England miss out on Deaf Ashes
Australia retained the Deaf Ashes after batting out over half the final day of the one-off Test at Geelong Grammar School, near Melbourne, to deny England victory.
The hosts began the last day of three precariously placed, with a lead of 39 and five wickets in hand, but their sixth-wicket pair took advantage of favourable conditions to bat beyond lunch.
Captain Kym Daley and Ryan Churchyard, who together added four late yesterday, combined for a further 120 runs today as Australia were all out for 246 with Stephen George taking 5-72.
That left the tourists a stiff target of 216 in 37 overs to win the May/Craven Trophy for the first time since its inception in the early 1990s.
They suffered an early blow when skipper and first-innings centurion Umesh Valjee departed cheaply and only fellow opener James Schofield got in thereafter.
He finished unbeaten on 73 in a total of 129 for seven as England had to settle for their second consecutive drawn Test series against Australia.
For the first time in the game the sun was beating down as Daley and Churchyard resumed on six and three respectively this morning.
They faced some accurate bowling from Jimmy Dixon and Paul Allen early on but, as the wicket got flatter, batting became easier and the duo began to take the game away from England.
A couple of run-out chances were missed and a sharp catch was dropped at short-leg as Churchyard and Daley’s alliance stood at 93 by lunch with Australia 128 ahead.
George, who bowled a 21-over spell yesterday, was brought back into the attack after the interval but the stubborn pair refused the budge.
George finally broke through when a tired-looking Churchyard played back to full-length ball and was bowled for 78 runs from 265 deliveries, 102 of which he faced yesterday, featuring nine fours.
His partnership with Daley was a new Australia Deaf record for the sixth wicket.
With England given fresh hope, George soon took his fifth wicket by having Brad Trudgett caught behind.
The tourists’ prospects brightened when Allen cleaned up the tail by removing Matthew Shenton for 11, Tim Regan for 16 and Mark Theodossiou first ball.
That left Daley unbeaten on 63 from 202 balls, including seven fours.
England’s requirement of almost a run a ball was in stark contrast to a scoring rate of around two an over throughout the game.
Their prospects were dented when Shenton bowled Valjee with the score on 13 before Schofield and Matt Everett had to make do with quick singles as they were unable to pierce the infield.
Everett fell to Regan and the required rate began to climb as Schofield and Chris Hughes struggled to hit boundaries.
Hughes was run out for 12 and Daley had Darrell Sykes caught at mid-off before Andrew Wood, Allen and George perished to Regan in quick succession as England were reduced to 101 for seven with just 13 overs left.
With their team’s chances of victory all but gone, Schofield and Stefan Pichowski ensured the tourists would at least avoid defeat in game they were favourites to win 24 hours earlier.