Frank Lampard has no set expectations for Tammy Abraham this season but believes the Chelsea striker has given himself every opportunity of earning an England call-up.

Abraham scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Wolves on Saturday, taking his tally of Premier League goals to the season for seven, with all of them coming in Chelsea's last three outings.

The forward missed out on Gareth Southgate's most recent England squad, though he has since moved level with Sergio Aguero at the top of the Premier League scoring charts.

Abraham is also eligible for Nigeria should he decide to snub an England call-up, though Lampard is certain the 21-year-old has the mentality to succeed if he is selected by Gareth Southgate.

Chelsea's head coach also insists he always had full faith in the youngster to lead the line this term regardless of their transfer ban.

"I never had clear expectations for him, only that I believed in him and trusted him," Lampard told a news conference ahead of Chelsea's Champions League meeting with Valencia on Tuesday.

"A lot has been made of the [transfer] ban giving young players the potential opportunities, but I thought the time was right to give Tammy the opportunity at this club anyway because of the quality he's got.

"I'm really delighted he's got his goals, there's more still to come. He's in a place now where he just needs to sustain and improve even more, and I think with his mentality and how he is I hope to see that.

When asked about Abraham's England chances, Lampard said: "It's not a question for me.

"I've just spoken about how I feel about Tammy. He's put himself in the bracket for England with being top scorer at this point.

"It's one for Gareth, I'd hate to step on his toes but it's clear with what Tammy is doing he's going to be wanted."

Prior to this season, Abraham had spent the past three campaigns out on loan at Bristol City, Swansea City and Aston Villa, respectively.

Steve Smith certainly produced some eye-catching performances for Australia during the 2019 Ashes.

The world's top-ranked batsman in the longest format excelled in the five-match series, contributing 774 runs at an average of 110.57, including a double century in the fourth Test.

His fabulous knock of 211 laid the foundations for an Australia victory at Old Trafford – a result that put them 2-1 up in the series and, with just one game left to play, made sure they were certain to retain the urn.

Smith donned a pair of spectacles in the celebrations in Manchester, though the choice of eyewear was not mocking England's glasses-wearing spinner Jack Leach, as was initially thought.

Photographer Ryan Pierse, who captured the moment during Australia's post-match party, tweeted that, rather than poking fun at Leach – a cult hero with England fans after making one not out in the dramatic conclusion to the third Test – the ex-Australia captain was actually referencing former team-mate Chris Rogers.

And there was certainly no ill-feeling between Smith and Leach as they shared a drink after the series finale at The Oval on Sunday, with a picture on Twitter capturing the pair arm in arm while both wearing glasses.

"An all-time great – and Steve Smith," England's official account tweeted, along with a winking face emoji.

"Congratulations on an incredible #Ashes series @stevesmith49. Leachy loves the glasses."

After keeping Ben Stokes company to steer England to an unlikely one-wicket win at Headingley, Leach returned to the pitch after proceedings to recreate the single that had levelled the scores.

So, will Leach and Smith get to see each other again in the next Ashes? We will have to wait until 2021 to find out...
 

The 2019 Ashes certainly lived up to the pre-series hype.

England and Australia had no shortage of talent on display but also glaring holes in both sides were exposed over the course of five intriguing battles that provided plenty of twists and turns.

There were brilliant exhibitions of fast bowling. There were centuries (thanks largely to Steve Smith!). There was a fairy-tale finish for the ages, too, but in the end no outright winner.

Australia retained the Ashes but England's victory at The Oval in the fifth and final chapter means a 2-2 result, the first series draw between the rivals since 1972.

Here, Omnisport picks out the key moments as we recap each Test.

 

AUSTRALIA EIGHT DOWN, ANDERSON OUT

Tim Paine’s decision to bat first in the series opener appeared foolish when his side slipped to 122-8 on the opening day Edgbaston. Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes did the damage, but James Anderson was only able to bowl four overs before leaving the field.

His absence was keenly felt as, with Smith beginning his one-man crusade against the England attack, Australia’s last two wickets added 166 runs. Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon showed the supposed batsmen how it should be done in bowler-friendly conditions, supporting their former captain, who finished up with 144 as a potentially disastrous first innings was transformed into a competitive total.

Anderson, meanwhile, only appeared again in the game to bat due to a calf problem. He attempted a comeback in time to play at his home ground of Old Trafford later in the series, but a setback on second XI duty for Lancashire scuppered that plan, meaning England's all-time leading wicket-taker in the longest format sent down just 24 deliveries against Australia.

 

ARCHER MAKES AN INSTANT IMPACT 

With Anderson out, England handed a debut to Jofra Archer for the second Test at Lord's. The pace bowler had been a key component of the one-day squad that won the Cricket World Cup on home soil earlier in the year but warned the public not to expect "miracles" in his Test bow.

There was no miracle – Archer was not quite able to bowl England to victory in the final session of a game that had seen the entire first day wiped out by rain – but his performance caused quite a stir.

He claimed five wickets in the match, struck down Smith with a seriously quick bouncer when the batsman was seemingly on course for a third successive triple-figure knock and, subsequently, played his part in Test history as the first concussion substitute was used. Marnus Labuschagne was laid low by a delivery from Archer too, yet beat the count to carry on batting and make a crucial half-century to secure a draw.

 

HEADINGLEY MIRACLE - VOL II

At a venue where Ian Botham famously salvaged a seemingly lost cause to secure an unlikely Ashes victory in the 1981 series, Ben Stokes produced a performance at Headingley that will see him forever remembered in crick folklore.

Bowled out for just 67 in their first innings, England's valiant bid to reach a tough victory target of 359 appeared set to fall short when they slipped from 245-4 to 286-9 on the fourth afternoon. Yet Stokes refused to give in, choosing to go on the attack with a display of hitting that, with each boundary, raised the possibility of a stunning result.

The left-hander made 135 not out with eight sixes to drag his team over the line, aided by last-man Jack Leach surviving 17 balls and contributing a quick single that turned him into a cult hero. Australia failed to remain composed amid the carnage, wasting their final review and butchering a run-out chance when Lyon somehow fumbled a tame throw to the bowler's end.

 

SMITH AT THE DOUBLE

Having missed the defeat in Leeds due to concussion, Smith returned as the series shifted across the Pennines to Manchester – and made up for lost time with another telling contribution with the bat.  England's plans to rough him up with the short ball failed to pay off as the right-hander made his third Ashes double hundred, in the process taking his tally past 500 runs for a third successive series.

Given a life when dismissed off a no ball from spinner Leach, the former skipper finished up with 211 out of Australia's 497-8 declared. England avoided having to follow-on in reply but 82 from Smith second time around left Root's side needing another Herculean fourth-innings performance to keep the series alive.

While Stokes failed to fire again, it appeared the great escape could be on when Leach combined with Somerset colleague Craig Overton to push the game into the final hour. Fearing another opportunity was set to go begging, Paine turned to Labuschagne's leg spin. The move paid off as he dismissed Leach, opening the door just wide enough for the excellent Josh Hazlewood to wrap up victory in fading light as the tourists moved 2-1 ahead.

 

A PAINE-FUL DECISION & JOE 90

Perhaps it was the fact the urn was already retained, almost akin to a last-day-of-school situation, that led to captain Paine opting to bowl first after winning the toss. England failed to fully capitalise on the opportunity, posting 294, but Smith only (only!) made 82 as Archer's second six-wicket haul in the series secured a useful first-innings lead.

Following a dash home after day one to see the birth of his daughter, England opener Joe Denly celebrated the new arrival with a Test-best score of 94, helping to set Australia plenty in the final innings on a worn surface.

Broad dismissed David Warner for a seventh time in 10 innings – the opener finished the series with 95 runs (only Hazlewood posted a lower average for the visitors than the left-hander's 9.50) – and when Smith fell into England’s leg-side trap, it was just a matter of when, not if, the hosts would triumph. Matthew Wade went down swinging with a hundred, but the topsy-turvy series ended level.

Over the next six weeks, dreams will be realised, heroes will emerge and hearts will be broken at the Rugby World Cup.

The greatest prize in the sport is up for grabs in Japan, where New Zealand are aiming to be crowned champions for the third successive tournament.

There are sure to be thrills, spills and stories that will stand the test of time.

Below, we take a look at some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Rugby World Cup.


Wilkinson kicks England to glory in Sydney

England entered the 2003 Rugby World Cup as favourites and regarded as the best team in the world. Clive Woodward's side lived up to the billing to set up a final against an Australia outfit led by now England coach Eddie Jones. A tense encounter between the old rivals was level at 14-14 by full-time and a penalty each from Jonny Wilkinson and Elton Flatley meant the teams were still tied with the clock winding down. But in a dramatic finale, Martin Johnson drew the contact, Matt Dawson bided his time with the pass and England legend Wilkinson, on his weaker right foot, nailed the drop goal to kick his country to World Cup glory – becoming the first northern hemisphere side in history to lift the trophy.

Western Samoa upset Wales in Cardiff

It just was not in the script. Wales, one of the proudest rugby nations in the world, were hosting the unheralded Western Samoa in Cardiff. A routine win, surely? Think again. In one of the worst days in Wales' rugby history, the Cardiff Arms Park crowd were stunned by a 16-13 defeat in the 1991 World Cup in which Mathew Vaea starred with the boot. Wales failed to make it out of the group stages and it marked the first time a seeded nation had lost to a non-seeded nation. 

Warburton sees red as Wales fall agonisingly short

It was 10 years later that Wales would suffer more disappointment, albeit in more valiant and heart-breaking fashion in a 9-8 loss to France in an Auckland semi-final. That Wales came so close is to their credit given they were reduced to 14 men in the 19th minute when talismanic captain Sam Warburton was controversially sent off for a big tackle on Vincent Clerc. A yellow card would have been a fairer decision in such a huge game but luck did not favour Wales, who saw Stephen Jones hit the post with the conversion from Mike Phillips' try with 23 minutes remaining. Leigh Halfpenny also saw a long-range attempt fall short as Wales' World Cup dream came to a halt.

Lomu bulldozes Catt in England slaughtering 

It was a performance of a lifetime. Having already starred with three tries prior to the 1995 semi-final, Jonah Lomu truly announced himself on the world stage with a four-score haul in the All Blacks' 45-29 hammering of England in Cape Town. It was a barnstorming, awe-inspiring showing from the giant flyer, who unceremoniously trampled over future World Cup winner Mike Catt in one of the tournament's most famous tries.

Pienaar-led Springboks unite South Africa 

Lomu and New Zealand fell short in the 1995 final, though. The sight of South Africa president Nelson Mandela donning a Springboks jersey and handing over the Webb Ellis Cup to inspirational captain Francois Pienaar is one of the most iconic images in sport. South Africa tamed Lomu and the All Blacks to triumph 15-12 in Johannesburg.

Brave Blossoms cause monumental Springboks shock

It was an altogether different feeling for South Africa a decade later as the Springboks were victims of one the greatest upsets in the history of all sports against Japan. The two-time world champions boasted 851-caps worth of experience in their starting XV, but the Brave Blossoms lived up to their name with a performance brimming with pace and invention. Karne Hesketh was the man who wrote his name into history with the late try that secured an unbelievable 34-32 victory in Brighton.

The Rugby World Cup is the greatest stage in the sport and offers an incredible chance for players to make a name for themselves.

Hosts Japan and Russia will get the action underway on Friday and 24 hours later spectators will have also been treated to Australia v Fiji, France v Argentina and New Zealand v South Africa.

It promises to be a hugely entertaining tournament and we have taken a look at the young talents set to light up the competition.

 

Sevu Reece (22, New Zealand)

He only made his Crusaders debut as an injury replacement against the Chiefs in March, but Reece has already established himself as one of the most exciting wings in the world.

Reece's incredible pace and clinical finishing saw him top the Super Rugby try-scoring charts with 15 as the Crusaders won the title for the third straight year and he has touched down twice in his three appearances for the All Blacks.

Tom Curry (21, England)

Eddie Jones has long been an admirer of flanker Curry, making him the youngest player to start for England in 90 years during the tour to Argentina in 2017.

That came at the end of his breakthrough season at Sale Sharks and the back-rower has gone from strength to strength, starting all of England's Six Nations matches this year.

Romain Ntamack (20, France)

Ntamack can play at inside centre of fly-half and comes from good stock: his father Emile won 46 caps for France and was part of the side that won the Five Nations Grand Slam in 1997 and reached the World Cup final two years later.

But Romain has proved himself a promising player in his own right, winning the Six Nations and World Cup at Under-20 level in 2018 and helping Toulouse end a seven-year wait for Top 14 success last season.

Herschel Jantjies (23, South Africa)

Stormers scrum-half Jantjies wasted no time in making his mark for the Springboks, scoring a debut double against Australia in July.

Jantjies then touched down in the 80th minute to help earn a 16-16 draw against the All Blacks in his second cap - a result that proved crucial to South Africa winning the Rugby Championship for the first time in 10 years.

Rhys Carre (21, Wales)

The 6ft 3in, 20-stone prop was included in Warren Gatland's squad for Japan having only made his international debut against Ireland on August 31.

Towering front-rower Carre was in April snapped up by Premiership champions Saracens and will likely have a big impact in the breakdown, set-piece and when carrying the ball.

Steve Smith admitted he was "cooked" after helping Australia retain the Ashes with a 2-2 series draw against England.

Smith made his lowest score of the series – 23 – as the tourists slumped to a 135-run defeat in the fifth Test at The Oval on Sunday.

It gave England a 2-2 series draw, but that result was enough for Australia to retain the urn, with Smith awarded the Compton-Miller Medal as player of the series.

Smith, who made 774 runs at an average of 110.57 during the series, said he was exhausted.

"I guess it was a nice reception as I walked off. It would have been nice if I had a few more runs under my belt in this game as I walked off. It was a nice reception," he told a news conference.

"I've given it my all since I've been here, the last four and a half months and every Test match that we've played.

"I didn't have much left to give today, I'm pretty cooked to be honest, mentally and physically.

"I'm looking forward to a nice couple of weeks rest now before getting back into the Australian summer."

Smith carried Australia throughout the series despite missing the third Test due to concussion.

Australia captain Tim Paine said there was plenty of room for improvement from his team, acknowledging Smith's heroics.

"We've still got a way to go, Steve had an unbelievably good series and won us a couple of Tests by himself," he said.

"We've got some parts we need to improve but I think if we can click them into gear while we've got Steve at the height of his powers and the pace attack we've got then in the next few years we're going to be a very difficult team to beat."

Trevor Bayliss praised England's character and felt a drawn Ashes series against Australia was a "fair" result.

England secured a 135-run victory in the fifth Test at The Oval on Sunday to see the series drawn 2-2, although that was enough for Australia to retain the urn.

Bayliss, the outgoing England head coach, accepted his side were below their best during the series, but he lauded their response.

"It was a fantastic effort to draw the series, not being able to win the Ashes, but there was still pride on the line for the boys and Test Championship points," he told Sky Sports.

"To finish off well and level up the series I think we showed a lot of character.

"Two-two was a fair score. Both teams had their chances to win the series. We certainly did not play as well as we would have liked to."

It wrapped up a busy year at home for England, who went into the Ashes on the back of a remarkable success as Cricket World Cup hosts.

While prepared, Bayliss said hosting both the World Cup and Ashes was even harder than expected.

"For all the coaching staff it has been a long summer," he said.

"We knew it was going to be challenging but having now been through it I'm not sure we realised how hard it would be.

"It was tough and we were so close to both trophies but we will take one."

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."

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."

Tim Paine joked he will enrol on an umpiring course after conceding Australia are having "a mare" with their reviews during the Ashes.

Australia finished day three of the fifth and final Test trailing England by 382 runs. The tourists need to avoid defeat to win the series outright having already retained the urn but endured a challenging day in the field as England closed on 318-8.

Joe Denly was the star for England with 94, though Australia could have dismissed him for considerably fewer runs had they reviewed after Mitchell Marsh struck the opener on the pads.

Denly was given not out on the field but Hawk-Eye showed the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps, as it would later in the innings when Australia again chose not to review after Nathan Lyon hit Jos Buttler, who made a fluent 46, in front.

Asked in a media conference what he can do to improve his judgment, the Australia skipper responded sarcastically: "I'm going to do some umpire school when I get home, I'll enrol in a level three umpiring course and see if I can get them right.

"I'm getting it wrong, I don't know what else to say, we're having a mare. We've got it wrong, we're not deliberately getting together and saying, 'Gee I reckon that's out Gaz, you want to refer it? Nah let's let him keep batting.'

"We're getting it wrong, it happens, it's fast, it's a tough job. As I've said throughout the whole Test series, I've got a new respect for umpiring, particularly in Test cricket because it's a bloody hard job.

"For years players have whinged about umpiring and now we've got it in our hands a little bit and we're finding that it's hard."

Australia appeared tired and frustrated as their long and chastening day in the field dragged on, though Paine had no issues with his side's application on Saturday.

"The last hour of today, our energy is still really good in the field, our bowlers have run in every single day we've asked them to, they've done a fantastic job," added Paine.

"The only thing that's been a little bit disappointing in this Test match is our catching and our referrals."

Joe Denly missed out on a first Test century but the England batsman could still reflect on a "pretty special couple of days" on the field and in his personal life.

Denly fell six runs shy of a hundred on day three of the fifth and final Ashes Test, edging Peter Siddle to Steve Smith in the slips.

However, his 94 still proved crucial in helping England build a massive lead of 382 at The Oval as they look to draw the series after Australia retained the urn at Old Trafford.

The score was the highest of Denly's brief Test career and came after he left the ground on Friday to witness the birth of his second child.

Denly missed the birth of his first child by a few minutes having received a call from his wife early in the morning when he was playing for Kent at Derby.

However, he was there on time to see his wife bring a baby girl into the world and was able to appreciate the big picture despite the disappointment of not reaching three figures.

"I obviously headed back a couple of days ago, fortunate enough to be able to leave early," Denly told a media conference. "I missed the birth of my first child so it was good to get there and see my little girl come into the world, pretty special couple of days.

"It would have been nice to get to that milestone having worked so hard to get into that position, but England are in a very good position, going into day four hopefully we can get a few more runs and put them under pressure."

Asked how much sleep he had been able to get since the arrival of his daughter, Denly said: "Very good last night because I stayed at the hotel, I got about 10 hours I think, the previous night I had about three hours, certainly caught up on that last night."

Denly's position in the team has come under scrutiny during a series in which he has surpassed 50 only three times.

After his hugely valuable effort at The Oval, however, Denly is hopeful of a place in the squad for England's tour of New Zealand.

"I think when you're batting at the top of the order for England there's always that pressure and expectation from England supporters for you to score runs and do well," he added.

"It's been frustrating this series to get starts and not being able to capitalise. I felt pretty good today, it's a very good bowling attack we're coming up against each game, which you expect at Test level but this Australia attack is certainly up there and make you work hard for every single run.

"Hopefully I've impressed the selectors and those guys that pick these winter tours and we'll just have to wait and see."

Joe Denly narrowly missed out on a first Test century but England punished the Australia attack to close day three of the fifth and final Ashes Test with a 382-run lead.

Needing a win to draw the series having already missed out on regaining the urn, England began day three with an advantage of 78 at The Oval.

Denly, whose wife gave birth to their second child on Friday, was the talisman for the hosts as they pressed home that advantage, the right-hander confident and fluent in compiling the highest score of his brief Test career.

The opener stuck 14 fours and a six and combined with Ben Stokes (67) for a crucial third-wicket partnership of 127 to take away any realistic chance the tourists had of winning the match.

Australia face the prospect of having to bat out the majority of the final two days to claim a first series win in England since 2001.

They did, however, deny Denly as the Kent batsman fell six runs shy of his maiden three-figure score in the longest format, though that will come as little solace following a chastening day in the field that ended with England 313-8 and 382 runs ahead.

Denly and opening partner Rory Burns provided an early indication of what was to follow by adding 45 to their overnight total before the latter bottom-edged Nathan Lyon (3-65) behind.

Lyon bolstered Australia's hopes by removing Joe Root cheaply for 21, but England's Headingley hero Stokes provided the ideal partner for Denly.

Their entertaining 221-ball stand saw the duo build an advantage that should prove a match-winning one, though they were each the subject of fortunate reprieves.

Stokes was dropped by Steve Smith and he and Denly, who reached his fourth Test half-century by striking Josh Hazlewood for four, made Australia count the cost of that missed opportunity.

In a theme that developed throughout the day, they consistently dispatched anything pitched wide, while Stokes showed relish in attacking the spin, sweeping Lyon for a four and six in successive deliveries.

He brought up his fifty by smacking a Marnus Labuschagne full toss for six, compounding Australia's frustration after Denly survived an lbw appeal off Mitchell Marsh they elected not to review, Hawkeye showing the ball would have hit the stumps.

Stokes, playing as a specialist batsman due to a shoulder injury, went to a stunning delivery from Lyon that should provide encouragement for England spinner Jack Leach in the final innings.

Denly came up short three overs later when he edged Peter Siddle (2-52) to slip, though his departure did not halt England's momentum.

Jos Buttler ​– who also escaped what should have been a successful claim for lbw – unfurled a series of wondrous cover drives en route to an eye-catching 47. He and Chris Woakes (6) were each dismissed by stunning catches as Australia made late inroads on a difficult day for the tourists.

 

A GAME TOO FAR FOR AUSSIES

The Australia attack, led by Pat Cummins, has had the edge for the majority of the series, but they looked tired, frustrated and out of ideas as England piled on the runs. Perhaps this was a game too far for Cummins and company.

STOKES ROUNDS OFF INCREDIBLE SUMMER

From his World-Cup winning display in arguably the greatest game ever at Lord's to his heroics in the third Test in Leeds, this truly has been the summer of Stokes for England. Though unable to contribute with the ball in this match, the all-rounder was again imperious with the bat in the second innings, and his stand with Denly looks like being one that ensures a drawn series.

MOMENT OF THE DAY

Denly will have been bitterly disappointed not to get to his century, with Siddle earning his reward for applying consistent pressure after he reached the nineties. However, the ovation he received as he left the field was richly deserved following a performance that should do his hopes of retaining a place in the line-up the power of good.

OPTA FACTS

- Ben Stokes has more 50s in this Test series than in any other (4).

- Stokes has surpassed 400 Ashes 2019 runs - the only England batsman to do so.

- Joe Root has averaged 32.5 in this Ashes; only once before has he recorded a lower rate in a multi-game home Test series (v Sri Lanka, 2016 - 21.8).

- Only the wicketkeepers have claimed more catches than Steve Smith (12) in the series.

- Only Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings have scored more Test runs as an opener for England since Andrew Strauss' retirement than Rory Burns.

Eddie Jones is pleased at how quickly England have acclimatised to life in Japan as they prepare to start the "serious preparation" for their Rugby World Cup opener.

The 2003 winners are set up at a training base in Miyazaki ahead of this year's tournament, though the 31-man squad have been given the chance to do a variety of other activities before the focus switches back to rugby.

They visited a local school during the week, with some players trying their hand at archery, while Jones has allowed them the opportunity to relax as they settle into their new surroundings.

Still, the Australian coach has at times needed to restrict his players from doing too much work in training, wary of a potentially long campaign ahead.

"The players have adjusted really well, really positive. There is a good feeling within the camp," Jones - who was in charge of the Japan national team at the previous World Cup - told the media.

"Everyone is ready to start work and we have actually had to pull players back because they have wanted to work harder.

"We have had a variety of activities on and off the field and I think they feel like they have adapted to the environment as well as they can. Now they are ready to begin the serious preparation for the World Cup.

"The players have a number of opportunities to do different things; they can go and play golf, we have been down the beach on Friday. We have got good training facilities so it is a place where you can prepare to win and that is why we came here."

England take on Tonga on September 22 but will be without prop Mako Vunipola and wing Jack Nowell for their opening fixture.

The Pool C clash with the United States that follows four days later is also going to come too soon for the injured duo, though Jones is hopeful they both may be available for the game against Argentina, which takes place in Tokyo on October 5.

"They are going really well and we are really pleased with their progress," Jones replied, when asked for fitness updates on Vunipola and Nowell.

"We have targeted for both of those guys to be available for the third or fourth game and we are pretty happy with their progress at this stage."

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.

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