Day four of second Ashes Test – Odds stacked against desperate England

By Sports Desk June 30, 2023

Under-pressure England desperately need to land some blows on the fourth morning of the second Ashes Test following a dispiriting third day at Lord’s.

Rain spared Ben Stokes’ side of any further punishment when it arrived at 5.10pm on Friday with Australia on 130 for two, a lead of 221 runs.

England had been skittled for 325 in the morning session after they resumed on 278 for four with Harry Brook and Ben Stokes unable to live with a terrific opening spell from Mitchell Starc, who finished with three for 88.

Usman Khawaja then continued his rich vein of form with 58 not out at the top of the order and will aim to move Australia’s lead into uncharted territory alongside first innings centurion Steve Smith on day four.

View from the dressing roomNo Lyon, no problem!

 

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When Nathan Lyon arrived at Lord’s on crutches for day three, England’s eyes should have lit up but the absence of Australia’s frontline spinner with a “significant” calf strain only contributed towards the hosts being skittled out in 14 overs.

Australia captain Pat Cummins stuck with the short-pitched plan that worked against England’s aggression in the evening session on day two and played his part in sending Brook and Jonny Bairstow back to the pavilion.

With the tail blow away in quick time thanks to more bumpers, after Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Joe Root had got out in similar fashion on day two, England can expect more short-pitched bowling in their second innings.

Broad blow least of his worries

Stuart Broad took a nasty blow to his jaw in the morning session from a Josh Hazlewood bouncer, but after a concussion check was able to carry on. While slightly shaken, Broad was more unhappy after tea when his loud appeal for lbw against Marnus Labuschagne fell on deaf ears.

Broad’s belief that the Australian was out saw him barely appeal and even though he was left flabbergasted by the not out decision, he was even more perplexed at captain Stokes’ decision to not review.

It proved a poor call by Stokes because after the next delivery Broad looked up at the TV screens inside the ground and saw ball tracker show his ball would have hit leg stump. It capped a frustrating day for England even if Labuschagne was out 14 runs later.

Marathon man eyes record

Labuschagne may not be at the crease, but Khawaja is and could have an Ashes record in his sights after a marathon knock at Edgbaston.

After reaching the end of day three on 58 not out from 123 balls, Khawaja has taken the total number of deliveries he has faced in the Ashes onto 711. The record after the opening two matches of the series is Bill Brown’s tally of 999 balls faced back in the 1938 series.

Bettering that looks unlikely, but Khawaja will certainly fancy his chances after he fronted up to 321 in the first innings in Birmingham.

Starc, Stokes, gone!

Stokes looked to have played the perfect captain’s knock on day two, digging in for 57 balls after England’s mini-wobble to ensure he was there for the third morning, but he lasted one ball on Friday and it set the tone.

In fairness, Stokes could do little to a beauty from Starc, who squared up the England captain and found the outside edge with Cameron Green doing the rest in the slip corden.

Stokes would have cursed his luck and England’s day never got any better with a poor batting display followed up by another wicketless new ball period. Josh Tongue did make the much-needed breakthrough and Broad bowled impressively, but with Australia holding a 221-run lead with eight wickets in hand, the odds are stacked against the hosts.

Angeball meet Bazball

New Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou spent his final day before his work officially begins with the Premier League club by taking in some Ashes cricket at Lord’s. It would have been intriguing to know what the one-time Melbourne native made of the day’s play.

Ex-Australia manager Postecoglou has developed a strong reputation in football with a bold and aggressive style of play that has won many trophies, but does not differ much from what England are trying to achieve under Stokes and Brendon McCullum with their famed ‘Bazball’ approach.

Perhaps Postecoglou would feel more at home playing for the hosts than the more pragmatic tourists. Nevertheless, he starts work at Tottenham on Saturday and no doubt the Ashes will be on the training ground TVs.

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