England enjoy good morning with ball and bat in crunch Old Trafford Test

By Sports Desk July 20, 2023

England made an encouraging start with bat and ball as they attempted to take control of their must-win Ashes Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

The hosts snapped up Australia’s last two wickets as the tourists bowed out for 317, and recovered well from the early loss of Ben Duckett to reach 61 for one at lunch.

Moeen Ali’s experimental promotion to number three was beginning to pay off, with the all-rounder reeling off five boundaries on his way to 31 not out and Zak Crawley was unbeaten on 26.

The growing sense that the game was unfolding in England’s favour was strengthened when Cameron Green had Crawley lbw, only for ball-tracking to show the ball disappearing past the leg stump.

With plenty of rain forecast over the weekend, the home side know they must move fast to set the game up and land the victory they need to keep the series alive, but after four sessions the building blocks are in place.

They enjoyed the perfect start, hometown hero James Anderson striking with the first ball of the day following 17 wicketless overs on Wednesday.

It was far from his best delivery, served up a fraction full outside off stump, but it got the desired response as Pat Cummins lifted a gentle catch straight to Ben Stokes at point to make it 299 for nine.

Anderson, bowling from the end that bears his name, took the acclaim in what could yet be his last appearance at this ground.

England looked to have wrapped things up in the next over, number 11 Josh Hazlewood fencing Chris Woakes to slip, but the TV umpire called a marginal no-ball as the seamer nudged the line.

Australia cashed in another 17 runs but Woakes’ hopes of a first five-for against Australia were only on pause, Hazlewood clipping to third slip to end the innings.

The English reply began with four off the first delivery, Crawley brushing Starc fine off his hip to keep the cheers coming from the stands.

It was not long before they turned to groans though, Duckett lasting only six balls as he pressed forward and nicked Starc tamely into Alex Carey’s gloves.

That meant an early appearance for Moeen, who promptly threw his hands at the fourth delivery he faced and hit fresh air. Crawley was also bested when he edged Hazlewood just in front of the cordon, but the attacking instincts of the pair began to pay off.

Crawley whipped Hazlewood smartly through midwicket as his timing returned and Moeen hit the boundary ropes four times in eight deliveries as he unfurled a couple of picturesque drives and took his career tally beyond 3,000 Test runs.

Green thought he had Crawley when umpire Joel Wilson raised his finger, but a wise referral spared the opener and brought one of the biggest roars of the day.

Crawley signed off the session with a sweet cover drive off Cummins, leaving Australia with questions to answer in the afternoon.

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