Dropped catches, missed-run outs and injury doubts: England unravel on torrid day in Brisbane

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·5-min read
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  • Ben Stokes
    Ben Stokes
    Cricketer (born 1991)
  • David Warner
    David Warner
    Australian cricketer
Dropped catches, missed-run outs and injury doubts: England's torrid day in Brisbane - DARREN ENGLAND/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Dropped catches, missed-run outs and injury doubts: England's torrid day in Brisbane - DARREN ENGLAND/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Having been bowled out for 147 on day one, there was an inescapable sense of England's wheels coming off on day two as Australia closed on 343 for seven, a lead of 196 runs. England will look back on a day defined by mistakes, missed opportunties and fitness concerns.

Stokes' no-ball madness

Perhaps it was fanciful to think that Ben Stokes would immediately slip into a groove in his first red-ball match in five months. But even allowing for rustiness, his repeated overstepping was bizarre. In 30 balls bowled by Stokes in the morning session 14 were no-balls. Only when he clean-bowled David Warner for 17 (he went on to make 94) was a no-ball actually called, however.

It was later confirmed that the technology that allows the third umpire to call no-balls was not working and that the on-field umpires were therefore responsible. No-doubt unpractised, the umpires failed to spot Stokes' indiscretions. Had they done so earlier, he might have taken more care for the delivery that bowled Warner.

Jack Leach gets smashed

During the 2019 Ashes series Stuart Broad dismissed Warner seven times in just 104 balls. For this Test, however, England opted to rest Broad and play Jack Leach instead. Naturally, it was Warner who took full advantage. In Leach's second over, the left-hander twice smacked the spinner back over his head for six. Ten more boundaries followed as Warner, Marnus Labuchagne and Travis Head pursued what looked like a clear plan to hit Leach out of the attack.

The assault on England's spinner — who picked up the wicket of Labuschagne but went for 95 runs in just 11 overs — has serious consequences the rest of this match and the series. If Joe Root cannot tie up one end with spin, then the seamers will have to pick up the slack. By the end of day two Ollie Robinson, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood had already bowled 58 overs between them.

Burns drops a sitter

England already have a poor record in the cordon — since the start of last year, they’ve caught just 78 per cent of their slip chances. Only Bangladesh have a worse record in Test cricket over that period. So it continued on Thursday.

After a host of false shots, plays-and-misses and nicks that had fallen just short, Robinson induced Warner’s edge when the opener was on 48. The ball sailed towards the slip cordon at waist height and gently enough for Burns to set himself. But the Surrey skipper completely misjudged it. With Warner charging on to 94 before being dismissed, that makes Burns’ net contribution minus 46 runs at present.

Hameed and Malan miss run-outs

Every professional cricketer has certain skills which they know they can leave to autopilot. Like shying at the stumps, say. Not today. Warner, who had already been bowled by the Stokes no-ball on 17 and dropped by Burns on 48, then found himself stranded a few yards down the pitch after setting off on a misjudged run to Haseeb Hameed at short leg. To make matters worse, Warner slipped on trying to turn back, dropped his bat and put in a dive that was well short.

With three stumps for Hameed to aim at surely Warner's luck was up? But inexplicably, from just yards away, Hameed lost his footing and the throw went wide.

Dawid Malan got in on the act a few overs later too. Steve Smith was at the crease, another misjudged single was taken and again an England fielder missed with three stumps to aim at. Practice is evidently in order as there were overthrows too, including four of them late into the first new ball when an awkward throw from Stokes evaded Jos Buttler behind the stumps. It was a gift for Travis Head and a few more to help him on his way to three figures.

Stokes and Robinson look injured

Stokes did not bowl at all during the afternoon session, and when he did return after tea, 61 overs in and at a stage when England’s remaining fast bowlers were starting to toil, he was hit out of the attack. Stokes conceded 12 runs in an over during which his bowling speeds dipped into the seventies. Bowling coach Jon Lewis confirmed at the close of play that Stokes had hurt his knee on the field, but explained that England’s medical team would assess him overnight.

Robinson, who picked up three wickets and at one stage was on a hat-trick, also had to leave the field for a period during the evening session after gingerly clutching his hamstring. On returning for a final burst spell before stumps, Robinson’s bowling speeds, usually around the 80 to 85mph mark, had dipped into the low seventies. Robinson reassured England fans after play, however, telling BT Sport that he had only come off “for a bit of strapping and a bit of maintenance”, but that he felt okay.

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