England will be eyeing early Australia wickets as thoughts drift to what might be a manageable chase for the hosts in the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
While there may be weather-related interruptions with storms forecast on Saturday, there are still three days in which to force a result after Australia went to stumps on 116 for four and a lead of 142.
Ben Stokes had earlier been England’s hero again, dragging them from 87 for five to 237 all out with a belligerent 80 containing five sixes, while Mark Wood chipped in with an astonishing eight-ball 24.
Moeen Ali then took the key wickets of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith in a tidy spell, with Australia unable to get away even though Stokes and Ollie Robinson were unable to bowl for England.
It's phenomenal how often these two step up when their team needs them! Another bagful of wkts for Cummins today, and 80 important runs under pressure for Ben Stokes keeping Eng in the contest! #Ashes2023 pic.twitter.com/DRFQGp9kGP
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) July 7, 2023
Despite his body appearing to be in rebellion against him – adding to his left knee trouble is hip discomfort for which he took a couple of pain-killing tablets – England captain Stokes conjured another defiant innings to get his side within touching distance of Australia’s first innings. His opposite number Pat Cummins also led from the front with six for 91. While he possesses an outstanding record in England with 47 wickets in nine Tests at an average of 22.02, this was his first five-for on UK soil.
Six of the best
38 - Ben Stokes (England, 2013-)
24 - Kevin Pietersen (England, 2005-2014)
20 - Ian Botham (England, 1977-1989)
20 - Steve Smith (Australia, 2010-)
17 - Brad Haddin (Australia, 2009-2015)
17 - Stuart Broad (England, 2009-)
Stokes pumped Australia’s rookie off-spinner Todd Murphy over the boundary rope five times to extend his lead over Kevin Pietersen for most Ashes sixes.
Having burst on to the scene with his breakneck pace on day one – averaging a searing 90.5mph across 11.4 overs which yielded a maiden five-wicket haul in England – Mark Wood showed no sign of slowing down after trading leather for willow. Wood’s template for backing away and swinging brought boundaries from his first three balls and three sixes in his first six balls. His luck finally ran out when another mighty heave across the line took the top-edge to mid-on. Still, Wood’s quickfire 24 roused England.
Broad problems for Warner
19 - Mike Atherton by Glenn McGrath
18 - Arthur Morris by Alec Bedser
17 - Mike Atherton by Curtly Ambrose
17 - Mike Atherton by Courtney Walsh
17 - David Warner by Stuart Broad
It was groundhog day again for David Warner, who has been well and truly muzzled in Leeds by his nemesis. It was bowled Stuart Broad, caught Zak Crawley, for a second time in two days after the Australia opener was squared up as he edged into the cordon. He will not look back fondly on this Test after scores of four and one, lasting just five balls in each innings.
Moeen at the double
2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ Test wickets for Moeen Ali!
Congratulations, Mo 🎉 https://t.co/eTlUOa8u81
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 7, 2023
Has any Test career fluctuated as much as Moeen Ali’s? Recalled after his finger drama at Edgbaston, Moeen seemed to lack a bit of snap in his action early on but then snared Labuschagne and Smith for his 199th and 200th Test wickets – albeit after some loose shots from the Australia pair. While Moeen, who held up an end as he conceded just 34 off his 17 overs in a row, often comes in for criticism, only Derek Underwood (297) and Graeme Swann (255) have more Test wickets among English spinners.
Bairstow blunders continue
"See ya, Smudge!" 👋
"What was that, mate?!? HEY!" 😠
Jonny Bairstow getting in Steve Smith's head 👀 pic.twitter.com/PyTKFuaC4s
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 7, 2023
Since controversially superseding Ben Foakes and donning the wicketkeeping gloves at the start of the summer, Jonny Bairstow’s doubters can only have grown after a subpar showing behind the stumps. His catching success rate in this series hovers at just over 50 per cent (nine pouched and eight dropped) and while it is true at least a couple of his put downs would have required outstanding reflexes, he has shelled more routine efforts. His reprieve of Labuschagne down the leg-side edged towards the latter. It was his third drop of the match but did not too prove too costly after Labuschagne was out next ball while Bairstow might have redeemed himself slightly in some English eyes with an inoffensive send-off of Smith, who seemed to take exception to being told ‘See ya, Smudge’.