Ashes 2021-22: Brilliant Bairstow century leads England recovery

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  • Jonny Bairstow
    Jonny Bairstow
    English cricketer (born 1989)

Jonny Bairstow made a brilliant century as England fought back on day three of the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Bairstow (103) scored his seventh Test century, and his first since 2018, to stave Australia off after the hosts had reduced England to 36-4 in the morning session.

Ben Stokes, who battled on with a side strain, and Bairstow – who was hit on the thumb by a blistering Pat Cummins delivery – combined for a superb partnership of 128 to steady the ship for the tourists, who reached stumps on 258-7, trailing by 158 runs.

The start was delayed by rain on Friday, but having finished day two on 13-0, Joe Root's side were soon wishing for the weather to close in again.

Haseeb Hameed was dropped by Alex Carey in the third over, but England's opener was gone soon after, Mitchell Starc bowling him for only six.

England then lost Zak Crawley (18), Root (0) and Dawid Malan (3) without scoring a single run.

Cummins missed a caught-and-bowled chance to dismiss Stokes on nine, and the all-rounder subsequently survived a bizarre incident when Cameron Green hit the stumps but the bails did not fall off. Stokes was given out leg before wicket, but an instant review saved him.

Stokes went on to make 66 before he misjudged a delivery from Nathan Lyon and was trapped lbw, with Bairstow then getting clattered on the hand by Cummins off the next ball.

Jos Buttler went for a duck and another batting collapse seemed on the cards, but Bairstow and Mark Wood (39) took the game back to Australia, the paceman hitting three sixes in an entertaining knock, which came to an end when he gloved Cummins onto his helmet and into the hands of Lyon.

Bairstow continued to defy Australia and cut Cummins for four to reach three figures in the final over of the day.

Bairstow back with a bang

Having not been selected in the opening two Tests, Bairstow produced a stunning century in the circumstances - the first scored by an England player in a miserable series for the tourists.

Given Buttler's lack of form, Bairstow could find himself donning the gloves again in the fifith Test. England will be hoping the Yorkshireman can frustrate Australia further on Saturday and the weather could also thwart Cummins' side in their pursuit of a whitewash.

Bairstow and Stokes' partnership was only the second time a visiting duo have added 100 plus runs for the fifth wicket in Australia after their team were four down for fewer than 50.

Boland, Stokes suffer

Scott Boland (2-25) was the pick of Australia's bowlers, but the 32-year-old – who made a dream debut in Melbourne – was forced off with a side injury.

The quick went for a scan and was cleared to bowl in the nets and subsequently return for the evening session, so Australia will be hoping he is fit to fire on day four.

Stokes, meanwhile, may not be so lucky, as he was grimacing throughout his battling innings.

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