At one point England led 188/1, and with their main spinner unavailable, Cummins and Co. opted for the left-field option, which worked to some extent for them as England finished the day at 278/4, still trailing by 138, with the last three wickets scored by short balls as the batsmen could not or would not restrain themselves.
England could have been at least five points behind if Marnus Labuschagne had held back from hitting the ball to a furious Harry Brook at the end of the day. Also, Joe Root might have been without a duck after another short ball had Cameron Green not overreached. This versatile player was guilty of frequently serving up no-balls, but he was also instrumental in getting the Aussies back into contention when he got rid of Pope in a predictable way.
For England, the hero of the day was Duckett, who lacked just a couple of runs to take a ton. He let Crawley become the main aggressor, playing against his natural instincts in the early part of the game, and then took advantage when conditions became favorable to play. Anything of length hardly bothered him, but when the Aussies went up, the left-handed opener couldn’t help himself, even though he wasn’t in complete control of his strokes. Pope had already been caught deep in the strike, and when Josh Hazlewood shot under Duckett’s ribs, he could only awkwardly bounce the ball to David Warner, who was well away from the ropes on the penalty foot.
When Ruth, too, fell for the trick, and Steve Smith caught the ball superbly, diving forward on the back square leg, one might have wondered about the wisdom of using the short ball. Australia was without their leading spinner, and bouncing the ball off the bounce would take away from the fast bowlers. The best approach would have been to weather the storm, as the pacers would not have been able to continue this ploy without reward indefinitely. But that’s the way Buzzball thinks or works now. Ironically, it was England skipper Ben Stokes who put his head down to prevent further mishaps at the end of the day.
It was another crazy and eventful day of Ashes cricket, and England took the upper hand in those conditions. In the afternoon the sun peeked out, the conditions softened, and the field seemed perfect for the game. After Australia had to contend with overcast skies during the first day and second morning, the second session gave England the opportunity toThe ability to strike back in a solid way.
He didn’t reach baseball, but after a solid start, Crowley and Duckett scored freely, not throwing caution to the wind. The Australian Quicks had almost no lateral movement, and the open players scored five points a game before Lyon stumped Crowley under Alex Carey’s shot.
A pragmatic spell followed when Duckett and Ollie Pope decided to play steady, given the matchup situation. Over the next few overs, the scoring rate fluctuated around two runs per game as Lyon and Cummins kept things tight. But Mitchell Stark and, surprisingly, Josh Hazlewood at one stage struck out more than seven batters per at-bat, and things seemed to be going smoothly for Stokes’ team. Stark did create some anxiety for the batsmen, but his extra pace often brought the ball to the ropes.
But adversity forced the Aussies to think outside the box, and they would hope for a first-inning lead if they could somehow make up for Lyon’s possible absence on day three.
Earlier in the day, Australia failed to make it through the first session. Getting the last five wickets for 77 runs in 90 minutes of play may seem good, but it was the minimum expected of England to stay in contention. But, having scored 416 after being sent to the field under overcast skies, with the floodlights on and the green pitch underfoot, Australia were a much happier side after completing one innings.
But the home team might think they got off a little easy. Root’s two late wickets and the fact that Smith (110) couldn’t get the score to his dad’s hundred after reaching three figures meant that Australia essentially lost their last seven wickets by exactly 100. But when Carey and Stark were dismissed fairly early on, the hosts could have hoped their rival would go for 400.
England’s bowling effort on the second morning was still a marked improvement over what they produced on Wednesday, when they seemed almost to expect the pitch and conditions to do all the work for them. There was more intent as the prospect of the match and, quite possibly, the Ashes going out of their hands became a reality. After Carey was struck out by Stuart Broad in the second inning, it all came down to how long Smith would be on the field. And although the former skipper scored his 32nd hundredth on tests, there was no talk of a partnership.was out of the question.
Brief Account: Australia 416 (Steve Smith 110, Travis Head 77, David Warner 66; Ollie Robinson 3/100, Josh Tong 3/98) vs England 278/4 (Ben Duckett 98, Zach Crawley 48; Mitchell Stark 1/75, Josh Hazlewood 1/63).