Wickets drop but Aussies retain lead

Cummins dominates with the ball before England’s comeback

After 17 wickets fell in three sessions in Hobart – the highest number of batsmen in an Ash Test on Australian soil for over 20 years – Australia limped to the stumps shaken and bruised, but with a 152 lead and knowing that conditions can only be better to stretch that lead in the morning.

For the second time in as many days, Australia’s top order faltered against England closers armed with a new pink ball as the hosts reeled to 3-3 with David Warner (0), Marnus Labuschagne (5) and Usman Khawaja (5 ) plunged into an exciting final session.

While it was century-maker Travis Head who came to the rescue on Friday, tonight it was Scott Boland who took on night watchman duties in his third Test appearance and withstood a barrage from England’s fastest bowler Mark Wood to finish 3rd in 25 contested balls.

The 17 wickets that fell on day two, in addition to 287 runs in 82 overs, represent the busiest day of Ashes cricket in Australia since 18 wickets fell to 341 on the epic (and extended) final day of Boxing Day testing. 1998 at the MGC.

The home team resumes tomorrow after 3-37 with Steve Smith unbeaten in 17 and the knowledge of any target above 250 should be a challenge for the England batsmen who once again imploded today.

That will be an even more difficult task if Australia survives to the final session, with batting against a new ball under the lights a thankless task as Warner and his senior teammates found it tonight.

It was Warner’s firing on the first shift tonight that set the tone for the session.

Broad has now claimed Warner’s wicket 14 times in the 26 Tests they have met, and it was the opener’s second pair of ducks in his celebrated career, the previous occasion being the Ashes Test at Old Trafford in 2019 when Broad also brought him down. . on both inputs.

England should have been rightfully pleased with the way they defended in today’s opening session as they captured Australia’s last four wickets to add 62 runs to wrap up their opening innings for 303.

It would have been an even tidier first hour were it not for Nathan Lyon’s entertaining cameo in which he gave a believable impersonation of a dapper Caribbean opener circa 1980 with three hard-hitting, boundary-clearing shots, one of them landing in the adjoining Church Street.

Off the ground! Lyon clubs from sixes in a row

But any suggestion that batting had become as light-hearted as Lyon suggested was dashed as soon as Australia took the pink ball in hand and England ended the day as it had begun: on the pitch.

After a dire start, skipper Joe Root found himself at the wicket with the score 2-29, the fifth time in as many Tests this campaign that he had been called into the middle with the ball with fewer than 10 overs.

By contrast, his rival, No. 4 batsman Steve Smith, has faced such a situation only twice in the series, in this current Test, when Australia slumped to 2-7 and then 2-5 in the first half an hour of both entrances.

On both occasions, Australia were able to bounce back… an attribute they demonstrated beyond England.

After a brief show of resilience from Root and Dawid Malan that brought 49 runs to the third wicket, a mid-order collapse that coincided with the approach of nightfall ensured that England were once again sadly adrift in the game.

Malan became the first of three batsmen caught behind the wicket by leg-gazing attempts today, and his dismissal heralded a decisive 21-ball spell in which Australia went 3-7 on a 20-over ball.

As well as Malan, Cummins claimed the scalp of his rival captain Root for the first time in the series by pinning him so palpably that the England captain opted not to check despite the ball being shown to be brushing the bails on the center stump.

Skipper catches Skipper as Cummins holds Root up front

Next, Mitchell Starc got rid of Ben Stokes, though the credit must at least be shared with Lyon, who intercepted a brutal back foot strike that screamed towards the back point limit as he dove low to his left to capture an impressive catch. .

It turned out to be the highlight of an Australia field effort that quickly dwindled, with Warner reeling off a waist-high opportunity to slip past Chris Woakes from the first ball the England all-rounder faced, and which would have set up Scott Boland. in a hat trick. if it is accepted.

Six overs later, Boland was again the unlucky bowler as Woakes (in 5) vigorously drove past a shoulder-high catch to the left of Khawaja on the third slip, who was unable to hold as he lunged in front of Smith in the second.

Had those sacks been claimed, Australia’s first-innings lead could have approached 150 given that Woakes finished as England’s top scorer with 36 and was involved in a 42-run position for seventh wicket with Sam Billings, who he impressed with 29 on his debut.

However, England could also argue that they had fallen behind with the good fortune of not having the services of new ball bowler Ollie Robinson for most of Australia’s opening innings after he suffered a back spasm in the yesterday’s opening session.

That meant an increased workload for Broad, as well as his speedy teammates Mark Wood and Woakes, with Broad’s frustration revealed when he pleaded with TV crews to “stop moving the robot” in reference to the remote camera he routinely moves outside the boundary. rope.

If the veteran of more than 150 Tests is surprised to see a remote-controlled car operating in the distance, it surely sends a warning to any teammates who might walk quickly from the fine-leg limit with Broad approaching.

But that resentment would have paled along with Broad having to pitch in the first and last sessions of the second day of the Test after England made their usual disastrous batting start from which they were once again unable to recover.

It says a lot about the acumen of opposing teams that Australia’s latest pair have averaged more (14) in their three chances to bat this summer than England’s starting pair (12.78 in nine attempts) with a maximum of one innings per remaining team in this series. .

England’s first-wicket average could have dropped even further when Rory Burns appeared to catch a catch in Starc’s first over and before his side had scored a run.

Starc interested in post-Ashes White Ball series

But despite the apparent interest shown by Australia’s receivers behind the wicket, there was no discussion of assessing the merit of a review and it was only retrospective TV analysis that suggested a slight advantage.

Not that Burns, recalled to the team after being ruled out of Tests 3 and 4 due to lack of runs, benefited from his possible reprieve given that he was left without a duck in the next one after exhibiting an equally serious deficiency: the lack of urgency.

He became the first England starter to fail to score in a Test since Wilf Slack earned the dubious honor in the second innings of the 1986 match against the West Indies in Trinidad, and the first of his side to suffer that fate in a Ash’s party. from Andrew Stoddart at Old Trafford in 1893.

While Burns’s unwillingness to dive for safety ultimately cost him his wicket, it was fellow starter Zac Crawley’s stutter shortly after taking the fateful run that proved decisive, a debate the pair were able to carry on in the privacy of the locker room 30 minutes later when Crawley departed.

The 23-year-old, who impressed in the second innings for England in Sydney, seemed to find his groove once again until he became Cummins’ first casualty of the day.

The right-hander threw a short-leg catch where Travis Head was stationed, proof that there is no such thing as privilege on Cummins’ equal team with the series’ leading run-scorer deployed in the least prized fielding role previously occupied by the fired starter. Marcus Harris. .

An irregular visitor to close catcher positions since suffering a nasty fracture of his left little finger last summer, Head drew on his Australian rules heritage by jumping quickly to intercept a big opportunity that ricocheted off Crawley’s bat and body. , grabbing her on the second grab.

Whilst swaddled by cheering team-mates, no one would have been more grateful than the successful bowler given that Cummins had been deployed in that unfamiliar role in the dying moments of the Sydney Test as he unsuccessfully battled for the final match-winning wicket. .

“It’s tough with the grille (on the crash helmet), you can’t get the ball where it’s going, I don’t know how they do it,” Cummins said at the time.

Now that you’ve seen that magic happen up close, you may also want to get some expert guidance on using the Decision Review System in reference to catches.

Not only was Burns apparently pardoned in the opening, but Malan survived a vehement shout-out in almost identical circumstances against Cameron Green when he was 13 and with England showing the first signs of a comeback at 2-44.

The ball had lodged between the bat and the left-hander’s back pad, and despite a conference between Cummins, goalkeeper Alex Carey and others, it was decided not to refer the mysterious noise to the third umpire.

A non-binding investigation by TV commentators revealed that the Aussies had missed another trick, and one executed by Malan not for the first time in the series, as he admitted that Lyon should have caught and brought him down on the Gabba.

However, Australia failed to review that incident with replays showing the ball had bounced flush from the England right-hander’s glove, denying Lyon their 400th Test wicket.

It remains one of the few theoretical ‘victories’ for tourists in the field of another forgettable Ashes visit.

Ashes Man Vodafone


Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc , Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Sam Billings, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes , Chris Woakes, Mark Wood


First exam: Australia won by nine wickets

Second test: Australia won by 275 runs

Third Test: Australia won by one inning and 14 runs

Fourth Test: tied match

Fifth Test: January 14-18, Blundstone Arena

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