Australia captain Pat Cummins wishes the weather had been on his team's side after England frustrated their hosts to draw the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

James Anderson batted out the final over of the day – and the 102nd of England's second innings – at the Sydney Cricket Ground to ensure the tourists reached 270-9 at stumps and avoided a series whitewash.

With the Ashes already lost after a dismal opening three Tests, Joe Root's team performed resiliently to restore some pride heading into the final match in Hobart.

They relied on some good fortune, too. Rain delayed the restart in the second session on Sunday, further stalling Australia after they had clinched the important wicket of Zak Crawley (77), who became England's third-youngest opener to score a half-century in an away Ashes series, just before lunch. Rain also effected play earlier in the match.

Cummins, meanwhile, held on late to declare on day four despite Australia having built a towering lead, with Crawley and Haseeb Hameed only facing 35 minutes at the crease late on Saturday.

"Obviously, [we were] really keen [for the win]," Cummins said at the post-match presentation.

"But I think it was a great game of Test cricket, we got close. A bit less weather might have got us there but it was a really hard-fought match – that's why we all love it. We'd have loved to go up 4-0, but it was a good match.

"The weather forecasts are hopeless, I learned that this week. I think day four was meant to rain all day. I was ready to follow-on, we'd have had a full day of sunlight yesterday to bowl in."

Asked about his late declaration, Cummins added: "Being in a position to get up close to 400, I think we needed that.

"The wicket wasn't playing many tricks, we’ve got some class batters. Today was good fun, I felt really lucky to have genuine bowlers plus Smithy [Steve Smith] and Marnus [Labuschagne] to throw the ball to. It felt like we were right in with a shot."

Australia were led in the fourth Test by the magnificent Usman Khawaja, who marked his first appearance in their red-ball side since the 2019 Ashes series with a hundred in each innings.

He became just the third player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test, and the first since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in 2006, also against England.

"Two hundreds, no it can't [get much better]," Usman said.

"It was a terrific game. We'd have loved to win but it was a great game, a great fight from England, Test cricket at its best, right down to the wire. It could have gone either way – we couldn't ask for much more."

Khawaja has already said he does not expect to be in Australia's team for the final Test, with Travis Head expected to return from a coronavirus-enforced absence, but the 35-year-old knows he has a big role to play over the next 12 months.

"I'm enjoying the game, love the game. There's lots of ups and downs. I fully know I could go out next time I play and get two ducks, it's just the way this game is," he continued.

"That's why we love it. It's such a hard game. It's really satisfying. There's nothing harder that Test cricket, when you perform like that you know you've done something right.

"There's a lot of cricket coming up. Fingers crossed we stay healthy. The guys have played unbelievably before this game, 3-0 up. We couldn't have asked for much more from this series and hopefully the next game we can win that, and then win a few games away."

England have stubbornly held on for a thrilling draw with one wicket left to halt Australia's bid for an Ashes series whitewash at the SCG on Sunday.

Australia needed 10 wickets on the final day to claim a 4-0 series lead in the fourth Ashes Test but could only claim nine, with tail-ender Jimmy Anderson staving off the final over from Steve Smith.

Smith had claimed the ninth wicket with the final ball of the 100th over, meaning Anderson (0*) and Stuart Broad (8*) had to navigate two more overs but survived.

England, who resumed at 30-0 needing an improbable 388 for victory, got through 91 overs on the final day, with Australia taking five final session wickets to apply intense pressure.

Zak Crawley (77), Ben Stokes (60) and Jonny Bairstow (41) led the rearguard despite the latter two being hampered by injuries, before Leach (26), Broad and Anderson saw England through to a draw in fading light.

MCG hero Scott Boland (30-3) was the pick of the bowlers along with Nathan Lyon (28-2) and captain Pat Cummins (80-2), who claimed two wickets in three balls in the final session to ignite the home crowd.

Crawley offered positive resistance in the first session but was trapped lbw by all-rounder Cameron Green for 77 before lunch, after Boland got Hameed early and Lyon had bowled Dawid Malan.

Rain delayed the resumption before England were stubborn in the second session, scoring only 52 runs in 21 overs but Australia got the key wicket of Joe Root (24) to Boland.

The game came to life in the final session, with Stokes' heroic stand ending caught by Steve Smith at slip off Lyon for 60 from 123 balls. Cummins struck twice in three balls in the 85th over, trapping both Jos Buttler and Mark Wood lbw to give the hosts real hope.

Jonny Bairstow was dropped by Smith at second slip on 28 but Boland struck again, when England's last remaining recognised batsman edged onto his pad allowing Marnus Labuschagne to catch at silly mid-off for 41.

Leach, who batted for more than an hour, and Broad fought hard, with the former edging off Carey's gloves to Warner late, before England's final two did enough to claim a hard-earned draw.

The West Indies secured a 24-run win over Ireland in the first of their three ODIs at Sabina Park today.

In pursuit of 270 for victory, captain Andrew Balbirnie and William Porterfield strode to the crease to begin Ireland’s reply.

Their chase got off to the worst possible start as experienced opener Porterfield was dismissed for a duck by Akeal Hosein in the second over to leave them at 1-1.

Andrew McBrine joined Balbirnie at the crease and the pair carefully carried the score to 30-1 after 10 overs.

McBrine, unfortunately, had to leave the field at the end of the 17th over, on 34 from 50 balls, after being struck on the helmet by Odean Smith with the score on 62-1.

Harry Tector came to the crease to join Balbirnie and the two brought the score to 74-1 at the end of 20 overs with Balbirnie on 31 and Tector on three.

Ireland brought up their hundred with only one wicket down in the 25th over with Balbirnie and Tector on 46 and 12, respectively.

Balbirnie brought up his 13th ODI 50 off 74 balls in the 27th over.

After 30 overs, Ireland was cruising at 134-1 with Balbirnie on 60 and Tector on 32.

Balbirnie (66) and Tector (42) continued scoring freely to bring up Ireland’s 150 in the 33rd over.

Tector brought up his fifth ODI 50 off 62 balls in the 35th over.

At the start of the 36th over, Balbirnie and Tector brought up their 100-partnership.

The West Indies finally got the breakthrough they were looking for when Romario Shepherd removed Balbirnie for 71 off 94 balls in the 37th over to leave Ireland 165-2.

Odean Smith got his first ODI wicket in the 38th over by removing Harry Tector for 53 to leave the tourists 173-3 needing 97 more to win from 75 balls.

Curtis Campher then became Shepherd’s second wicket when he was dismissed for six in the 39th over to leave Ireland 173-4.

After 40 overs, Ireland was 178-4 needing 92 from 60 balls to win with Lorcan Tucker on 3 and George Dockrell on 2.

Tucker was next to go, bowled by Alzarri Joseph for 9 in the 42nd over, to leave the score at 186-5.

Joseph then bowled a perfect yorker to dismiss Gareth Delaney in the 44th over for his second wicket to leave Ireland on 194-6 needing 76 from 37 balls to win.

Neil Rock came in as a concussion substitute for McBrine and helped Ireland bring up their 200 in the 45th over with four wickets in hand.

After a promising partnership with Dockrell, Rock was dismissed by Jason Holder in the 47th over for five to leave Ireland 222-7 needing 48 from 20 balls to win.

Dockrell gave the West Indies something to think about late on with some big shots but was eventually dismissed by Joseph in the 48th over for 30 from 25 balls to leave Ireland on 237-8, needing 33 from 14 to win.

Shepherd then got his third wicket of the innings, removing Craig Young for a duck in the 49th over to leave the score at 239-9.

The win was secured when Nicholas Pooran took a brilliant diving catch on the boundary off Odean Smith to dismiss Josh Little and secure a 24-run victory.

Alzarri Joseph and Romario Shepherd took three wickets each for the West Indies and they were supported by debutant Odean Smith who got two.

Earlier, Ireland won the toss and put the West Indies in to bat.

Shamarh Brooks (93) and captain Kieron Pollard (69) were the chief destroyers as the West Indies finished 269 all out off 48.5 overs, against three-wicket hauls from Mark Adair and Craig Young.

Brooks was voted Player of the Match.

 

 

Well-compiled half-centuries from captain Kieron Pollard and debutant Shamarh Brooks propelled the West Indies to 269 all out from 48.5 overs in the first ODI at Sabina Park today.

After Ireland won the toss and chose to field, vice-captain Shai Hope and debutant Justin Greaves were tasked to open the innings for the home side.

The pair battled to 18-0 from 5.4 overs before Greaves was removed caught off the bowling of pacer Mark Adair for 7.

Nicholas Pooran joined Hope and the pair brought the score to 36-1 after 10 overs with Hope on 17 and Pooran on five.

They reached 59-1 in the 17th over before Pooran was dismissed, caught on the boundary off the bowling of off-spinner Andrew McBrine for 13.

Shai Hope was the next batsman to go, caught by wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker off the bowling of medium-pacer Curtis Campher for 29 to leave the West Indies 59-3 early in the 18th over.

Roston Chase replaced Hope at the crease and didn’t last long, becoming McBrine’s second victim, for one, leaving the West Indies 62-4 after 19 overs with captain Pollard joining Brooks at the crease.

After 20 overs, the Caribbean side were 66-4 with Brooks on five and Pollard on one.

The same pair were at the crease when the West Indies brought up their 100 in the 27th over with Pollard on 20 and Brooks on 17.

After 30 overs, West Indies were 121-4 with Pollard on 26 and Brooks on 27.

Brooks brought up a debut ODI 50 off 61 balls in the 36th over to move the score along to 159-4.

Pollard followed suit in the 37th over, hitting consecutive sixes off McBrine to bring up his 13th ODI 50 off 51 balls.

With 10 overs remaining, the West Indies were 204-4 with Brooks and Pollard looking comfortable on 70 and 66, respectively.

Pollard finally went for 69 off 66 balls in the 42nd over to leave the Windies 217-5.

Brooks was dismissed narrowly short of a debut hundred in the 45th over, going off the bowling of Mark Adair for 93 from 89 balls to leave the West Indies 238-6 with five overs remaining.

Romario Shepherd was the seventh wicket to fall, caught off the bowling of Craig Young in the 47th over for two to leave the score at 246-7.

More misery followed as Jason Holder went off the very next ball for 13 to leave the Windies 246-8 off 46.5 overs.

Alzarri Joseph was next to go in the 48th over for a duck to leave the score 253-9.

Mark Adair was the pick of the Irish bowlers with 3-38 from his 8.5 overs and he was supported by Craig Young who recovered from an expensive start to his spell to finish with 3-56 from nine overs.

 

 

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI), during a meeting of their Board of Directors on Thursday, announced the appointment of former Windies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan as a Selector to the West Indies Men’s Senior and Youth Selection Panels.

The panels are led by the Most Hon. Dr Desmond Haynes and Robert Haynes respectively.  Sarwan will be stepping down from his current role as Chairman of the Guyana Cricket Board’s Senior Selection Panel to focus on this role and avoid any conflict of interest.

“I am delighted to confirm that Ramnaresh Sarwan has agreed to accept the post of selector on CWI’s Men’s Senior and Youth Panels. He is a student of the game and knows what is required of our young cricketers in order to achieve international success. The Board of Directors are confident that Mr. Sarwan will add enormous value to the cricket system,” said CWI President Ricky Skerritt, reacting to the appointment.

Sarwan, a former West Indies captain who had an international career spanning over a decade, also reacted to his appointment to the panels.

“I want to thank CWI and everyone involved for giving me this opportunity to again serve West Indies cricket, as a member of the selection panels. I’m passionate about the game of cricket and especially West Indies cricket and once asked to contribute, I didn’t hesitate. I look forward to working with my colleagues, The Most Hon. Dr Desmond Haynes and Mr Robert Haynes, and the two Head Coaches, as well as everyone else involved in the development of this sport we love and respect so much,” he said.

Sarwan will be a member of the Men’s Senior and Youth Selection Panels until 30 June 2024, a period that includes four ICC Global Events, two T20 World Cups (2022 & 2024), the Cricket World Cup (2023), and the World Test Championship Final (2023).

He played 81 Test matches, 181 One-Day Internationals, and 18 T20 Internationals for the West Indies between 2000 and 2013.

He scored 5842 runs in Tests, including 15 centuries, and 5804 runs in ODIs, including five centuries, and was a member of the West Indies team which won the ICC Men’s Champions Trophy in 2004.

 

 

Sam Billings has joined the England Ashes squad, driving more than 500 miles down the Australian coast to ease the tourists' injury crisis.

With Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler both doubtful for the fifth and final Test of England's disappointing Ashes series, Billings got the call to join the squad just 90 minutes before he was due to leave Australia.

The 30-year-old was in Queensland with Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder, and spoke of his surprise at the call-up, after driving down the east coast of the country alone, as a precaution against COVID-19.

"I thought it was a joke," a thrilled Billings said in an interview with BBC Sport's Test Match Special program.

"I was due to go to Brisbane airport to fly home, and instead I went to Gold Coast airport to pick up a rental car, and I was on my way."

Ollie Pope stood in behind the stumps for England on day four of the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with both Bairstow and Buttler waiting on scans after sustaining hand injuries.

Pope took four catches before the hosts declared at 265-6.

England's prospects of victory look unlikely, given they are chasing a target of 388. However, openers Zak Crawley and Haseeb Hameed were disciplined in a short spell at the crease in the evening session on Saturday, and the tourists' focus will now be on securing a draw to avoid going 4-0 down in the series.

Billings is hoping to make a positive impact in the final Test. Should he feature, he will become the 700th man to represent England in the longest format. 

"I've had to bide my time for an opportunity or consistent game time," Billings said. "I'm really enjoying my cricket, to have the chance to play and not just to run the drinks, I've done that too much!

"I want to prove, not only to myself, but also to other people, that I'm not just a fill-in, I am good enough to warrant a place in the side.

"If the opportunity does arise then there's no pressure on me. It's something that no one really expected, and I've got nothing to lose. That's a great place to be, and sometimes that's when you play your best cricket."

Billings then discussed the rather unique overnight journey that he undertook to meet up with the squad. 

"It's been quite a long drive, I'm not going to lie," said Billings. "People don't realise how big Australia is. It really is vast."

After an overnight stop near the border between Queensland and New South Wales, the 30-year-old continued his journey "at the crack of dawn" on Saturday morning, and was at least able to take in some of the country's scenery. 

"I've been on a motorway through lots of trees, hills and rivers. It's been pleasant, better than the M25!"

Australia's Usman Khawaja is expecting to miss out on a place in the side for the final Ashes Test, despite his stunning display at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England will need to bat out the final day at the SCG on Sunday, and perhaps hope for help from the weather, as they look to seal a draw from the fourth Test and stave off the threat of a 5-0 series whitewash.

The tourists will resume on 30-0, their highest opening partnership of the series so far, after Australia declared on 265-6 in their second innings.

England had kept themselves in the fight thanks to Jonny Bairstow's century on day three, and added 36 runs to their overnight total in the morning session on Saturday.

Their bowlers started well, reducing Australia to 68-3 by the time Khawaja came to the crease, and Steve Smith's dismissal then left the hosts at 86-4.

Yet Khawaja, who marked his recall in place of coronavirus-hit Travis Head with 137 in the first innings, went on to thwart England's bowling attack once more, with his unbeaten 101 leading Australia into a 387-run lead.

Khawaja, who played for New South Wales and currently is a star man for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, became the first player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in January 2006, also against England.

However, the 35-year-old, who had not appeared in an Australia Test team since facing England at Headingley in 2019, does not expect his performance to be enough to secure his spot in the XI for the final match in Hobart.

"At the moment I'm quite resigned to the fact that I'll probably miss out," Khawaja told reporters. "That's just from talking to [head selector] George Bailey about continuity. That's important, I'm not totally against that process.

"I felt like throughout my career, a lot of changes were made and I was on the wrong side of them, so I'm the first to say that I think there needs to be structure and stability. I know how hard it is for a cricketer chopping and changing.

"I actually like the processes that the selectors have been taking throughout the series, so at the moment I'm not really expecting to play the next match, but I'll always be ready.

"Someone else may get COVID or something else happens. Heady batted beautifully in that first Test. I'd be very surprised if too much changed. Scotty Boland was amazing last game, something I'm not sure I'll see again, and he was going to be dropped. It's just the reality. It sucks, but that's just cricket."

While Khawaja is not expecting to play in Tasmania, he may also be joined in watching on by England trio Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Bairstow.

Stokes scored a resilient 66 as he battled through a side strain in England's first innings, while both Buttler and Bairstow did not field on Saturday after sustaining hand injuries.

Ollie Pope filled in at wicketkeeper, taking four catches, while Sam Billings has been called up by England for the Hobart Test, and assistant coach Graham Thorpe does not know if the trio will be fit to return.

"We've obviously got some blows. It's possible [they will miss the final Test] but we will be assessing all of that at the end of the game," he told reporters.

England were forced to field Ollie Pope as a substitute wicketkeeper in the second innings of the fourth Ashes Test with Australia.

Injuries to Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow left both unable to field at the Sydney Cricket Ground as England attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.

Buttler injured his left index finger while Bairstow scored England's first century of the series with an injured thumb.

He returned to bat in the morning session on day four but was unable to don the gloves, which were instead handed to Pope.

Pope claimed a pair of catches prior to lunch as Australia were reduced to 66-2, a lead of 188 after England were bowled out for 294.

The substitute keeper claimed a third catch in the afternoon session as Marnus Labuschagne was caught behind for 29.

Sam Billings, playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, has been called up to England's Test squad.

 

West Indies One Day International and T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, implored his team to aim to put together a string of consistent performances on the eve of their first ODI against Ireland at Sabina Park in Jamaica.

Pollard spoke in a pre-match press conference on Friday and acknowledged the criticism the team has received for its frequent inconsistent play.

“A lot has been said over the last couple months in terms of performances by the West Indies team; us not doing well and losing games and it is something that we accept. We want to be able to string good performances together on a consistent basis and that is the nature of some of the conversations we’re having as a team,” Pollard said.

The Trinidadian also explained that finding the right combination can take time so fans should be patient.

“Hopefully the fans can bear with us until we find that right combination and guys in the frame of mind to actually perform on a consistent basis,” he added.

Finding that right combination is also made more difficult by the fact that some of the most talented players in the region have persistent fitness issues that prevents them from being selected to represent the Caribbean side, a notion which Pollard also echoed during his press conference.

“It has been a topical issue that has been plaguing us for the last couple years or so. I think it’s an individual choice. The selection policy is there, the fitness policies are there. Guys know exactly what is needed for you as an individual to represent the West Indies and sometimes as individuals, we tend to take things for granted. Yes, it has hindered the process of selecting the best team at any given time,” he said.

In terms of preparation, the captain says training has been going well and the team is relishing the opportunity to produce.

“We have an opportunity to try and put things right, so for the last couple days guys have been training hard. This is a different format to the ones that we have played recently and we’re looking forward to the challenges for the season ahead, not only this series,” Pollard said.

The first ODI between the West Indies and Ireland bowls off at Sabina Park on Saturday, January 8 at 9:30 am Jamaica time.

 

 

 

West Indies rookie wicketkeeper/batsman, Joshua Da Silva, is eyeing a fruitful regional first-class season in the coming months to secure his place in the West Indies Test side.

The Trinidadian has described his first year as a West Indies cricketer as “up and down” after so far scoring 445 runs in 11 Tests, at an average of 24.72, with three fifties to his name.

The West Indian first-class season is expected to get underway in February and Da Silva, speaking to the Trinidad and Tobago Express newspaper on Thursday, expressed his desire for a big season in 2022.

“The first-class season is coming up and I’m going to work very hard and try to score as many runs as I can so it is not a question of whether or not I will be in the starting eleven,” DaSilva said.

Da Silva has so far made 1317 runs in 28 first-class games with eight fifties and one hundred and wants to build on these numbers this season.

“I will just bat and make runs and let the selectors do their job and given the opportunity, I will just put my best foot forward for the region,” said Da Silva.

He'll be looking to follow up on a fantastic 2019/20 West Indies Championship campaign, which saw him vault into the Test setup after scoring 507 runs from eight matches, at an average of 50.70, with one hundred and three fifties.

Those 507 runs placed Da Silva fifth on the most runs list for that season.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) today announced a squad of 23 players for a medical and fitness camp in Barbados, from January 9 to 14, ahead of departure for the four-match One-Day International (ODI) series against South Africa Women in Johannesburg.

The camp sees the return of veteran leg-spinner Afy Fletcher, following her year-long maternity leave, while teenagers, Zaida James from St. Lucia and Jannilea Glasgow from St. Vincent and the Grenadines have again been included in a senior West Indies Women’s camp.

Britney Cooper, Shabika Gajnabi, and Shawnisha Hector have all been ruled out by the CWI Medical Panel for medical reasons.

“The players will undergo medical and physical testing before the final squad of 18 are selected to travel. It is good to have Afy Fletcher back into the setup. Unfortunately, three players, Britney Cooper, Shabika Gajnabi, and Shawnisha Hector have been ruled out of selection consideration for medical reasons,” said Anne Browne-John, CWI Lead Selector for Women’s cricket.

Browne-John also commented on the emergence of the youngsters in the team.

“What is very promising for us at CWI is the inclusion of teenagers Jannilea Glasgow and Zaida James. They’ve been a part of the senior team camps before and also played in the first-ever West Indies Women’s A-Team home series against Pakistan Women last year. Their inclusion is a continued step in the developmental pathways we have established to grow women’s cricket in the region,” she added.

The selection of the final 18 players, who will travel to South Africa, will be announced at the conclusion of the camp.

The full squad for the camp is as follows: Aaliyah Alleyne, Reniece Boyce, Shemaine Campbell, Shamilia Connell, Deandra Dottin, Afy Fletcher, Cherry-Ann Fraser, Jannilea Glasgow, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Zaida James, Qiana Joseph, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Mandy Mangru, Hayley Matthews, Anisa Mohammed, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Kaysia Schultz, Shakera Selman, Stafanie Taylor, Rashada Williams.

 

 

Justin Langer has revealed that Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood is unlikely to be fit for the final Ashes Test in Hobart.

Hazlewood suffered a side injury in the first match of the series against England at the Gabba.

It was thought that the quick, who turns 31 on Saturday, could return in the last match of the series at Blundstone Arena but Australia head coach Langer says it appears that game could come too soon for Hazlewood.

He said: "At this stage it is looking like that. Unfortunately Josh hasn't come up, hopefully he'll be right for the white-ball games.

"It's been really tough on him, he has been really hanging out to play in this Ashes series like everyone.

"He has missed three games, so to have one of our premier fast bowlers out of the series, I guess it is a bit like England missing one of their premier fast bowlers [Jofra Archer] – we've missed big Josh.

"At this stage, if I was a guessing man I'd say that he probably won't play the next Test match but we will wait and see."

Scott Boland underwent a scan after jamming his elbow into his ribs while bowling on a rain-affected day three of the fourth Test at the Sydney Ground, where Jonny Bairstow made an unbeaten 103 as the tourists closed on 258-7 in reply to Australia's 416-8 declared.

But Langer is hopeful Boland will be able to help Australia try and move into a 4-0 lead at the SCG. 

"It's amazing modern technology – he went for a scan just after the [tea] break and we were looking at his ribs on the computer screen about half an hour later," said Langer.

"So thankfully there's no fractures. He's going to be sore in the cartilage between his ribs but hopefully he'll be right to bowl tomorrow or in the second innings.

"Whether it's tomorrow morning, but in the second innings definitely."

Jonny Bairstow was full of pride at his performance on day three of the fourth Ashes Test after his 103 not-out kept England fighting.

Joe Root's team have already lost any chance of regaining the urn, having suffered defeat in the opening three Tests, and they looked down and out at 36-4 at the Sydney Cricket Ground early in Friday's play.

However, Ben Stokes (66) and Bairstow put on a fifth-wicket stand of 128 to guide the tourists to 164.

Stokes' battling innings, in which he was struggling with an apparent side strain, came to an end when he misjudged a Nathan Lyon delivery and was trapped lbw, and England looked in danger of failing to avoid the follow-on when Jos Buttler got out cheaply for a duck.

Yet Bairstow and Mark Wood (39) fought back, with the latter hitting three sixes during an entertaining 41-ball spell that was ended by Pat Cummins.

Bairstow stayed at the crease, though, and cut Australia's captain for four to surpass 100 in the final over of the day, with England closing on 258-7, 158 runs behind.

It was Bairstow's seventh Test century, and his first since 2018, while no England player had scored an Ashes 100 in Australia since Alistair Cook back in 2017, with England's then captain scoring 244 on that occasion.

Bairstow was not selected for the first two Tests but returned to the fold in Melbourne, scoring 35 in the first innings and five in the second.

The 32-year-old, who made his Test debut in May 2012, also moved onto 1,033 runs scored against Australia.

Bairstow was clearly overjoyed when he celebrated his century. It was a poignant moment, with this Test having started on the 24th anniversary of the death of his father David, himself a former England wicketkeeper.

"Extremely proud, really, really proud. You've known me for long enough and how much that means," Bairstow told BT Sport. "Unbelievable, I was ecstatic, extremely proud, there's a lot of hard work gone into that one.

"It's been tough, you've got to dig deep, you really have. People mention the scheduling, how much red-ball cricket people are playing leading into massive series like this, it's not just this series, it's the India series, the India series before that when we were over there.

"You've got to delve very deep, on things you've worked hard at over a number of years. 

"Tried not to be too rigid. You can look at technique a lot. Some things work but other times you've got to keep being natural about the way you're moving or you become a bit clunky and too rigid. That's what I feel sometimes got to, trying to be something potentially that I'm not.

"My strength is putting pressure back on the bowlers, running between the wickets, trying to get them off the length to then give me a different ball. I wasn't necessarily doing that, but that also comes with spending time out in the middle consistently."

 

Bairstow took a nasty blow to his thumb from a rapid Cummins delivery just after Stokes' dismissal, but fought through the pain barrier.

"Slightly sore, it's starting to get a bit sorer now we've come off the field," he said. "I was hurting! 

"You're playing in a New Year's Test match in Sydney, on the Pink Day, it's going to take a heck of a lot to get you off the field. You've still got a job to do. Yes it's sore, it will be sore, but you're playing cricket for England and I'm very proud to do that."

An England victory still looks incredibly unlikely but, with rain possibly in store over the coming days, a draw is on the cards as the tourists aim to avoid a 5-0 whitewash.

"We've got two days to scrap and scrap hard," Bairstow added.

"We had a challenge this morning to still be batting at the end of the day. They've got a new ball coming, so tomorrow is about scrapping hard again. We got to the follow-on and past that, let's see how close we can get."

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