Australia were in a commanding position at the start of day three and in a day of twists and turns, It was vintage Ashes cricket on show at the Adelaide oval, with both teams being in a fantastic point at some point during the day. Absolute classic on the table here.
Cummins opened up to Cook with England seriously needing cold hard runs on the board. Cook received the maiden with a fair bit of ease, leaving Vince facing Hazlewood in the second of the day. Could Vince get some more runs and show that his innings at the Gabba wasn’t just a complete fluke? No. He couldn’t. You wouldn’t be able to guess how he got out either. Non moving ball well outside off and back of the length, that did not need to be played. Oh wait, that’s just how he gets himself out every innings. Hazlewood got his first of the match, leaving England on 31-2. Vince, you idiot!
His skipper didn’t wait too long either to completely get himself out. A much better ball than the Vince dismissal, but still another that didn’t really need playing. This is the difference between Australia and England at the moment. The Australians have really fought for their wickets, earning the right to feel comfortable, whereas the English are playing at those balls, which have been left by the hosts all series. Cummins gets his man with England in serious trouble. The 9 added on by Root left England on 50-3.
Malan came to the crease, looking instantly better than any of the England batsman. Starc tried bouncing him out, and Cummins found a bit of seam movement to put the Batsman under pressure but Malan was fairly equal to it. on 67-3, Malan was given out after an eternity of decision time from Aleem Dar. After being reviewed, the ball was judged to be going over the top. England still under huge pressure.
After a few more overs from Cummins and Starc, Smith brought Lyon on to try and break up the partnership. This he did, with Cook prodding outside his off stump guiding the ball for an easy Smith catch. 37 runs might just top score for England, the only batsman so far who has batted with a modicum of patience. England were in serious, serious trouble now on 80-4.
Ali came into the crease adding a quick few runs with Malan bringing up the hundred and a little bit of relief for England, however with any joy in the English fans, it was short lived. Cummins came on to bowl, instantly impacting the game, continuing his fantastic series, and taking the wicket of finding seam movement into the left hander, who gloved it to Paine, who took a very good catch, low to his right. The first time today that an England batsman has properly got himself out. Fantastic ball, and a huge wicket. Cue Bumble “START THE CAR!!!!” 102-5.
Bairstow came in next looking to be positive, especially against Cummins, with Ali fending off Lyon at the other end. Despite a Bairstow nick behind and a couple of edgy drives, with Cummins really forcing the issue, England managed to limp in to the first break on 128-5. Do England need a partnership here? More than anything. Do you see both batsman batting smartly and just staying in? Course not.
Lyon and Starc opened up after the break, putting Bairstow and Ali under serious pressure. The Aussie attack have been superlative today. Barely put a foot wrong with spell after spell of wicket threat. I couldn’t see a single foot put wrong.
Soon Moeen Ali became the latest batsman to get himself out for no reason. Lyon tossed the ball up, after being sliced in the air the ball before, with the result being possibly one of the worst shots ever played in ashes cricket. Ali chipped it back to the cult hero Gazza who took a fantastic catch, diving to his left. If you didn’t see it and fancy a laugh, go ahead. What was he thinking with England in such a state. I feel for the selectors most, who have a busy time ahead. England were on 132-6, with Ali finishing up on 25.
Would you be surprised at all to find out that another England batsman threw his wicket away? Yet again the answer is no. The Australian attack has been as good as the England order has been bad. And this is some of the best bowling you will see in an ashes series. Bairstow was the man to go, after Starc pulled off a spectacular catch which Bairstow drilled at him. He did well to get one hand to the ball, palming it up for a second bite at the cherry. Really good cricket from Australia. Top notch stuff.
Overton was next in, and unsurprisingly he was attacked immediately. Lots of short stuff to him, just like they did against Jake Ball. Hazlewood came very close to taking his wicket with a thick edge bouncing just short of first slip. Cummins bowled the next over, with Overton almost being run out by short leg, Bancroft and having a walloped pull shot magnificently stopped on the boundary by Hazlewood, who palmed the bouncing ball back into play. I am really running out of superlatives for this Australian team.
Overton got quite the welcome to test match cricket with everything flying in and around the grill. He played it better than most of the England top order prompting Hazlewood to be taken off after failing to trouble the number nine. Starc came on at one end, with Lyon being brought on surprisingly late with the state of the ball.
England managed to get to 200 with a classy sweep shot over the top for four behind square. Shortly after Starc ended England’s best partnership of the match of 66. Woakes the man gone with a top edge being caught easily by the bowler. Classic room service wicket, easily delivered. A much better innings from Woakes, accumulating 36, who is in the side for his batting as well. This left England on 207-8, requiring 36 to avoid the follow on.
England went into the dinner break with Broad on zero and Overton on 36, with Lyon opening up and Cummins back on at the other end. England requiring 24 to avoid the follow-on. Shortly after Broad was off the mark and Overton became England’s top scorer in his first innings with a perfectly played check drive.
Broad soon fell on just 3, edging it behind off Lyon to Paine. This wicket left England on 227-9 and agonisingly 16 short of the follow-on. Anderson came in but no more runs were added to the England score.
227 is actually a lot better than it could have been, all things considered. At 147-7, England should consider themselves lucky they managed to pile almost another hundred on due to the superb innings of Overton and Woakes with their 66 run partnership. It’s pretty woeful that a number 9 on debut is holding up the side with bat and ball. Excluding Stoneman and Malan, the entire side threw their wickets away.
I’m not sure if there is a single bad thing to say about the Australian team. Yet again, their bowling and fielding was spectacular. Starc took 3, in his best performance so far, barely dipping under 90 MPH, Lyon taking a well deserved 4, including a flying catch. Jimmy Anderson was his 54th wicket of the year. Incredible figures. Hazlewood was good but not great and Cummins deserved more wickets yet again, only taking two. So far up there for man of the series. Australia decided to bat at 215 ahead, controversially not enforcing the follow-on, especially with the night session coming up. The old adage, they think it’s all over, it is now springs to mind.
Broad and Anderson opened up the bowling to Warner and Bancroft again, with a wicket in the first 5 probably the only way England can take this match back. It was a top start from the openers really improved from their first innings, pitching the ball up a lot more, with Broad reviewing an edge that wasn’t there from Warner with a cracker of a ball just missing Warner’s outside edge. Anderson found that crucial breakthrough, getting Bancroft caught behind in the third over with a pitched up ball, finding the infamous night session swing. This wicket opened the door to the game, with Australia on 5-1 but the next few overs left England as spectators as it rapidly swung shut again.
Broad and Anderson carried on really threatening Khawaja, but the two looked extremely settled, playing and missing a few, but not showing any signs of getting out. Woakes and Overton both had a crack at the two without success before Anderson was brought back on.
A promising over from Anderson ended up with the wicket of Khawaja, who carried on his indifferent tour form by being trapped by the England fast bowler for LBW. The decision was reviewed but the decision was upheld with a very close umpire’s call decision on both the impact on the pads and the wicket. This sent the barmy army into full song, and Usman Khawaja on his way for just 20. Australia lead by 256 at this point with 8 wickets in hand.
Warner added 2 more before another huge wicket for England dismissed him. Woakes exposed his weak area around his legs moving it across the left armer for an easy Joe Root catch. Smith likes to not enforce the follow-on, but that far ahead, with England’s batting lineup in the condition it’s in, and with the most difficult test match batting conditions on such a good pitch, the decision to bat seemed mental now. 41-3
This left England in a strong position, much stronger than they could have been with Smith and Handscomb at the crease, both on 0, with Handscomb almost getting a first baller and Smith reviewing an LBW decision narrowly pitching outside leg. Australia were rattled. Inside edge after inside edge from Smith followed with the skipper visibly rattled, before regaining confidence with a beautifully played clip off the legs. This is the best Woakes has bowled all series, with him really testing the two early on.
The end of the day was 7 overs away, and it couldn’t come quick enough for Smith who was looking incredibly shaky and even worse than he looked in the first innings. England smelt blood.
And indeed they did! Lightning doesn’t strike twice with Smith’s second LBW review failing on umpire’s call. Woakes with an incredible spell! Might just save his place for the next test with Wood knocking on the door. Broad had a Handscomb edge drop short, the fourth edge to drop short in similar fashion in the innings so far with the carry being very inconsistent still.
Woakes’s next over saw more playing and missing, this time from the nightwatchman Lyon, hitting him on the thigh pad, which gave him the opportunity to have a stretch and bring the physio on taking out the day’s last two minutes.
Well, well, well! This Ashes series is just full of twists and turns. If they can get these two out early on tomorrow then it’s England’s game. The decision to follow-on was, as predicted utter madness. But all Australia need is another 100 runs and this England batting order will be put under serious pressure. Australia’s two big fish are out of the pond, and it’s all out there to win. Huge day four! Game on with the hosts on 53-4, 268 ahead!