathan Lyon removed Rory Burns (20) and Joe Root (21) before lunch, but Denly was unbeaten on his highest Test score of 82 not out after putting on 106 for the third wicket with Stokes (57no).

Stokes was dropped on seven by Steve Smith, while Denly - whose wife gave birth to their second child this week  - was fortunate not to be given out leg before off Mitchell Marsh after being put down by Marcus Harris on day three.

Harris was unable to field after having seven stitches in his left hand to repair split webbing sustained when he spilled Denly before he had got off the mark on Friday.

Burns and Denly started positively after England resumed on nine without loss, but the highest opening stand of the series was halted at 54 when the left-hander chased a wide one from Lyon and feathered behind.

Root fell tamely, edging the spinner to Smith at first slip before lunch, and Stokes should have departed in the same fashion, only for the best Test batsman in the world to drop a simple chance.

Denly, struck on the box by Pat Cummins in the morning session, had a fourth Test half-century courtesy of a wristy boundary off Josh Hazlewood.

Stokes swept Lyon for four and six off back-to-back deliveries and there was more frustration for Australia when Denly survived an lbw appeal off Marsh that should have been answered in the affirmative and Tim Paine opted not to review.

Vice-captain Stokes, playing as a specialist batsman due to a shoulder injury, raised his bat after hammering a Marnus Labuschagne full toss for six. Denly then brought up the century stand by driving the spinner for four as he closed in on a maiden Test hundred.

Nathan Lyon dismissed Rory Burns and Joe Root but England were in a strong position at lunch on day three of the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

Lyon removed Burns for 20 to end an opening stand of 54 - the highest of the series - and also accounted for Root (21) to leave England 88-2 at the interval, leading by 157 runs.

The positive Joe Denly, whose wife gave birth to their second child ahead of day two, was unbeaten on 37 as England continued their attempt to salvage a 2-2 draw after the tourists retained the urn at Old Trafford.

Marcus Harris was off the field with seven stitches in his left hand to repair split webbing sustained when he dropped Denly without scoring late on day two and the England batsman inflicted more pain on his fellow opener on a sunny Saturday morning.

Denly stated his intent by hitting Pat Cummins down the ground for four in the first over of the day and Burns cut Josh Hazlewood to the boundary in a great start for England after they resumed on nine without loss.

Lyon was given the treatment by Denly in the spinner's opening set of six, the right-hander dispatching him over his head for four with disdain and again using his feet superbly to launch the next delivery for a straight six.

Burns brought up the fifty partnership with a glorious off-drive for four off Peter Siddle, but trudged off on his home ground after chasing a wide ball from Lyon and feathering a catch to Tim Paine.

Both umpires had a word with Matthew Wade after he welcomed Root with some verbals and Denly was on his knees wincing when Cummins struck him on the box.

England were ticking along nicely until Lyon accounted for Root 10 minutes prior to lunch after a change of ends, the captain tamely edging to slip.

Australia star Steve Smith accepted he was tricked by Jonny Bairstow during day two of the fifth Ashes Test against England.

Bairstow fooled Smith into diving to make his ground, pretending he was about to receive a throw as Jofra Archer took the ball at the bowler's end.

Smith, whose fine series continued as he made 80 and Australia were bowled out for 225 in response to England's 294, said Bairstow had tricked him.

"He got me there, didn't he? Dirtied my clothes. He didn't say anything I don't think, but he got me," the star batsman told a news conference.

"I didn't know where the ball was, bloody thing, he faked it. He got me, I don't know what else to say."

Smith revealed he battled the flu on Friday as Australia were left with a 69-run first-innings deficit.

Archer starred, taking 6-62, and England pushed into a lead of 78 runs at stumps to be well-placed in the fifth Test.

Smith praised the 24-year-old for his performance, saying: "He's a quality performer.

"We've seen him come out and he's got two five-fors in four Test matches. You don't get guys bowling 90 miles per hour growing on trees.

"With a skill set like he's got, he's a terrific bowler and there's no doubt he'll gain a lot of confidence from his first Test series, being an Ashes series, they're always huge as we know.

"Of course, he's got a very bright future."

Australia star Steve Smith accepted he was tricked by Jonny Bairstow during day two of the fifth Ashes Test against England.

Bairstow fooled Smith into diving to make his ground, pretending he was about to receive a throw as Jofra Archer took the ball at the bowler's end.

Smith, whose fine series continued as he made 80 and Australia were bowled out for 225 in response to England's 294, said Bairstow had tricked him.

"He got me there, didn't he? Dirtied my clothes. He didn't say anything I don't think, but he got me," the star batsman told a news conference.

"I didn't know where the ball was, bloody thing, he faked it. He got me, I don't know what else to say."

Smith revealed he battled the flu on Friday as Australia were left with a 69-run first-innings deficit.

Archer starred, taking 6-62, and England pushed into a lead of 78 runs at stumps to be well-placed in the fifth Test.

Smith praised the 24-year-old for his performance, saying: "He's a quality performer.

"We've seen him come out and he's got two five-fors in four Test matches. You don't get guys bowling 90 miles per hour growing on trees.

"With a skill set like he's got, he's a terrific bowler and there's no doubt he'll gain a lot of confidence from his first Test series, being an Ashes series, they're always huge as we know.

"Of course, he's got a very bright future."

Jofra Archer could sense Steve Smith was not at his best at The Oval, where England denied Australia's Ashes hero a fourth three-figure score of a remarkable series.

Smith, who revealed after his first innings 80 he has been struggling with flu, was trapped lbw by Chris Woakes on day two.

Even when not at full health, the right-hander still provided the most impressive resistance of any member of the Australia batting line-up, which wilted in response to England's 294 all out.

The tourists may have already retained the urn but Archer's six-for restricted them to 225, with England surviving four overs before the close to take a lead of 78 runs into day three.

Asked in a media conference about England's satisfaction in getting Smith out for what, by his standards, was a low score, Archer replied: "It's weird, every time he bats, I don't know what it is, he literally cannot get out.

"When he plays a bad shot the ball just lands in no-man's land. Obviously he's a good batter, he's got a good temperament but the ball just never goes to hand.

"He didn't look himself today, he didn't look as nailed on, he didn't seem the same way. 

"We know he's going to miss one. We always felt we had a chance."

Archer took the last wicket of the innings courtesy of a stunning one-handed catch from Rory Burns to dismiss Peter Siddle.

"When I saw him hit the ball I thought it was four to be honest, when I saw it going near him I didn't think it was going to carry either," said Archer of that final wicket.

"Special catch, even better to get us off the field. Sometimes if you don't get them out tonight they come back tomorrow and probably get another 30 or 40 runs and the lead isn't big.

"I don't think we should underestimate how good that catch was, especially with the position it's put us in."

Little stock will be put in England drawing the series to those outside the camp, but Archer still believes there is plenty at stake in the final Test.

"It would mean a lot for the team [to draw the series], there's still a lot to play for," Archer added. "There's still the Test championship and our own personal game, although the Ashes are lost we've still got a lot to play for."

Marnus Labuschagne denied Australia have let their intensity levels slip after retaining the Ashes despite England dominating day two of the final Test.

After Rory Burns saw a poor lbw verdict from umpire Kumar Dharmasena overturned on review from the final ball of Friday's play at The Oval, England lead by 78 runs with all 10 wickets in hand in their second innings.

Labuschagne made 48 but was one of six wickets to fall to England paceman Jofra Archer as Australia were bowled out for 225, Steve Smith offering the main resistance with a typically doughty 80.

England are well placed to close out a victory that would draw them level at 2-2 despite failing to reclaim the urn, but Labuschagne insists Australia remain determined to win the series.

"We came here today looking for a really solid batting performance and obviously we didn't do that but we're still in the contest," Labuschagne told BBC Sport.

"The intensity definitely has not dropped. It's hard to say that when our play on the field maybe reflects that. But we came to win the Ashes and we really want to do that.

"We don't want to just retain the Ashes. We have to come out tomorrow 100 per cent on it and ready to take any chance."

Jofra Archer claimed six wickets as England took control of the fifth and final Ashes Test on day two as they look to draw the series with Australia having already retained the urn.

Having slumped from 170-3 to 271-8 on day one, England added just 23 to their overnight total at The Oval.

Archer, however, condemned Australia to a first-innings deficit with a magnificent bowling display, while Chris Woakes ensured Australia's talisman Steve Smith did not post his fourth three-figure score of an incredible series.

David Warner's miserable run of form continued as he went for five to Archer, who then dismissed Marcus Harris (3) in a blistering start.

Australia were 187-8 when Smith, who is now just 16 runs shy of the top five on the list of most runs in an Ashes series on 751, departed. Despite some late resistance from Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon, Archer polished off the tail to leave the tourists 225 all out and 69 runs behind.

Rory Burns and Joe Denly, who was late arriving to the ground following his wife giving birth to their second child, just about survived four overs before the close, extending the lead to 78 as England aim to make sure a disappointing series does not end in defeat.

The prospect of a 3-1 series result appeared more likely when Jos Buttler and Jack Leach fell in relatively short order after frustrating Australia late on day one.

However, Archer immediately set about putting Australia on the back foot.

Warner came into the match on the back of three successive ducks and he faced only eight balls before he sent a wafer-thin edge behind to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, with only nine more runs added when Harris was caught at second slip.

A familiar tale appeared to be unfolding when Marnus Labuschagne and Smith made it to lunch unscathed in a third-wicket partnership.

However, that stand was ended when Labuschagne was trapped in front by Archer, with Smith again providing the only tangible resistance in the middle order, bringing up his fifty with a six over long on.

Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh each fell before Root dropped Smith at first slip off Sam Curran, who was soon sprinting away in celebration after removing Tim Paine and Pat Cummins in consecutive deliveries. Yet it was Woakes who prompted the biggest cheers of the day, trapping Smith in front.

Burns was dropped by Harris in fading light and also successfully reviewed a poor lbw decision from umpire Kumar Dharmasena from the last ball of the day as England made it through to stumps unscathed.

David Warner has endured a torrid Ashes series, with the contrast between his performances and that of team-mate Steve Smith could hardly be greater.

Warner was dismissed for scores of two, eight, three, five and 61 before recording three successive ducks prior to the fifth and final Test at The Oval.

His dire form continued in London on Friday, as he edged Jofra Archer behind for five in the second over of Australia's first innings.

It means he has scored only 84 runs, while Smith's incredible staying power at the crease has him eyeing a place in the top five on the list of players to have scored the most runs in an Ashes series.

Smith's boundary count is already higher than Warner's run tally, with Australia's talisman in position to add significantly to that tally having reached tea on 59 not out.

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