Ashes 2019: First day of third Test blighted by rain and bad light

By Sports Desk August 22, 2019

England's bid to level the Ashes at Headingley was hampered by rain and bad light at Headingley as Australia's batsmen faced just 18 overs in the first two sessions of the third Test.

The hosts, 1-0 down in the five-match series, had inserted their opponents under gloomy skies after winning the toss in Leeds, yet play was delayed for 80 minutes due to showers, and only four overs were possible before the inclement weather returned.

During that time, however, Jofra Archer made the early breakthrough by drawing the edge of the recalled Marcus Harris (8), whose opening partner David Warner lived a charmed life, particularly against the impressive Stuart Broad.

Play resumed again at 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) and Broad eventually got his reward, Usman Khawaja (8) given out following England's review when his bat brushed the ball en route to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow's gloves.

The players were forced off once more due to further rain and only 3.1 overs had been bowled when proceedings were halted again, this time due to bad light.

Warner, who was unbeaten on 26 having been out for single figures in each of his previous four innings in the series, appeared only too happy to depart, though England's players were less impressed as he and Marnus Labuschagne (7 not out) walked off while the umpires checked the light.

The latest interruption meant tea was taken at 16:10 on a frustrating opening day.

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    England have earned the right to be considered among the favourites for the Rugby World Cup, according to Lawrence Dallaglio.

    Eddie Jones' side, along with top-ranked Ireland, Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales and Rugby Championship winners South Africa, have been tipped as the most likely sides to challenge holders New Zealand in Japan.

    England crashed out of their home World Cup at the first hurdle in 2015 but will aim to make amends this time around.

    They start their campaign against Tonga on Sunday, before facing the United States, Argentina and France, with Jones' men having lost just twice – both times against Wales – in 2019.

    Dallaglio lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 and sees no reason why England cannot go on to claim rugby's top prize once more.

    "They've set the bar high," the former England captain told Omnisport, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, Official Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2019.

    "There's always expectation with England in any sport, particularly rugby. We've got a history in rugby of doing well and I think they've earned that right quite frankly.

    "I think the progression under Jones has been there right the way from 2015 when he declared he didn't feel we had enough world-class players.

    "But I think on that journey over the last four years, you look at the team now and it's packed full of top-class international rugby players who have won Grand Slams, they've won the title a few times and domestic and European honours. So I think we can rightly go into this World Cup in Japan cautiously optimistic.

    "They know they are capable of beating any of the sides in the world as they showed in Dublin in the Six Nations, as they showed in the first half against New Zealand and as they've shown in games more recently against Ireland.

    "We're contenders, we're challengers and New Zealand are the team to beat. But we've got a chance."

    Pressed on what else England need to do to prove their credentials, Dallaglio conceded a World Cup triumph may be required.

    "How do you measure success in a side? It's what you win, tangibly," he added.

    "This England team have a won a couple of Slams, they've equalled the world record for international victories under Jones, so I think the one thing they need to do is win a World Cup.

    "To do that away from home would be some achievement. I'm really excited about their prospects, I'm looking forward to it. It's wide open."

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: England v Tonga Rugby World Cup 2019: England v Tonga

    Eddie Jones stressed the importance of England getting their tactics spot on against a "ferocious" Tonga outfit in their Rugby World Cup opener on Sunday.

    After a group-stage exit at the last World Cup, England go into their tournament bow in Sapporo expected to be among the top challengers to holders New Zealand this time around.

    The 2003 champions won three of their four warm-up matches after coming second in the Six Nations and will contest a competitive Pool C that contains Argentina, France and United States as well as their initial opponents.

    "The focus this week has been about getting right for Tonga," head coach Jones said ahead of the match.

    "We have had a good seven days in Japan where we have acclimatised really well. Now it is about putting in a game plan against Tonga and it is important to be tactically right. We know they are going to be ferocious and full of pride and passion. 

    "They are a side if they get a bit of momentum they can be very dangerous and are well-coached by Toutai Kefu. We will need to be at our best.

    "There is a good feeling about the place - I don't think there is anyone who isn't excited about getting out there."

    George Ford will start at fly-half for England, with Owen Farrell captain at inside centre. Joe Marler is at loose-head prop with Mako Vunipola out.

    Billy Vunipola, though, will line up against Tonga 20 years after his father and uncle represented the Pacific islanders against England in a World Cup contest.

    This will be the third meeting between the teams, with the previous two – both at World Cups – having been won by England in convincing fashion with a combined score of 137-30.

    England are looking for a seventh straight win in a Rugby World Cup opener and have not lost one since a defeat to New Zealand back in 1991.

    The omens do not look great for Tonga, who have won only three of their last 10 World Cup encounters and come into the event with just one win from their last seven Test outings.

    Distinguished former Australia international Kefu leads a squad that retains only four of the 23 players who lined up in their last World Cup match against New Zealand in 2015.

    One of that quartet is Kurt Morath, the country's all-time leading points scorer with 340 and one of seven English-based players in the team. 

    Key front-rower and the heaviest player in World Cup history, Ben Tameifuna, returns to the XV after being rested from a chastening 92-7 loss to the All Blacks two weeks ago.
     

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    England – Ben Youngs 

    Ben Youngs, 30, will earn his 90th cap and become the first scrum-half to play in three World Cups for England.

    His experience will be vital with England naming a XV that is their second-youngest ever at a World cup, including flankers Tom Curry and Sam Underhill. Youngs scored a try in his last Test outing against Italy this month.

    Tonga - Nasi Manu

    Nasi Manu has been named among Tonga's replacements and if he takes to the field it will be an emotional moment. The number eight did not play for club Benetton or his country in 2018 and could play his first Test since recovering from cancer, having undergone months of chemotherapy.

    "I had tears just then," he said after Tonga's welcome ceremony. "I don't think anybody knows just how much I have been through to get here. Not only the surgery and chemotherapy, but also the physical battle to get myself in good enough shape." 


    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - England have won only two of their last five games at Rugby World Cups, including a 60-3 triumph over Uruguay in their most recent fixture.

    - England have surpassed 40 points scored in a game on three occasions thus far in 2019; the last time they did so more times in a calendar year was in 2003 (7), including two instances in their triumphant 2003 campaign.

    - No player has scored more Test tries thus far in 2019 than England flyer Jonny May, whose six tries are level with German Kessler Lordon (Uruguay) and Joe Taufete'e (USA).

    - Siale Piutau's next appearance will be his 40th in Test rugby for Tonga, becoming just the fourth Tongan to reach the mark.

    - Kurt Morath (73) has scored more points at the Rugby World Cup than any other player for Tonga, including a 28-point haul during the group stage of the 2015 tournament.

  • England all-rounder Moeen taking break from Test cricket England all-rounder Moeen taking break from Test cricket

    Moeen Ali has requested a break from Test cricket after being dropped from the England team and losing his all-format central contract.

    The all-rounder had been contracted by England for all formats since 2014-15 but it was confirmed on Friday he had only received a white-ball deal for 2019-20.

    Th news came after Moeen was left out of the squad for the second Ashes Test in August, having taken 3-172 and scored four with the bat across both innings of a humbling opening defeat to Australia.

    It was revealed at the time Moeen would look to spend some time "recharging" before making his county return for Worcestershire.

    But having starred in guiding reigning T20 Blast champions Worcestershire to a second successive Finals Day, he plans to prolong his Test absence.

    "It's just to get away from it a little bit. I feel like I want to enjoy my batting and this will give me a bit of a break," Moeen told ESPNcricinfo.

    "I want to spend some time with the family. I've been playing for England for five years and it's been quite tough.

    "The intensity is obviously higher in Test cricket so this is just to give me a break and then we will see what happens after that.

    "I'm not ruling out playing Test cricket in the future. I've had long chats and thought about it quite a lot. I just want to give myself a bit of time to refresh my batteries and see where it goes after that."

    England captain Joe Root stated in August that the first Ashes Test was "certainly not the last we'll see of [Moeen]".

    Moeen has taken 181 wickets across 60 Tests, but Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men's cricket, has no issue with his period of indefinite leave.

    "For all the guys, not just Moeen, it's been a really challenging summer," Giles said.

    "A World Cup and an Ashes back-to-back has had a massive effect on many of these guys psychologically, as much as physically.

    "Some of those guys are still carrying [these issues] - one of them being Moeen.

    "His experience in the first Test wasn't a great one, but that's cricket. He's has been a great servant for his team. That's why I encouraged him to leave that option open to come back.

    "He might just need to go away and freshen up. But he's been a really good servant for this team and he's still relatively young."

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