Day five of first Ashes Test: Thrilling finale in store at Edgbaston

By Sports Desk June 19, 2023

England and Australia are poised for a thrilling conclusion to the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston after Stuart Broad rocked the tourists with two huge wickets late on day four.

Broad stepped up deep in the evening session to dismiss Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith – the top two Test batters in the world rankings – and leave the tourists 107 for three chasing 281.

Despite the threat of rain on the final morning there should be enough time to avert a draw, with England hunting seven wickets and their rivals needing 174 runs to get over the line.

Memories of ‘the greatest series’ loom large

The fervour of the build-up to this series drew comparisons to the unforgettable series 18 years ago, when England reclaimed the urn after an 18-year wait. Key to that result was a nail-biting two-run win here in Birmingham, where Steve Harmison had Michael Kasprowicz caught behind just as Australia looked to have won it. The target that day was 282, just one more than today’s magic number. The tourists were much worse off on that occasion, ending on 175 for eight overnight, but could it possibly go as close again?

What they saidTweet of the day

Comedian and author Mark Steel attempts to paint a picture of ‘Bazball’ for the uninitiated.

Joe Root 2.0

Joe Root’s knock on the fourth morning exemplified his willingness to adapt towards a more high-risk, high-reward style under the current regime. He surprised everyone in the stadium by attempting to reverse scoop Pat Cummins over slip from the first ball of the day. The shot did not come off on that occasion but in the next over, he hit Scott Boland for six and four in successive deliveries with the same stroke. Root’s innings of 46 in 55 balls featured five boundaries and ended in unexpected fashion…

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In England’s second innings, Root came charging down the pitch to Nathan Lyon and was out stumped for the first time in a career spanning 131 games and 240 innings. In the space of three months, Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey has now stumped Root and Virat Kohli for the first time in their careers.

England target Boland

Scott Boland was a thorn in England’s side in the 2020/21 Ashes in Australia, picking up six wickets for seven in a stunning debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He finished the series with 18 wickets in three Tests and arrived at Edgbaston with an impeccable record. His effectiveness has been built around his meanness – with an economy rate of 2.31 prior to this week. England appear to have made a point of knocking him off stride, scoring at 5.61 against him over the course of the Test. It was telling that Australian wicket-keeper Alex Carey began to stand up to the stumps to Boland to prevent the English batters from charging down the pitch.

Top five fourth-innings chases at EdgbastonMo blow

The final day of a Test frequently means bringing a spinner into play but concerns abound about Moeen Ali’s index finger – the digit he uses to spin the ball which is blistered because of his increased workload in his first red-ball appearance since September 2021. The all-rounder was described as “fine” by team-mate Stuart Broad but Moeen bowled seven unexceptional overs on Monday. His effectiveness is set to be tested by his problematic finger and will place question marks over his involvement through the series. There is just eight days’ rest between the end of this Test and the start of the next one at Lord’s, a match he will be doubtful to play unless the injury settles down.

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    Yorkshire, who have hosted the Northern Diamonds and can now expect their top players to head elsewhere in search of the best – and best-paid – cricket opportunities, had earlier tabled their own statement.

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