The 2019 Ashes certainly lived up to the pre-series hype.

England and Australia had no shortage of talent on display but also glaring holes in both sides were exposed over the course of five intriguing battles that provided plenty of twists and turns.

There were brilliant exhibitions of fast bowling. There were centuries (thanks largely to Steve Smith!). There was a fairy-tale finish for the ages, too, but in the end no outright winner.

Australia retained the Ashes but England's victory at The Oval in the fifth and final chapter means a 2-2 result, the first series draw between the rivals since 1972.

Here, Omnisport picks out the key moments as we recap each Test.

 

AUSTRALIA EIGHT DOWN, ANDERSON OUT

Tim Paine’s decision to bat first in the series opener appeared foolish when his side slipped to 122-8 on the opening day Edgbaston. Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes did the damage, but James Anderson was only able to bowl four overs before leaving the field.

His absence was keenly felt as, with Smith beginning his one-man crusade against the England attack, Australia’s last two wickets added 166 runs. Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon showed the supposed batsmen how it should be done in bowler-friendly conditions, supporting their former captain, who finished up with 144 as a potentially disastrous first innings was transformed into a competitive total.

Anderson, meanwhile, only appeared again in the game to bat due to a calf problem. He attempted a comeback in time to play at his home ground of Old Trafford later in the series, but a setback on second XI duty for Lancashire scuppered that plan, meaning England's all-time leading wicket-taker in the longest format sent down just 24 deliveries against Australia.

 

ARCHER MAKES AN INSTANT IMPACT 

With Anderson out, England handed a debut to Jofra Archer for the second Test at Lord's. The pace bowler had been a key component of the one-day squad that won the Cricket World Cup on home soil earlier in the year but warned the public not to expect "miracles" in his Test bow.

There was no miracle – Archer was not quite able to bowl England to victory in the final session of a game that had seen the entire first day wiped out by rain – but his performance caused quite a stir.

He claimed five wickets in the match, struck down Smith with a seriously quick bouncer when the batsman was seemingly on course for a third successive triple-figure knock and, subsequently, played his part in Test history as the first concussion substitute was used. Marnus Labuschagne was laid low by a delivery from Archer too, yet beat the count to carry on batting and make a crucial half-century to secure a draw.

 

HEADINGLEY MIRACLE - VOL II

At a venue where Ian Botham famously salvaged a seemingly lost cause to secure an unlikely Ashes victory in the 1981 series, Ben Stokes produced a performance at Headingley that will see him forever remembered in crick folklore.

Bowled out for just 67 in their first innings, England's valiant bid to reach a tough victory target of 359 appeared set to fall short when they slipped from 245-4 to 286-9 on the fourth afternoon. Yet Stokes refused to give in, choosing to go on the attack with a display of hitting that, with each boundary, raised the possibility of a stunning result.

The left-hander made 135 not out with eight sixes to drag his team over the line, aided by last-man Jack Leach surviving 17 balls and contributing a quick single that turned him into a cult hero. Australia failed to remain composed amid the carnage, wasting their final review and butchering a run-out chance when Lyon somehow fumbled a tame throw to the bowler's end.

 

SMITH AT THE DOUBLE

Having missed the defeat in Leeds due to concussion, Smith returned as the series shifted across the Pennines to Manchester – and made up for lost time with another telling contribution with the bat.  England's plans to rough him up with the short ball failed to pay off as the right-hander made his third Ashes double hundred, in the process taking his tally past 500 runs for a third successive series.

Given a life when dismissed off a no ball from spinner Leach, the former skipper finished up with 211 out of Australia's 497-8 declared. England avoided having to follow-on in reply but 82 from Smith second time around left Root's side needing another Herculean fourth-innings performance to keep the series alive.

While Stokes failed to fire again, it appeared the great escape could be on when Leach combined with Somerset colleague Craig Overton to push the game into the final hour. Fearing another opportunity was set to go begging, Paine turned to Labuschagne's leg spin. The move paid off as he dismissed Leach, opening the door just wide enough for the excellent Josh Hazlewood to wrap up victory in fading light as the tourists moved 2-1 ahead.

 

A PAINE-FUL DECISION & JOE 90

Perhaps it was the fact the urn was already retained, almost akin to a last-day-of-school situation, that led to captain Paine opting to bowl first after winning the toss. England failed to fully capitalise on the opportunity, posting 294, but Smith only (only!) made 82 as Archer's second six-wicket haul in the series secured a useful first-innings lead.

Following a dash home after day one to see the birth of his daughter, England opener Joe Denly celebrated the new arrival with a Test-best score of 94, helping to set Australia plenty in the final innings on a worn surface.

Broad dismissed David Warner for a seventh time in 10 innings – the opener finished the series with 95 runs (only Hazlewood posted a lower average for the visitors than the left-hander's 9.50) – and when Smith fell into England’s leg-side trap, it was just a matter of when, not if, the hosts would triumph. Matthew Wade went down swinging with a hundred, but the topsy-turvy series ended level.

Ben Stokes suggested an Ashes series draw was a fair result and was not interested in entertaining "what ifs" for England after they beat Australia in the fifth Test.

England ran out 135-run winners at the Oval on Sunday to earn a stalemate, yet their hopes of claiming the urn had been ended a week earlier in defeat at Old Trafford.

The triumph in the last Test was the first time England had got the better of a full-strength Australia, with the outstanding Steve Smith limited to just 23 in his second innings.

But Stokes did not want to reflect on how the series might have panned out had they produced the same level of performance earlier in the series.

"I don't think you can ever look back and say, 'What if this happened', 'What if we'd done this differently'," he said, having been named England's player of the series by Australia coach Justin Langer.

"I think it's just been a great series of cricket, to be honest. It's ebbed and flowed in certain areas throughout every game. I think that's shown in the end result with it being 2-2.

"There's been two very evenly matched teams and two very competitive teams, as Ashes cricket always is. I think everyone's been treated to another great Ashes series."

Stokes handed England a historic one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley with a remarkable unbeaten knock of 135.

 

But having earlier suggested it would mean little if England did not regain the Ashes, the all-rounder indicated he still felt that way.

"It'll probably be something to look back on in a few years' time," he said.

"You know the saying that you'd probably give it all back if it meant we ended up lifting the urn at the end. But I'll come to that innings in a few years' time."

Stokes said he and the team are "100 per cent" behind captain Joe Root, while he picked out Rory Burns and Joe Denly for praise at the top of the order.

"Everyone who has come into the Test team has put their hand up and shown they can compete at the highest level," he said.

As well as Burns and Denly, Jofra Archer was another breakout star, collecting the player of the match honours in the fifth Test after taking 6-62 in Australia's first innings.

Archer, who shone on his debut in the second Test but later lacked consistency, said: "I went wicketless in two innings as well, you know?

"It's Test cricket for you. One day, it might be there; the next innings, it might not be. You have to keep going.

"There will be good days and there will be bad days. It's not every day I'm going to get a wicket. I might go wicketless for a few innings. I have to keep going. The team will back me up regardless."

Jofra Archer could sense Steve Smith was not at his best at The Oval, where England denied Australia's Ashes hero a fourth three-figure score of a remarkable series.

Smith, who revealed after his first innings 80 he has been struggling with flu, was trapped lbw by Chris Woakes on day two.

Even when not at full health, the right-hander still provided the most impressive resistance of any member of the Australia batting line-up, which wilted in response to England's 294 all out.

The tourists may have already retained the urn but Archer's six-for restricted them to 225, with England surviving four overs before the close to take a lead of 78 runs into day three.

Asked in a media conference about England's satisfaction in getting Smith out for what, by his standards, was a low score, Archer replied: "It's weird, every time he bats, I don't know what it is, he literally cannot get out.

"When he plays a bad shot the ball just lands in no-man's land. Obviously he's a good batter, he's got a good temperament but the ball just never goes to hand.

"He didn't look himself today, he didn't look as nailed on, he didn't seem the same way. 

"We know he's going to miss one. We always felt we had a chance."

Archer took the last wicket of the innings courtesy of a stunning one-handed catch from Rory Burns to dismiss Peter Siddle.

"When I saw him hit the ball I thought it was four to be honest, when I saw it going near him I didn't think it was going to carry either," said Archer of that final wicket.

"Special catch, even better to get us off the field. Sometimes if you don't get them out tonight they come back tomorrow and probably get another 30 or 40 runs and the lead isn't big.

"I don't think we should underestimate how good that catch was, especially with the position it's put us in."

Little stock will be put in England drawing the series to those outside the camp, but Archer still believes there is plenty at stake in the final Test.

"It would mean a lot for the team [to draw the series], there's still a lot to play for," Archer added. "There's still the Test championship and our own personal game, although the Ashes are lost we've still got a lot to play for."

David Warner set an unwanted record when he failed again on day two of the final Ashes Test, but Australia talisman Steve Smith was unbeaten at lunch after Jofra Archer's double strike at The Oval.

Mitchell Marsh (5-46) claimed a maiden five-wicket Test haul and Pat Cummins (3-84) dismissed Jos Buttler for 70 to bowl England out for 294 early on a sunny Friday in London.

The tourists, striving for a 3-1 series win after retaining the urn at Old Trafford, were in trouble on 14-2, with opener Warner and Marcus Harris falling to the excellent Archer.

Warner made only five to become the first opener to fall for eight single-digit scores in a Test series, but the prolific Smith (14 not out) and Marnus Labuschagne (32no) saw Australia through to 55-2 at the end of the morning session.

Buttler added only six runs to his overnight score before playing on to a delivery from the outstanding Cummins after England resumed on 271-8.

Jack Leach (21) also chopped to end the innings and give recalled all-rounder Marsh, who stated "most of Australia hates me" after taking four wickets on the opening day, his best Test figures.

Archer then steamed in to see the back of both of Australia's struggling openers, Warner given out caught behind following a review after Marais Erasmus did not detect an edge, and Harris (three) snicking to Ben Stokes at second slip.

Stuart Broad was also on the money with the new ball, but Labuschagne showed good judgement and scored boundaries on both sides of the wicket after weathering an early storm.

Smith played and missed to Archer on more than one occasion and Sam Curran probed with a touch of swing, but there was more than a sense of deja vu as fidgety former Australia captain Smith set himself ominously.

Mitchell Marsh claimed a maiden five-wicket Test haul as Australia bowled England out for 294 before David Warner failed again early in the morning session on day two of the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

Recalled all-rounder Marsh struck four times as England collapsed on the opening day and ended the innings on a sunny Friday, with Jack Leach playing on for 21.

Marsh, who stated "most of Australia hates me" after the close of play on Thursday, finished with Test-best figures of 5-46, while Pat Cummins (3-84) removed Jos Buttler for 70 after England resumed on 271-8.

Buttler also chopped on attempting to launch Cummins down the ground to fall, having struck three sixes and seven fours, with England striving to salvage a 2-2 draw after the tourists retained the urn at Old Trafford.

Warner's miserable run continued when he was given out caught behind flashing at Jofra Archer for only five, Joe Root successfully reviewing after umpire Marais Erasmus did not detect an edge.

Two wickets apiece from Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer gave England a glimmer of hope but Steve Smith was unbeaten at tea with Australia building a substantial lead on day four of the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia bowled England out for 301 after lunch to take a first-innings lead of 196, Mitchell Starc (3-80) and Pat Cummins (3-60) doing the damage on Saturday.

The magnificent Broad and Archer gave England a chance with brilliant new-ball spells, reducing the tourists to 44-4.

Broad removed David Warner for a third consecutive duck - the sixth time he has dismissed the opener in the series - with the sun out at a raucous Old Trafford. 

First-innings double-centurion Smith was still there at the end of a captivating afternoon session, though, with Australia 63-4, leading by 259 runs and firmly on course for a win that would enable them to keep the urn.

In the morning, Starc cleaned up Jonny Bairstow with the second new ball before claiming the big scalp of Ben Stokes, who edged to Smith at second slip.

Archer and Broad departed either side of lunch and England would have been all out if Australia had any reviews left when Starc trapped Jack Leach in front, only for Marais Erasmus to keep his finger down.

Jos Buttler saved the follow-on by driving Starc for his seventh boundary but Cummins bowled him for 41 - his highest score of the series - to end the innings. 

A fired-up Broad then came steaming in to get the crowd rocking, dismissing Warner yet again lbw and getting Harris in the same fashion - the latter wasting a review.

Archer cranked up the pace to get in on the act, first removing the in-form Marnus Labuschagne - courtesy of another lbw verdict - and then castling Travis Head's middle stump.

Smith was troubled by Broad, but he hung in there once again and was unbeaten along with Matthew Wade at the end of the afternoon session, with Stokes not bowling after hurting his shoulder on day two.

Jofra Archer flattened Steve Smith at Lord's but Australia's masterful talisman delivered what could be a knockout blow to England's hopes of regaining the Ashes after being dropped by the paceman at Old Trafford.

Smith was ruled out of England's astonishing series-levelling win at Headingley with concussion after he was struck by an Archer bouncer in the second Test.

It was Archer who was rattled on day two of the fourth Test in Manchester, though, after failing to grab a caught-and-bowled chance offered by Smith on 65.

Jack Leach also let the batsman off the hook after he had reached an 11th Ashes century, the spinner paying the price for overstepping when he looped up a delivery which Smith edged to Ben Stokes at slip.

Smith had 118 to his name at that point but he was nowhere near finished yet, striding back to make a magnificent 211 before the tourists declared on 497-8. They reduced England to 23-1 by stumps.

If ever proof was needed that fortune favours the brave, it was provided by Smith less than three weeks after being hit on the neck by a searing short ball.

The former captain has had boos ringing in his ears since arriving in England ahead of the Cricket World Cup for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal, which landed him a one-year ban and cost him the captaincy.

Yet a packed Old Trafford crowd rose in appreciation for what they had witnessed when he brought up a third double hundred against England.

Smith saluted all corners of the ground when given another standing ovation following his dismissal to Joe Root, having struck two sixes and 24 fours in the 319 balls he faced.

The irrepressible Smith started the second day looking even more fidgety than his usual hectic self at the crease but was soon toying with England after riding his luck.

He mixed unconventional strokes with glorious drives on both sides of the wicket in another incredible display of skill and application, with Tim Paine also punishing England for two drops by making 58 in a sixth-wicket stand of 145.

Only the great Don Bradman has more Ashes hundreds than Smith, while Jack Hobbs (12) is the solitary Englishman to better the ex-skipper's tally in Tests between the two old rivals.

The domineering right-hander averages 147.25 in his four visits to the crease in his first Test series since serving his suspension.

Smith showed you cannot keep a good man down and the bad news for England is there could be more runs to come, with Australia in a great position to retain the urn.

Steve Smith completed his third century of the Ashes series after being dropped by Jofra Archer as England took just two Australia wickets in the morning session on day two of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Smith was untroubled on a dismal, weather-affected first day in Manchester after missing England's dramatic series-levelling win at Headingley due to concussion.

The former Australia captain made a shaky start on Thursday but punished Archer for failing to take a caught and bowled chance when he was on 65.

Smith, unable to play in Leeds due to a blow inflicted by paceman Archer in the second Test at Lord's, went on to score his 11th Ashes hundred - a tally which only the great Don Bradman has bettered.

The tourists were 245-5 at lunch, with Smith unbeaten on 101 after Stuart Broad (3-47) and Jack Leach removed Travis Head and Matthew Wade respectively.   

Smith was even more fidgety than usual when Australia resumed on 170-3, shuffling around the crease, edging and playing and missing early on.

The world's top-ranked Test batsman had a big stroke of luck when he drove a full toss at Archer, who put him down following through and watched the ball run away for four.

Archer generated extra pace than on day one, but it was Broad who was more threatening and he got the breakthrough by trapping Head (19) leg before. 

Australia were 224-5 when Wade (16) had a rush of blood and was well taken by Joe Root trying to launch Leach over the top following a short rain delay.

By then, Smith looked much more like himself, hitting glorious boundaries on both sides of the wicket and he kissed the Australia badge on his helmet and was given a warm ovation when he reached three figures just before the break.

Stuart Broad cannot wait to see Jofra Archer bowl to Steve Smith in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

The prolific Smith will return to Australia's team in Manchester on Wednesday, having been ruled out of the third Test with concussion after he was struck on the neck by a hostile Archer delivery at Lord's.

Archer's duel with Smith, whose three innings in the series have yielded scores of 144, 142 and 92, made for fascinating viewing, although Australia's star batsman has been keen to make the point he was not dismissed by the Test debutant.

Broad is now excited to witness what happens next, as England aim to build on their series-levelling win at Headingley that owed much to Ben Stokes' heroics.

 

"First thing, it's great Steve is okay and coming back into Test cricket but Test cricket is a brutal sport where countries go hell for leather against each other," Broad was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

"I'm sure when Steve comes in, Jofra will be in [England captain] Joe Root's ear wanting the ball, no doubt about that.

"It was a really tasty bit of cricket at Lord's. Smith was on 80, playing beautifully, and Jofra went from 84mph to 95mph. He was really charging in. That sort of cricket is awesome to watch on the telly or from the stands but when you're stood at mid-on, it's pretty special. Hopefully we can have a battle like that again.

"The dream is someone nicks him [Smith] off first ball and Jofra doesn't get to bowl at him but he doesn't average 60-odd for nothing. There will be a period in this game where those two come together again and - touch wood - I'm on the pitch to view it."

Australia batsman Steve Smith will head to the crease in the fourth Ashes Test still thinking about the Jofra Archer bouncer that left him with concussion, according to Simon Jones.

Smith is expected to return to the tourists' line-up at Old Trafford having missed the second innings at Lord's and their one-wicket loss to England at Headingley last month with a bout of concussion sustained when a short delivery from Archer struck his neck.

The 30-year-old, who remains the series' leading run-scorer despite only playing half of the six innings, refuted the idea Archer has "got the wood over me" last week when he pointed out England's latest Test star "hasn't actually got me out".

However, former England seamer Jones is adamant Smith and the rest of the Australian team will still be thinking about Archer's threat when the two teams renew their rivalry in the fourth Test, which begins on Wednesday.

Asked by Omnisport whether Archer's bouncer would be playing on Smith's mind, Jones replied: "Of course it is.

"He's trying to play it down, as any normal person would. They've had a little bit of banter in the press, always will during an Ashes series. Things get said, but the talking has to be done out there.

"I'm sure Archer if he gets the opportunity to bowl to him he will go after him again. It's natural, that's your job as a fast bowler. You've got to impose yourself on the opposition.

"That will definitely be in the back of Steve Smith's mind, as it will for all the other batters."

With Smith only able to watch on at Headingley, Ben Stokes inspired England to pull off a miracle with an unbeaten century that kept the series alive and dashed Australia's chances of retaining the urn before the final two Tests.

An England victory in Leeds appeared unfathomable when they were rolled for 67 first time around and their top-order failings were evident in the second innings too when they fell to 15-2.

Joe Denly has confirmed the batting order will be rejigged at Old Trafford, where he will be promoted to open and the struggling Jason Roy will drop down to four.

That is a decision that has won the approval of Jones, part of England's Ashes-winning team in 2005.

"I think that's a great move, I think that's the right move," added Jones, who was speaking on behalf of Specsavers, the official Test partner of the England cricket team.

"Jason Roy is immensely talented, I think he's a class, class player. He's facing a very good bowling attack. Yes, he's played the odd shot where he's been a little bit loose but that's the way he plays. If he creams it for four, they'd say, 'What a hell of a shot'. I think give him a go at four.

"To bring in changes now and to change the side is quite dangerous because the harmony they have at the moment, the way they are balancing that side... they are comfortable with each other.

"I think that was a big key for us building up to 2005. We had the same group of players, same 12. So every time you walked into that dressing room, you felt comfortable. And I think that's what England have to do now.

"Denly's class as well. He's starting to hit form. He's getting some more runs, he got 50 in the last game. I do like the look of the pair of them, I think they need to manoeuvre them around a little bit to give them the best opportunity to score runs and go for it."

Jofra Archer feared he had cost England the Ashes when his efforts to match Ben Stokes' big hitting in the third Test came up short.

With just Stuart Broad and Jack Leach to come in the order, Archer appeared to represent England's last realistic hope as they chased a target of 359 to beat Australia and level the series at Headingley.

Archer, the star of the drawn second match at Lord's when on debut, hit three fours and made 15 but was then caught on the boundary by Travis Head to reduce the home side to 286-8.

Leaving Stokes to do the heavy lifting all by himself, Archer thought he had blown England's last chance for glory in Leeds.

"I wanted to make it less hard work for Ben, but I got out," he told reporters. "I thought I had messed the series up - not just the game but the series.

"So I am very relieved that we are still alive and fighting. Your coach always tells you, 'Don't leave it for anyone else'. I tried to do as much of it as I could.

"We have all seen enough cricket to know 80 to win with just one wicket left against the Australian bowling attack...

"We were very grateful to be on the winning side, that is all I can say."

Leach proved to be the unlikely hero to assist Stokes, however, as England pulled off a sensational recovery with their last-wicket pair at the crease.

The hosts won in similarly dramatic fashion in the Cricket World Cup final against New Zealand and Archer believes these narrow victories provide a confidence boost to the players.

"I still watch the World Cup highlights," he said. "But all I can say is that Headingley game was special. When [Nathan] Lyon fumbled the run out, you could hear a heartbeat in the dressing room.

"It just shows our fight. No one rolled over and played dead, everyone wanted to win, even the number 11 was very keen to get stuck in. He (Leach) will be called upon again at some point in the series.

"We got a taste of what it is like to win from nowhere, so I guess we can take that on with us."

England paceman Jofra Archer hit back at Australia batsman Steve Smith as the pair traded jibes ahead of the fourth Ashes Test.

Smith is set to return from a concussion at Old Trafford when the fourth Test begins on Wednesday, in a huge boost for the tourists with the series locked at 1-1.

The star batsman was ruled out of the third Test, which England incredibly won by one wicket, after being hit by an Archer bouncer at Lord's.

Smith reminded fans Archer was yet to get him out during the Ashes and the England paceman offered a response.

"Well, I can't get him out if he wasn't there," he told UK newspapers, via The Guardian.

"But there'll be more than ample time to get him out. I'm not saying I won't get him out but if we don't get him out there's 10 other people we can get out and if he's stranded on 40 that's not helping his team too much.

"He can't do it all himself. We want to win the game. I'm not here to get caught up in a contest with one man. I want to win the Ashes."

Led by Ben Stokes (135 not out), England incredibly chased down a target of 359 to draw level in the series at Headingley.

Archer believes that win is set to give the hosts a psychological advantage for the remainder of the series.

"That's the thing, never get complacent. To be fair, 359 runs is a lot of runs. The crowd started to get on their backs as well, I think they panicked a bit," he said.

"They probably thought they were going to roll us if they got a few quick early wickets but they didn't and I'm glad we showed some resistance because the series isn't over and in the upcoming games I don't think they'll declare now.

"If they do have a chance I don't think they'll be too attacking. If they draw the series they still get to retain the Ashes."

Steve Smith was keen to remind cricket fans that Jofra Archer has not yet taken his wicket in the Ashes while questioning the England paceman's short-ball approach.

A gripping spell between Test debutant Archer and Australia talisman Smith in the second Test at Lord's ended with the batsman taking a bouncer to the neck, briefly forcing him off before returning to cheaply give up his wicket to Chris Woakes.

Concussion kept Smith from returning for the second innings as Australia clung on for a draw, while he was not fit to feature in the third Test either, where Ben Stokes' Headingley heroics levelled the series.

However, the former Australia captain is set to return at Old Trafford next week and insisted Archer, seen as a series-turning talent, has not "got the wood" on him.

"There's been a bit of talk that he's got the wood over me, but he hasn't actually got me out," Smith said of Archer. "He hit me on the head on a wicket that was a bit up and down at Lord's.

"All the other bowlers have had more success against me, I daresay. I've faced them a bit more, but they've all got me out a lot more."

Marnus Labuschagne, Smith's replacement, has also taken a couple of Archer deliveries to the head, yet Australia's star man suggests these bouncers are unlikely to produce wickets.

Smith added: "If they’re bowling up there, it means they can't nick me off, or hit me on the pad, or hit the stumps.

"With the Dukes ball... I don't know, that's an interesting ploy."

Smith's temporary absence has prompted greater discussion of concussion in cricket, particularly given he was initially allowed to return to the crease at Lord's as his symptoms were delayed.

But the 30-year-old is happy with how the incident was handled, highlighting the pitfalls of a change that would see batsmen withdrawn after taking any hit.

"I felt pretty good, passed all my tests and was able to go and bat," he said. "Then it wasn't until later that evening that it hit me.

"As we've seen this series, there have been so many head knocks already. Marnus [has been hit a few times, Jos [Buttler] got hit at one point, Stokesy's been hit.

"If you're ruling people out from just hits every now and again, we won't have a game."

Ben Stokes has climbed to a career-high second in the ICC's Test all-rounder rankings after his sensational display for England in the third Ashes Test at Headingley.

England superstar Stokes made an unbeaten 135 and carried the hosts to a scarcely believable one-wicket win over Australia to level the series at 1-1 after three matches.

The Durham man's reward was his highest ranking of second in the all-rounders' chart behind Jason Holder on Tuesday.

Stokes was also on the move in the batting standings, surging up to another career best of 13th.

Other Ashes stars on the rise included Jofra Archer catapulting up to 43 in the bowling rankings after just his second Test appearance.

Joe Root climbed to number seven among batsmen, where Steve Smith still trails Virat Kohli at the top of the standings. Pat Cummins remains the best bowler.

Test action elsewhere saw some more big movers. Tom Latham was up five to eighth in the batting rankings after a stunning 154 led New Zealand to an innings-and-65-run thrashing of Sri Lanka in the second Test in Colombo, while Jasprit Bumrah returned second-innings figures of 5-7 in India's 318-run win over West Indies in Antigua to jump nine places to seventh among bowlers.

Marnus Labaschagne joked he is "getting pretty good at answering the questions" in concussion tests after taking another Jofra Archer bouncer to the head in the third Ashes Test.

Labaschagne became the first concussion substitute in the second match at Lord's when star Australia batsman Steve Smith was unable to continue following a blow from England ace Archer.

The stand-in was himself then struck by Archer but battled on to prove his worth in a hard-fought draw, earning a place in the team for the third match as Smith failed to recover in time.

Labaschagne improbably took another whack from the fast bowler early on Saturday in Leeds and received his second concussion test of the series, later acknowledging an increasing familiarity with the process.

"I'm getting pretty good at answering the questions," he told reporters. "I remember the questions from two days ago.

"You don't like getting in the head but it wakes you up. To be fair, today was a bit stiff.

"It came back a long way, I kept trying to sway and sway and ran out of room - my back's not that flexible. You just want to make sure you're watching the ball.

"It's a bit of a laugh now. He comes on and I say, 'Doc, I'm fine'. He knows now. If I do get hit properly, there will be a clear difference. The last two have been glancing blows."

Asked how the concussion tests go, Labaschagne continued in good humour as he reeled off examples of questions.

"'Who's the bowler at the other end?' 'Who's the last wicket?' 'How was he out?' Who you're playing against," he said. "You don't want to get that one wrong.

"You're only playing one team; if you get that wrong, you're probably getting marched off!"

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