Pick of the day
Kevin Pietersen and Michael Clarke were the key players on the final day of the Ashes series
By Adam Norman. Last Updated: 26/08/13 9:09am
Michael Clarke making sure the umpires made the right decision late in the day
After the miserable rain of Saturday came one of the most dramatic days of cricket this summer.
England were barely halfway through their first innings at the start of the day but by the end almost 30,000 people were riveted to the edge of their seats as the hosts closed in on victory.
It wasn't to be though as the fading light meant the umpires were compelled by the ICC rules to take the players from the field with England just 21 runs short of victory.
It was Australia captain Michael Clarke's sporting declaration on 111-6 that set up a dramatic finale to the series but the tourists were never on course to claim a surprise win in the dead rubber.
England's batsmen were quickly into their stride chasing 227 in 44 overs, none more so than Kevin Pietersen who really set the run-chase alight with a bar-clearing half century that showed the enigmatic player at his very best.
A record 447 runs were scored on the final day of the match, the result of which meaning England move up to second in the ICC world rankings, with Australia dropping to fifth.
For the Aussies, they can hope to gather themselves for revenge this winter but for now, we look back at the pick of the final day's play in this Ashes series.
Pietersen lifts the crowd
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. It has been said of Pietersen many times and it looked for all the world as though he would lead England to a famous win at his beloved Oval. Fans weren't quite sure whether the run-chase was really on until both Alastair Cook and Joe Root fell, bringing the mercurial Surrey batsman to the crease at 86-2. But from the outset Pietersen looked up for the challenge, crashing the ball to all parts of the ground in the fastest half-century by an England players in an Ashes series, from 36 balls with nine fours. He was tamed somewhat by the introduction of James Faulker and Shane Watson and his dismissal for 62 made victory less inevitable than it once seemed.
Clarke's sporting declaration
He may not have won the support of the Oval crowd but the Australia captain should take plenty of credit for setting up a brilliant finale to the series. Clarke could have batted England out of it but his tea-time declaration gave both sides a sporting chance of victory. However, things didn't go his way as the hosts crept their way towards their victory target, with bowling and field-setting difficult in such unique circumstances. He was quite vocal in encouraging the umpires to pull the players off as the light deteriorated, drawing the ire from umpire Aleem Dar, but that shouldn't take away from Clarke's role in the day's proceedings.
Importance of the Ashes
Ashes legend Shane Warne told Sky Sports that an Ashes series can define a player's career, and that is what's is so special about the rivalry between England and Australia. "It's the ultimate. I remember being here in 1989 and watched Australia finally regain the Ashes and wanting to be a part of it. With bat or ball you wanted to give it everything you've got and you always found something extra." Ian Botham, who made his name in the 1981 series, agreed that success in an Ashes is a proud moment. "It can change your life, the things we achieved it makes you very proud to represent your country. When you play Australia you want to win but you want to win abroad more than anything. These guys will want to go down there and repeat what they did there last time."
Ashes Zone - Who will go to Oz?
Three England captains - Andrew Strauss, Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain - run through the likely tourists for the tour to Australia in three months' time. The 13-man nucleus is pretty much set in stone for the panelists, with Jonny Bairstow and Chris Tremlett in that group, along with forgotten man Steve Finn. Talk of the reserve batsman turned to James Taylor, with Strauss picking him to travel Down Under. "I think you need a third opener on standby but he doesn't need to be part of the touring party and instead you need someone who can bat between three and six, and Taylor fits the bill. He has a phenomenal record, while we don't know enough about him to discard him and this is an opportunity to see more of him."
You can relive all the best action from Friday by reading our interactive commentary from The Oval. Alternatively you can view a gallery of the day's best images or watch highlights on the Ashes Events Centre