Jofra Archer’s first Test wicket provided the catalyst as England’s bowlers enjoyed a profitable third morning against Australia at Lord’s, but heavy rain ruined their hopes of capitalising as the remainder of the day was washed out.
Showers forced the teams off just before the lunch break, with the tourists 80 for four in response to the home side’s 258 and the weather refused to relent, meaning the second Ashes Test has now lost five full sessions and could already be meandering to a draw.
England’s best hopes of avenging their defeat in the series opener at Edgbaston probably involved them skittling Australia cheaply in their first innings, but they must be mindful of balancing risk and reward in the next two days.
A sold-out crowd would have been frustrated not to see more than 24.1 overs, with a partial refund scant consolation for the missed opportunity of seeing England’s buoyant seam attack continue doing battle with Steve Smith.
Archer, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad took a wicket apiece in a half-hour period that saw Australia lose three for 11, but the familiar sight of Smith at the crease – an infuriating blend of tics, flourishes and precise decision-making – meant they could not yet claim to have the upper hand.
Tweet of the day
— Sussex Cricket (@SussexCCC) August 16, 2019
Moment of magic
Bancroft and Usman Khawaja helped Australia double their overnight tally to 60 during a wicketless first nine overs on Friday. England finally made a breakthrough with the fifth ball of the next over as Archer enjoyed a milestone moment. The Barbados-born bowler, bowling at more than 90 miles per hour for the second successive day, smashed the pads of Bancroft. Australia opted for a review but the decision was upheld to give Archer his first wicket at Test level.
Smith soaking up pressure
England fought back with three wickets on Friday morning but, until Steve Smith is out, they will not be able to settle. Smith, whose twin centuries changed the game at Edgbaston, seemed content to soak up the pressure and remained unbeaten on 13 from 40 balls. Archer’s first ball to the 30-year-old topped 93 miles per hour, albeit sailing harmlessly a yard outside off stump.
After a washed-out opening day was followed by uninterrupted action on day two, rain returned to halt proceedings on Friday afternoon. A productive first session for England which yielded three wickets was cut short by a couple of minutes due to a downpour and the covers remained on for the duration of lunch and the rest of the afternoon. Encouragingly, the Met Office forecasts a dry day on Saturday with sunny intervals and cloudy spells.
August 17: England v Australia, day four of the second Ashes Test, Lord’s.