Manchester United fans have flocked to Old Trafford to pay tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton following his death aged 86.

A book of condolence was opened at 10am on Sunday in the International Suite and supporters laid flowers and scarves and left messages for one of their most famous sons.

One read: “Thank you Sir Bobby, a hero to the worldwide football family,” while a message from fan group The 1958 said: “History, dignity and integrity is what you gave to our great club. Our promise to you is to make sure it stays.”

Charlton was a key member of England’s victorious 1966 World Cup team and also enjoyed great success at club level with United, who became the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968.

His family announced on Saturday afternoon that he had died peacefully in the early hours of the morning surrounded by his family.

United led the tributes, saying in a statement: “Manchester United are in mourning following the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of our club.

“Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world.

“He was admired as much for his sportsmanship and integrity as he was for his outstanding qualities as a footballer; Sir Bobby will always be remembered as a giant of the game.”

Charlton made his debut for United in 1956 and went on to play 758 matches for the Red Devils, scoring 249 goals. Both were long-standing club records until they were overtaken by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney, respectively.

Charlton won three league three titles and one FA Cup at Old Trafford and, after leaving United in 1973 and becoming Preston manager, he returned to Old Trafford 11 years later as a club director. He was knighted for services to football in 1994.

The statement continued: “His unparalleled record of achievement, character and service will be forever etched in the history of Manchester United and English football; and his legacy will live on through the life-changing work of the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation.

“The club’s heartfelt sympathies are with his wife Lady Norma, his daughters and grandchildren, and all who loved him.”

United manager Erik ten Hag described Charlton as “a legend” and “a giant” as he paid his own tribute after his side’s 2-1 win at Sheffield United on Saturday night.

A wreath was put in the centre circle as a minute’s applause was held before kick-off, while another wreath was laid at the base of the statue of Charlton, George Best and Denis Law in front of Old Trafford.

“His achievements are so immense and huge – global, not only England,” Ten Hag said.

“You see the facts he achieved are incredible. All the games, his titles, his trophies, the contribution he had with his goals.

“I never had the honour to meet him, but I heard, despite all his trophies and games, he was so humble. A big personality and an example for all of us as a footballer and also in society.”

Charlton’s European Cup success at United came 10 years after the Munich air disaster, which he and team manager Sir Matt Busby survived but which claimed the lives of eight of Charlton’s team-mates.

Born in Ashington on October 11 1937, Charlton played in the World Cup final alongside his brother Jack, who died aged 85 in 2020, and won 106 caps for England, scoring 49 goals.

Charlton was diagnosed with dementia and the announcement of his condition made public in November 2020, two days after his United and England team-mate Nobby Stiles died following his own battle with the illness.

The official England account on X, formerly known as Twitter, wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton.

“An integral part of our 1966 FIFA World Cup winning campaign, Sir Bobby won 106 caps and scored 49 times for the #ThreeLions.

“A true legend of our game. We will never forget you, Sir Bobby.”

Prince William, president of the Football Association, paid tribute to Charlton on social media.

Writing on the official account of The Prince and Princess of Wales, William said: “Sir Bobby Charlton. First Division Champion. European Champion. World Champion. Gentleman. Legend. A true great who will be remembered forever. Thank you Sir Bobby. W.”

England manager Gareth Southgate added: “One of our most iconic players, Sir Bobby Charlton’s impact on our only World Cup triumph is there for all to see.

“The privilege of meeting him on several occasions allowed me to understand his personal pride and emotion in having represented England and simply confirmed in my mind his standing as one of the gentlemen of the game.

“The world of football will unite in its sadness at losing an undisputed legend.”

A tribute to Charlton was shown on giant screens outside Wembley on Saturday night, while England will pay a full tribute at the European Championship qualifier against Malta at Wembley on November 17.

Charlton made his England debut against Scotland at Hampden Park in April 1958, just over two months after he had survived the Munich air disaster.

He was not selected for England’s 1958 World Cup squad that summer, but played at the tournament in 1962, 1966 and 1970.

Charlton scored three times at the 1966 World Cup, including both goals in the 2-1 semi-final victory over Portugal, and ended his England career at the age of 32 following the quarter-final exit to West Germany in 1970.

Wayne Rooney broke Charlton’s scoring records for both Manchester United and England and heard the news during the Sky Bet Championship match between Middlesbrough and Birmingham at the Riverside.

Birmingham boss Rooney said: “As I came out for the second half, I didn’t know what was happening. I see his image on the big screen and it hit me what had happened.

“Bobby was always great with me, we had many conversations about football and life. He is a huge inspiration not just to me but to a lot of players who have played for Manchester United.

“He was the first to congratulate me when I broke the record at Stoke. He came in after the game with his wife. He said congratulations – and a few more harsh words, jokingly.

“He was a top human being, which is more important.”

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick, another former United player, said: “One particular memory that stands out was the 50-year anniversary of Munich.

“He came into the training ground and spoke to us about the tragedy and what it meant to him. That’s 45 minutes that I will never, ever forget.”

Charlton’s death means Sir Geoff Hurst is the only survivor from England’s 1966 World Cup final win over West Germany.

Hurst, who hit a hat-trick in the 4-2 Wembley victory, said: “Very sad news today 1 of the true Greats Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away. We will never forget him & nor will all of football.

“A great colleague & friend he will be sorely missed by all of the country beyond sport alone. Condolences to his family & friends from Geoff and Judith.”


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Marcus Rashford MBE (@marcusrashford)


England’s current record goalscorer, Harry Kane, told Sky Sports: “It’s a sad day for English football for sure. I send my love and condolences to his friends and family.

“Sir Bobby was one of England’s greatest ever players, if not the greatest. I’m proud that I was able to meet him.

“Obviously he was a big supporter of the national team, watching us whenever he could. A sad day but what a fantastic person, what a fantastic life he lived.”

Writing on Instagram following United’s win over Sheffield United, forward Marcus Rashford said: “I signed my first professional contract at Man Utd with Sir Bobby.

“Thank you for all the support and advice that you provided to me. That win was for you and your family.”

Sam Tomkins’ dream of ending his glittering career with one last Grand Final win was shattered by his former club as Wigan summoned a stirring second-half display to sink Catalans Dragons 10-2 at Old Trafford.

Liam Marshall grabbed the only try of the game to secure a hard-fought but ultimately comfortable win for Matt Peet’s men, sealing their sixth domestic showpiece and their first since 2018.

Tomkins, who was embraced by his friend and former team-mate, Wigan captain Liam Farrell at the final whistle, will head into retirement reflecting on a pair of yellow cards that effectively cost his side any chance of victory.

Adam Keighran was sin-binned midway through the first period and Tom Davies followed suit for an intentional block on Marshall in the second half as Catalans came up short for the second time in three years.

It was a tough night all round for Tomkins, who had been served an early reminder that he would be done no favours on his final appearance when he was taken out by Farrell in the process of punting a high ball forward in the third minute.

Sam Tomkins feared his hopes of a fairytale finale to his glittering rugby league career had been dashed when he limped away from Catalans Dragons’ Betfred Super League win over Leigh in Perpignan in February.

The 34-year-old made a painful early morning phone call to Catalans head coach Steve McNamara to concede his decision to extend his career beyond last year’s World Cup in order help the French side towards a second Grand Final had been in vain.

Eight months later, having defied both his own initial fears and those of series of specialists who had delivered dark verdicts on his injured knee, Tomkins is preparing for the final game he always dreamed of, against the club he helped inspire to three previous Grand Final crowns.

It has become increasingly hard to deny that it has been written in the stars for Tomkins, especially since he rolled back the years with a nifty sprint through the defensive line of four-time defending champions St Helens to score the match-winning try in their play-off semi-final last week.

“It’s funny how things turn out,” smiled Tomkins. “My last game for Wigan was winning a Grand Final here in 2018 and now my last ever game on the pitch is against Wigan. I understand how lucky I am to be in this position.

“Everybody has their own personal story of what trophies mean to them. I’ve got a story for every one, but this different. This would be the first Super League title for the club, and the last time I’ll ever lace up my boots.

“The fairytale isn’t playing on Saturday – it’s winning on Saturday.”

Tomkins initially needed some convincing to bring an end to his glittering Wigan career and move to France in 2019, uprooting his young family to join McNamara, the former Bradford coach who harboured persuasive ambitions of turning Catalans into a permanent member of the sport’s elite.

Now his young family speak fluent French and he has no immediate desire to return to the UK, investing in property and a potential vineyard in Perpignan and accepting an offer from club owner Bernard Guasch to continue in a role as a club ambassador.

It is a measure of Tomkins’ gratitude for his improbable late-career surge, and his desire to take the club one step further than their previous Grand Final appearance two years ago, that he was swiftly disabused of the conviction that the match against Leigh could be his last.

“We played against Leigh and I had a sleepless night after that game,” recalled Tomkins. “In the early hours of the morning, I called the coach and just said, ‘I can’t do it.’

“In terms of rugby, it was the toughest conversation I’ve ever had. Steve said to just come in the office and we’d chat through it. I was adamant at the time – I know my body and I just said I couldn’t do it.

“I told them they’d be better off bringing in someone else who can play every week. But the club said they didn’t want to do that. They said they’d rather have me here for the important games, and that for me was humbling.

“The performance and medical staff put together a great plan that meant I’ve played more rugby this year than I ever imagined.

“I will forever be in debt to them for the work they’ve done in my last season that means I’ll be able to finish on the biggest stage.”

Tomkins, however, is adamant the inevitable emotion of the occasion will count for nothing unless he is able to lift his current club to what would be an unprecedented first Grand Final win for the French side.

Catalans went toe to toe with Wigan during the regular season, leading the standings for a long period and eventually finishing second on goal difference, before raising their game to sink Saints in front of a near sell-out at the Stade Gilbert Brutus.

Over six planes full of Catalans fans will travel to Old Trafford and both French and Catalonian television channels will broadcast the game live, testament to the strides made by the club in the two years since they came up short against Saints at the same venue.

“We learned a lot a couple of years ago and we certainly learned that you can go to a Grand Final and play really well and can still not be enough,” said McNamara, who has made winning a personal mission since he moved to the club in 2017.

“The experience you gain is the same whether you win or lose and that puts us in a different place.

“We are up against a club who have been one of the juggernauts of rugby league for the last hundred-odd years, but that is how it should be in a Grand Final, and we know we have got to be outstanding.”

Experience and youth will go head to head in Saturday’s Super League Grand Final between Wigan and Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford.

For some players the showpiece will represent their last time on a rugby league pitch while others aim to use the opportunity as a springboard to future success.

Here the PA news agency picks out four of the crucial battles that could decide the destiny of this year’s Super League title:

Full-back: Sam Tomkins v Jai Field

Tomkins’ stunning late try in the play-off semi-final win over St Helens provided ample proof that the 34-year-old’s prodigious rugby brain has not dimmed in the twilight of his career. In contrast, the flying Field’s game is based on speed and spontaneity, capable of cutting through the most resolute of defensive lines. Whoever wins the war on Saturday should be grasping the Super League trophy.

Wing: Tom Johnstone v Abbas Miski

Johnstone and Miski went blow-for-blow in the try-scoring stakes this season and finished the regular campaign locked together at the top of the standings on 27. King of the full-length kick-chase, Johnstone has relished his first season in France but is matched for speed by Miski, the Lebanon international who has seized his unexpected chance to star on the wing for Wigan.

Hooker: Michael McIlorum v Brad O’Neill

Intimidating, combustible and a master of the game’s dark arts, McIlorum will set the tempo for Catalans provided he can resist his former club’s attempts to ruffle his feathers. The 21-year-old O’Neill, meanwhile, brings youthful enthusiasm and an imposing physical presence in defence. Wigan need O’Neill – who seized his slot from veteran Sam Powell earlier this season – to rise to the occasion and match his imposing rival.

Halves: Mitchell Pearce v Bevan French

Australian Pearce, who has seen and done it all during a stellar career in Super League and the NRL, will also retire after the game and his already ferocious will to win will ramp up further as he seeks to bow out in style. French, fresh from snaring this season’s Super League Man of Steel, has revelled in his new role this season and brings the kind of vision and vibrancy that has proved pivotal to his side’s success so far.

Wigan winger Abbas Miski is excited by the prospect of making history when he becomes the first Lebanon international to feature in a Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The 28-year-old might have struggled to imagine such a scenario in March when he was loaned out to Championship side London Broncos and made his sole appearance in a heavy defeat at Keighley.

But an injury-enforced reshuffle in the Warriors ranks led to Miski grasping a rare first-team opportunity, and 27 tries and a Players’ Player of the Year trophy later, he has inked himself onto head coach Matt Peet’s starting team sheet.

Miski, who played in all four of his country’s matches in last year’s World Cup, told the PA news agency: “To be the first Lebanese player to play in a Grand Final is a huge honour.

“There are a lot of young Lebanese players growing up in Australia and playing in the NRL, and I think Lebanon has the potential to continue developing into a big rugby league country.

“It’s big for the game in Lebanon too. If people see players like myself playing in Super League and the Grand Final, it gives them someone to look up to and to realise playing at this level is not such a dream.”

Miski will emulate fellow Lebanon internationals Hazem El Masri, Robbie Farah, Tim Mannah and Josh Mansour, all of whom have featured in previous NRL Grand Finals in Australia.

Arriving at Wigan from London in 2022, Miski featured sporadically in his initial top-flight campaign but his prospects changed dramatically two weeks after his trip to Cougar Park, when Jai Field was ruled out for eight weeks due to a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

Peet switched Bevan French from the wing, initially to fulfil Field’s full-back role, leaving Miski to take on the vacant slot out wide – and he responded immediately with a pair of tries in his first appearance against Leigh.

By the end of a campaign that culminated in his side squeaking to the League Leaders’ Shield, Miski sat joint-top of the try-scoring charts on 27 alongside Catalans Dragons rival Tom Johnstone.

“I learned such a lot from Bevan having been on the wing, and I think I really benefited from a sustained period in the squad because the previous year had been very stop-start,” added Miski.

“Going out to London was a conscious decision on my part because I knew I wanted to get some more game time. I could have stayed in the reserves but I really wanted to be ready to play when I got called up.

“It’s been a great season for me and a big honour to get the players’ award. But I am fully focused on the Grand Final because we know how much it means to the fans and the club, and we are all on the same trajectory to achieve our goals.”

Wigan have been boosted by the return of 21-year-old prop Ethan Havard to their provisional squad for the Grand Final, having been ruled out by a hamstring injury since July.

Wigan are looking to kick off a new era of Super League dominance while a Sam Tomkins-inspired Catalans Dragons hope to take rugby league’s biggest domestic trophy back to France for the first time.

Here the PA news agency picks out five key talking points ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Sam slam

Sam Tomkins admitted prior to the play-off semi-final that he dreamed of finishing his career by lining up against the team with whom he won three previous Grand Finals. The Catalans playmaker has got his wish but will have no room for sentiment as he looks to lead his current side to an historic first win.

French Revolution

After falling short in the final two years ago, Steve McNamara’s Catalans are in a stronger place to take the sport’s biggest domestic trophy back to France for the first time. The impact of such a win should not be understated and could only have positive repercussions for the profile of the sport in the south of France.

Culture club

The sport’s dominant force throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Wigan were forced to watch in pain as St Helens wrested control with four back-to-back Grand Final wins. With strong recruitment already in place for next season, the feeling is a Wigan win could spark a spell at the top to match that of their vanquished rivals.

Crowded house

Catalans’ previous appearance at Old Trafford yielded a crowd almost 15,000 lower than for any other Grand Final this century. Such a discrepancy may be inevitable – and not so pronounced this time with the French club set to bring a decent contingent of fans – but it does raise a headache where empty seats at the showpiece event are concerned.

Grand finale?

The Rugby Football League’s contract with Old Trafford runs through to 2024 but changes are afoot as strategic partners IMG push forward with a ‘reimagination’ of the sport. While there is no suggestion the Grand Final in itself is under threat, this could be one of the last to be staged at Old Trafford – with the Etihad Stadium across the city rumoured to be leading the list of potential replacements.

Catalans Dragons head coach Steve McNamara is confident a first Grand Final win for his club against Wigan at Old Trafford on Saturday would herald a bright new era for rugby league both in France and beyond.

Having slayed four-time defending champions St Helens in last Friday’s epic play-off semi-final, the Dragons are already generating unprecedented interest in Perpignan – with six private planes already booked to fly fans for the final.

A Catalans win would build on their historic Challenge Cup success over Warrington in 2018 and their only previous Grand Final appearance two years ago, and McNamara believes one final step to the top of the sport could not come at a better time.

“I think it’ll make huge noise around the world if we could get the win,” said McNamara. “Getting to the Grand Final is good but winning it would potentially open the door to a World Club Challenge and other avenues.

“The impact on the game in France would be huge. We’re fighting against a big animal in France in rugby union, but we’re holding our own without a doubt, and games like last Friday against St Helens grabbed the attention of everyone around the world.”

Catalans have grown used to trailblazing since their formation from an amalgamation of a number of French sides in 2000, and the historic granting of a Super League licence for the 2006 season.

Coincidentally Wigan were the first victims of the sport’s new Anglo-French era when they were sunk 38-30 in Catalans’ first match in the competition, and the arrival of former Bradford coach McNamara in 2017 helped them entrench themselves within the game’s elite.

One year after winning their first Challenge Cup in 2018 they staged the first Super League game at Barcelona’s Nou Camp and expanding sponsorship and television deals in Catalonia have led club owner Bernard Guasch to target an imminent return.

Catalans’ former Wigan great Sam Tomkins – who scored the dramatic winning try against Saints – may be deservedly garnering the attention and the plaudits as he approaches a fairytale final match of his stellar career.

But significantly, Catalans’ success is increasingly underpinned by an emerging group of French players, the first generation of home-grown talent to make an impact in Super League, and McNamara is convinced the club’s potential can only continue to grow.

“The club is continuing to develop and the young French players coming into the club now are a lot more professional than they were before,” added McNamara.

“We still have some way to go, but the overall impact on the game (of winning the Grand Final) would be huge not only at the top end, but at the grass-roots level as well.”

Organisers are confident the increasing prominence of the sport in the south of France since 2021 will ensure a healthier crowd than the 45, 177 who witnessed Catalans’ close defeat to Saints, the lowest Grand Final crowd since 2021.

Less than 24 hours after Catalans’ Old Trafford bid, Toulouse will host London Broncos in Sunday’s Championship Grand Final with a swift return to Super League beckoning for their rivals, who were relegated after a single, hard-fought top-flight campaign last year.

The contrasting fortunes of the domestic game are a stark contrast to the international stage, with the French authorities withdrawing from hosting the 2025 World Cup in May, shortly after both their men’s and women’s teams were brushed aside 64-0 by England in Warrington.

“It’s been a difficult period for the French national team,” added McNamara. “But step by step we’ve managed to achieve some real consistency over the last four years, and that can only help to put us in a strong position as a game in France.”

Kevin Sinfield fittingly kicked the winning points to provide a fairytale finish to his magnificent rugby league career as he led Leeds to Grand Final glory on this day in 2015.

The Rhinos twice came from behind in a pulsating tie against Wigan, with Sinfield converting a 64th-minute try from substitute Josh Walters to seal a 22-20 win at a sell-out 73,512 crowd at Old Trafford.

Sinfield’s third goal meant he ended his rugby league career on 4,231 points, making him the third highest scorer in the history of the game, as Leeds celebrated a seventh Grand Final triumph in a year where they also scooped the Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield.

“To top my career off with a treble in my final year is unbelievable. I’m really thankful and really proud,” said Sinfield, who switched codes to rugby union and had a season with the Rhinos’ sister club Yorkshire Carnegie.

“To finish on an ending like that against a great team and for it to be so tough out there, to come through at the end was brilliant.”

Jamie Peacock bowed out with a record 11th appearance at Old Trafford, as well as a ninth success, while fellow front rower Kylie Leuluai maintained his 100 per cent record in Grand Finals in his last game with a sixth triumph.

Leeds’ hero was Danny McGuire, scoring two of their four tries which helped his side to a first win over Wigan in seven major finals and belated revenge for their defeat in the inaugural Grand Final in 1998.

“We were all a bit emotional and felt a little bit drained early on,” McGuire said.

“Three of my best mates are not going to be playing with me next year. Psychologically you try to put that to the back of your mind but it’s always there.

“You want to send them out on the best terms and fortunately we were able to do that through sheer determination and hard work.

“It’ll be weird not having the Sinfield shirt next to mine on a Friday night.”

England’s bid to push for a series-levelling victory in the fourth Ashes Test was disrupted by the Manchester rain, which wiped out the first session at Emirates Old Trafford.

Only 30 overs were possible on Saturday, where Australia advanced from 113 for four to 214 for five and although they are still 61 runs in arrears, they could be bailed out by the elements.

After persistent overnight showers left a saturated outfield, a planned pitch inspection at the scheduled start time of 11am on the final day never materialised because of a brief band of rain.

Another examination of the playing field took place at 12.15pm and, with an early lunch being taken five minutes later, there was hope of getting on as a start time of 1pm was announced.

However, as England’s players began warming up, the heavens opened once more, forcing them back indoors as the covers were hastily brought back on – seemingly the beginning of another frustrating delay.

England have to make all of the running if there is any play, with Australia content to settle for a draw that would retain a 2-1 lead and the urn to boot, snatching away the possibility of a Kia Oval winner-takes-all decider next week.

England’s push for victory on the penultimate day of the fourth Ashes Test was delayed by the forecast rain at Emirates Old Trafford.

There are growing fears the inclement weather in the north-west this weekend may not relent to give England a window to claim the six wickets they need for a series-levelling victory.

England have seized total control of this Test, with Australia needing 162 just to make the hosts bat again, after closing on 113 for four thanks to Mark Wood’s three-wicket burst on Friday evening.

However, overnight rain continued into Saturday morning and shelving a scheduled 11am start time, with England tweeting: “We’re going to be heavily delayed.”

England will have their eyes on the skies as they attempt to dodge the rain and turn three dominant days into victory in the fourth Ashes Test.

The hosts need to win at Emirates Old Trafford to have any chance of reclaiming the urn and have done everything in their power to set up a winning position.

A thumping first-innings lead of 275, built around Zak Crawley’s 189 and an unbeaten 99 from the stranded Jonny Bairstow, gave them full control before Australia slipped to 113 for four.

With Mark Wood tearing in to claim three for 17 and a cushion of 162 runs, England would back themselves to get the game moving over the weekend but may find the weather forecast harder to defeat than the tourists. Long, heavy showers are expected on Saturday and Sunday and the pressure will be on to maximise any passages of play that are possible.

With six sessions on the table they will be hoping a fresh bowling attack has enough time, but Australia seamer Josh Hazlewood has already broken cover to admit he would be happy to watch the heavens open. Marnus Labuschagne remains in place on 44 not out, with in-form all-rounder Mitch Marsh at the start of his innings.

England pile into toiling Australia

Crawley laid the foundations for England, who added 208 to their overnight score which took them to a formidable 592, with fifties for Ben Stokes, Harry Brook and Bairstow. This was England’s highest total in a home Test since August 2011, their best score in the Ashes since January 2011 at Sydney and the first time they have gone past 500 on their own shores against Australia since August 1985.

Tweet of the day

All eyes will be on the skies this weekend – and the view of the BBC lead weather presenter does not augur well.

Quote of the dayJonny 99

Bairstow was left high and dry, one short of a 13th Test ton, after number 11 batter James Anderson was trapped leg-before by Cameron Green. The previous delivery, Bairstow had turned down a risky return run which would have taken him to three figures. This was Bairstow’s second 99 at this ground – although on that occasion against South Africa six years ago Anderson was blameless as the Yorkshireman was lbw missing a sweep off Keshav Maharaj.

Pat down

An analysis of 23-0-129-1 makes for grim reading for the Australia captain, who doubtless would not have been consoled by claiming the wicket of his opposite number Ben Stokes. Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting wondered aloud on Sky Sports whether Cummins was “starting to get a bit mentally and physically worn out”, having played in and captained the side in the World Test Championship final and four Ashes matches inside the last seven weeks. His partners in crime Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc hardly fared any better as the trio leaked a barely believable 392 between them from 75 overs.

Duck-ing the trend

Chris Woakes, whose priceless 32 not out got England over the line in the Headingley run-chase, nicked off from his first ball to collect England’s first duck of the series. In the last Ashes in 2021-22, there were 17 scoreless dismissals. Woakes’ fortunes improved with the ball in hand as he snared David Warner for the second time in the match courtesy of an inside edge on to his stumps.

Century Mark

Wood snaring the valuable wicket of Steve Smith for a second time in the match, after Australia’s vaunted number four was given the hurry up by a steeply rising bouncer, was Wood’s 100th Test wicket. It has taken Wood 30 matches and eight years to reach the milestone. Interestingly, the identity of his first Test wicket was a certain Brendon McCullum – now England head coach – at Lord’s in May 2015.

Jonny Bairstow took aim at his detractors, describing the criticism he has faced as “out of order” after lifting England into the boxseat in the fourth Ashes Test.

After bashing Australia’s tiring bowlers in his unbeaten 99 off 81 balls to help England to a mammoth 592 all out, an aggrieved Bairstow continued on the offensive at the end of the third day’s play.

While a golden summer with the bat last year meant he was destined to return after recovering from a horrific leg break he suffered last August, the decision for Bairstow to take on wicketkeeping duties against Australia has backfired as the Yorkshireman has dropped seven catches and missed a stumping.

England have resisted calls to restore gloveman Ben Foakes, dropped to facilitate the return of Bairstow, who believes his knockers have failed to take into account the severity of an injury in which he broke his left leg in three places and dislocated his ankle after slipping on a golf course.

“You’ve got to have a bit of perspective on it,” Bairstow told the BBC. “I’ve not played in months and I’ve not kept properly in three years.

“There’s obviously been a lot of talk and things like that, some of which I think has been a bit out of order to be honest but that’s part and parcel of people having an opinion.

“There are times when if people had a conversation with you individually and found out a bit more about the injury or the ankle and how everything’s going, they might have a slightly different view or perspective on it.”

He added on Sky Sports: “The leg break could have ended my career. There are times when you have aches and pains, and people say you’re limping – yeah I am at times! Because there’s a lot going on in my ankle.”

There is a perception that Bairstow tends to perform well when he feels he has a point to prove and Australia’s bowlers bore the brunt of any ill-feeling he had after flaying 10 fours and four sixes as he amassed his highest score since his injury.

However, Bairstow, who was left stranded one run short of three figures after last man James Anderson fell lbw to Cameron Green, insisted he does not need to be fired up to be at his best.

“Everyone thinks I play better when people have a go at me,” Bairstow said. “It gets a bit tiresome, to be honest.

“I’ve played a lot of cricket now. To keep being told you’re rubbish – if I was that rubbish I wouldn’t have played 94 Tests.

“To score 99 you’re pretty happy, aren’t you. I put on a really nice partnership at the end with Jimmy.”

Bairstow snaffled two catches as Mark Wood’s three-wicket haul helped reduce Australia to 113 for four, still trailing by 162, but unsettled weather over the weekend could dampen their victory push at Emirates Old Trafford.

“The weather is the weather, I’m not Michael Fish,” Bairstow said with a smile. “In the circumstances of the game to get 275 in front and then to take four wickets tonight for 100 is all we could have done.”

As well as his work behind the stumps coming under scrutiny, Bairstow was at the centre of the series’ biggest flash point as he was opportunistically stumped by Australia wicketkeeper Alex Carey at Lord’s.

Bairstow stepped out of his crease believing the ball to be dead after ducking a Green bouncer but Carey gathered the ball and in one motion threw down the stumps earlier this month, prompting controversy to the extent that the Prime Ministers of both England and Australia had their say.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to be out down at Lord’s,” Bairstow added. “That is part and parcel of the game. We have seen it in other occasions. I have heard about it in club cricket.

“That’s not necessarily what you want to be hearing. The example for me when you are looking at young kids coming up. You want to be playing the game and play it how I have always played it, you play it tough, you play it fair.”

Australia’s Josh Hazlewood admitted he would be happier to watch it rain than try and wrestle the fourth Ashes Test from England’s grasp.

The tourists have been comprehensively outplayed over three days at Emirates Old Trafford, watching the hosts pile up a 275-run first-innings lead before being reduced to 113 for four in the evening session.

Their only realistic hope of avoiding defeat lies in the skies, with a dismal weekend weather forecast threatening to drown out the fixture.

A damp draw would be enough for Australia to retain the urn, albeit in the flattest of fashions, but Hazlewood welcomed the prospect.

“It would be great to lose a few overs here and there and make our job a bit easier hanging in there, that’s pretty obvious,” he said.

“I would be very pleased. It is forecast, but the forecast can change all the time. There’s rain around but rain and light plays a big part in cricket and has done forever.

“We’re a long way behind, as you can see on the scoreboard. We’re well behind and it’s easy to see that.”

Hazlewood, who took a five-wicket haul amid an attacking blitz from England, stood firm behind his skipper Pat Cummins after what has surely been the most difficult few days of his tenure.

Cummins has looked reactive and muddled in the field, returned the worst bowling figures of his career (one for 129), misread two catches and got out to the first ball of day two.

“It’s a good learning experience,” said Hazlewood.

“He hasn’t been captain for a long period of time and we’ve probably had the better rub of the green for the whole period he’s been captain. He’ll no doubt sit down with the coaches and go through a few things, but he’s a very quick learner.

“Hopefully it doesn’t happen again but in those positions he is still very calm… nothing flustered at any stage.”

Jonny Bairstow was stranded one short of a dazzling Ashes century and Mark Wood blew a hole in Australia’s top order as England continued their fourth Test domination of Australia.

Bairstow was left high and dry on 99 not out from just 81 balls as England blazed their way to 592 on day three at Emirates Old Trafford, building on Zak Crawley’s 189-run blitz on Thursday.

That gave them a commanding lead of 275 over their increasingly beleaguered rivals, who made an uncertain 113 for four in reply and now find themselves relying on a poor weekend weather forecast to escape with a draw.

Wood, once again hurdling the 90mph barrier to unsettle the Australians, claimed three for 17 as Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Travis Head all succumbed.

Bairstow has had an eventful series – falling victim to a deeply controversial stumping at Lord’s, making some costly wicketkeeping errors and even tussling with a Just Stop Oil protester – but put himself in the thick of things for all the right reasons with an outstanding innings.

England were 67 ahead overnight and 120 in front when he arrived at the crease, but his dominant strokeplay piled on the misery for the Australians.

Despite a ring of boundary riders trying to shut him down he hammered four sixes and 10 fours to carry his side to their highest Ashes total at home since 1985.

Bairstow’s controlled aggression was deserving of a hundred but, after expertly managing the strike for the majority of his time with the tail, he found himself stuck at the non-striker’s end after deciding against a risky second that could have got him there.

Last man James Anderson was trapped lbw by Cameron Green’s next ball, stopping Bairstow in his tracks and making him just the third English batter to finish undefeated on 99.

Sir Geoffrey Boycott (1979) and Alex Tudor (1999) are the only others to suffer that fate, but Bairstow was grinning broadly as he left the pitch.

He has been eyeing a measure of revenge ever since his divisive dismissal in the second Test at Lord’s and helped himself to a healthy portion.

Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were both on the receiving end of muscular sixes thrashed into the leg-side, but Bairstow would have taken most satisfaction from the pair of furious blows off Pat Cummins, the Australia captain who refused to withdraw the appeal at Lord’s.

Cummins, who has looked bereft of energy and inspiration this week, ended up with figures of one for 129, the worst analysis of his career.

Bairstow also took liberties against fellow wicketkeeper Alex Carey, the man who threw down his stumps to kick off the ‘spirit of cricket’ rumpus in the first place.

In a bid to shield Anderson from the strike, Bairstow charged through for a bye on several occasions despite the ball carrying cleanly through to Carey’s gloves.

To the audible delight of the crowd, Carey repeatedly failed to hit the target from exactly the same range he had done so two games ago.

England’s day started in typically lively fashion, with a morning session that added 122 runs and four wickets to the scoreboard in just 24 overs.

There were half-centuries for Ben Stokes (51) and Harry Brook (61), and some success for Hazlewood, who finished with five for 126 amid the carnage.

Bairstow was afforded a centurion’s ovation as he left the field, the Manchester crowd overlooking the small matter of a missing single, but did not linger over the moment. His mind was already trained on the next job, with 12 overs to bowl before tea.

Wood was brought on for the 10th and needed just two deliveries to have Usman Khawaja caught behind.

Australia began the evening session on 39 for one, and proceeded to cough up more top-order talent on a pitch that was playing true.

David Warner was first for 28, continuing a poor series by steering Woakes back into his stumps with an uncertain poke outside off.

Woakes thought he had Smith for a duck but saw the TV umpire rule in the batter’s favour when assessing an uncertain slip catch. It looked an extremely close call but the indifferent reaction of the catcher, Joe Root, might have settled it.

In the end it took Wood’s hostility to keep England on the front foot. After bowling just three overs out of the first 28, he returned for a final blast and took Smith and Head with him.

Smith gloved a catch down leg, clearly hurried by the speed, and Head got into an awful position as he fended a rapid bouncer away from his chest and straight to Ben Duckett at gully.

Jonny Bairstow was stranded one short of a dazzling Ashes century as England hammered home their advantage on day three of the fourth Test at Emirates Old Trafford.

Building on Thursday’s 189-run blitz from centurion Zak Crawley, England piled up a huge score of 592 – their fifth highest home total against Australia and their biggest against their rivals since 2011 in Sydney.

That established a handsome 275-run lead, with Mark Wood removing Usman Khawaja just before tea to leave the tourists on 39 for one as they clung to the prospect of bad weather saving them over the weekend.

England were 67 in front overnight and 120 ahead when Bairstow arrived at the crease on 437 for five, but he piled on the agony with a fearsome knock of 99 not out in 81 balls.

He hit four violent sixes and 10 boundaries, doing some major damage to both the scoreboard and the ailing morale of the visiting attack.

A brilliant ton was at hand but, after expertly managing the tail for the majority of his innings, he left himself stuck one short at the non-striker’s end after deciding against taking a risky second.

Last man James Anderson was trapped lbw by Cameron Green’s next ball, stopping Bairstow in his tracks and making him just the third English batter to finish an innings undefeated on 99.

Sir Geoffrey Boycott (1979) and Alex Tudor (1999) are the only others to suffer that fate, but Bairstow was grinning broadly as he left the pitch having enjoyed his delayed retribution against Australia.

He has been eyeing a measure of revenge ever since his controversial stumping in the second Test at Lord’s and helped himself to a healthy portion here.

He showed off his mighty ball-striking ability in the afternoon session, flogging Pat Cummins for two muscular sixes and dealing out one apiece to Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, despite a ring of nine fielders nominally protecting the boundaries.

Bairstow also took some liberties against fellow wicketkeeper Alex Carey, the man who controversially threw down his stumps to kick off a rumpus about the spirit of cricket at Lord’s. In a bid to shield Anderson from the strike, Bairstow charged through for a bye on several occasions despite the ball carrying cleanly through to Carey’s gloves.

To the audible delight of the crowd, Carey repeatedly failed to hit the target from exactly the same range he had done so two games ago.

Anderson’s dismissal left England with 12 overs to begin making inroads and Wood got the job done with his second ball after replacing James Anderson.

Tempting Khawaja into an indiscretion outside off stump, he snared a thin edge which everyone on the field appeared to hear except the batter.

Khawaja called for DRS and watched as UltraEdge confirmed his fate.

England had earlier started the day in typically lively fashion, with Ben Stokes (51) and Harry Brook (61) banking half-centuries in a morning session that contained 122 runs and four wickets in 24 overs.

Hazlewood finished with five-for as he mopped up but conceded 126, while fellow seamers Starc and Cummins shelled 137 and 129 respectively.

Page 1 of 2
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.