England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Three
England v Australia - 3rd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Three

History and Cummins should calm Aussie nerves

England captain Joe Root's bid to go from zero to hero remains on track with the star batsman unbeaten at stumps on day three.

Root compiled a brilliant 75 runs in the afternoon to give England an outside shot at chasing down Australia's target of 359 runs at Leeds.

Earlier, Marnus Labuschagne's 80 appeared to put Australia on the verge of retaining the Ashes, but there remains work to do for the bowlers on day four.

Root and Ben Stokes will resume on Sunday night with England needing 203 runs to win, while Australia know seven wickets is all that stands between them and a position where they cannot lose the series.

 

 

 

MARNUS PASSES EVERY TEST…

Marnus Labuschagne was given two concussion tests in a matter of overs after twice wearing short balls on his helmet.

Stuart Broad's ball whizzed off Labuschagne's lid to the boundary and, almost comically, after replays confirmed there was no bat involved, the voice of Broad took over the stump microphone, demanding the runs be taken off Labuschagne (and they were).

The second blow looked far more serious, as a Jofra Archer bouncer followed Labuschagne and, while Labuschagne swayed out of the way, the ball flew into the bottom of his grille. Australian captain Tim Paine revealed before the match that Labuschagne wouldn't mind dancing to England's chin music.

"Marnus is strange. He seems to like getting hit on the head," Paine said.

It rang true, as Marnus bounced straight to his feet and lifted a boundary over slips against Archer two balls later.

Marnus Labuschagne once more wore multiple blows to his person but appeared completely unfazed.
Marnus Labuschagne once more wore multiple blows to his person but appeared completely unfazed.

 

…AND THEN FAILS GOLDEN RUN RULE

What do they say? Never run on a misfield? Well, Marnus attempted just that, and Joe Denly recovered to run him out.

The throw that caught Labuschagne short kept the batsman lite

rally centimetres from completing the run, and equalling his highest Test score of 81. That wicket signalled the end of Australia's resistance.

 

AUSSIES SET 359 TO WIN

Jofra Archer's pair of tailender wickets knocked Australia over for 246, an overall lead of 358 runs.

It set England a historic chase - England's highest ever successful run chase in Test history was just 7/322 against Australia in Melbourne, way back in 1928. And only three teams have ever chased more than 300 in the fourth innings at Leeds, they are; Australia 3/404 (1948), West Indies 5/322 (2017) and England 4/315 (2001).

The Aussie romp in 1948 was built around Sir Donald Bradman's unbeaten 173.

 

Pat Cummins’ ball to remove England opener Jason Roy was an absolute jaffa.
Pat Cummins’ ball to remove England opener Jason Roy was an absolute jaffa.

 

FOUR BALLS OF MAGIC

Battling openers Rory Burns (7) and Jason Roy (8) fell within four balls, as England slumped from 0/15 to 2/15 early in the day.

A Hazlewood delivery was short enough to leave, but Burns couldn't help himself as he fended it safely into the sure hands of David Warner, who gobbled up his fifth slips catch for the match.

Then, Roy, copped an absolute peach from Pat Cummins, the ball crashing into the top of off stump. As England batting coach Graham Thorpe said on Friday, sometimes you simply get a ball that is just too good. Will Roy be dropped down the order or completely out of the side for the fourth Test?

 

Joes Root and Denly combined to put on the highest partnership of the match at Headingley.
Joes Root and Denly combined to put on the highest partnership of the match at Headingley.

 

NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOES

That was the final joy for Australia as the Joes - Root and Denly - safely batted their country to tea and beyond.

While Denly played 22 false shots (12 misses and 10 edges) early, Root was class from the get-go.

As Ricky Ponting noted, apart from a few rash cover drives from Denly early, it was impressive Test batting. With oodles of time left in the Test, the Joes were able to safely leave anything wide and patiently chip away at the mammoth total.

A few sloppy misfields after tea also helped their cause, including a boundary gifted by a Marcus Harris muddle in the first over.

The partnership, the biggest of the match, reached 126 before Denly (50) gloved a dead-straight short ball from Josh Hazlewood to outstretched keeper Tim Paine. But there was a pulse for England.

 

 

WORST DECISION YET

Hazlewood's lbw appeal drew the raised finger of umpire Chris Gaffaney, but Joe Root immediately called for the review, and for good reason. Root smashed the ball on to his pads. It was an awful decision that was swiftly overturned.

The nightmare series for the officials rolls on. That was Gaffaney's fifth overturned decision at Leeds.

 

RUNS DRY UP

Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon combined for a scintillating spell late in the day.

In fact, Hazlewood's brilliance belied his wicket column, as he looked threatening and went up for several appeals but couldn't quite breakthrough.

At one stage Hazlewood and Lyon had sent down 10 consecutive overs for a return of 1/6, and among that Hazlewood boasted a spell of seven overs, four maidens, 1/3.

The second new ball will be available after eight overs on day four.

 

BUT LYON NEEDS TO STRIKE

Nathan Lyon's last three innings have yielded 0/106. The offspinner needs one more scalp to move past Dennis Lillee's 355 Test wickets.

Australia will desperately be hoping it comes early on day four. Lyon couldn't trouble Ben Stokes (two off 50) late in the final session.

 

STEVE SMITH BACK IN THE NETS

Steve Smith's 15-minute net session before the start of play was a significant step in his recovery from concussion.

Seven days after Jofra Archer knocked Smith's lights out with a brutal bouncer, the master batsman faced throwdowns from batting coach Graeme Hick before Cricket Australia doctor Richard Saw tapped on his watch, telling Smith it was time to put the bat down.

It was also Smith's third running session in as many days, and he is on track to face Derbyshire on Thursday. In a three-day game with first-class status, how many runs could Smith score against the embattled county side?

 

England's Joe Root came off the back of consecutive ducks to produce an innings of quality.
England's Joe Root came off the back of consecutive ducks to produce an innings of quality.

 

WELL BATTED, SKIPPER

Joe Root was the first Englishman in the nets before play started, calling in batting coach Graham Thorpe for a hit.

It was obvious that, after a nightmare day in front of his home Yorkshire crowd, Root wanted to make amends on perhaps the most important day of his captaincy.

Root made a second-straight duck, dropped Marnus Labuschagne on 14 (he made 80) and had his team skittled for 67 on day two. Well, on day three he played beautifully.

Root didn't need to use his feet and looked a class above, closing in on an Ashes ton that, if it leads to a remarkable victory, will be hard to top.

England reached 3/156 at stumps with 203 more runs required. Maybe batting at No. 3 isn't so bad after all. The chance for a famous innings on Root's home ground awaits.

 

MIKE TIPS PAINE FOR TIM

It was late on day two when Ricky Ponting and Mike Atherton discussed who should make way for Steven Smith in Manchester.

'Athers' - a former England captain and respected journalist - said he would drop captain Tim Paine. Really?

Under that rejig, Matthew Wade would wear the gloves and Travis Head or Pat Cummins would toss the coin.

Ponting, quite rightly, poured cold water on the theory, and Atherton's response said it all. It went along the lines of: "It's 3am in Australia … I can get away with that".

News Corp Australia


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