105th over: England 292-9 (Buttler 32, Leach 4) Buttler takes a single from the fifth ball of Lyon’s over. Keeps strike.
104th over: England 291-9 (Buttler 31, Leach 4) Leach with Starc to deal with. Hops across to block one, ducks a bouncer. Then he drives Mitchell Starc for four! Wasn’t intending to, it was just a straight push, but he times it nicely, beats mid-off, and rolls down the ground. Matthew Wade belts after it, dives, scoops back… but his elbow is touching the rope. The crowd go up! Just as well for Leach, because he’d stopped in the middle of the pitch to chat with Buttler and might have been run out.
Last ball of the over, and… hit on the pad! Appeal! Not out! And that was hitting leg stump, says HawkEye. Starc just laughs in disbelief, he was sure it was plumb. Australia have no reviews left,once again. It had some angle on it, looked halfway like it might be sliding down, but HawkEye says smashing leg stump.
Brace yourself for the response.
103rd over: England 287-9 (Buttler 31, Leach 0) Buttler is in two minds about what to do here. He plays a big swat at Lyon, along the ground to mid-off for none. Then prods and gets an inside edge past his stumps for none. Then tries to cut a single but hits it too well and gets four! With the leg-side field packed and close, he can’t turn a single from the last ball.
102nd over: England 283-9 (Buttler 27, Leach 0) Big cheers as Jack Leach comes to the crease. What can he do with the bat this time, in a summer of big innings for him. He defends Starc’s sixth ball and survives.
Wicket! Broad b Starc 5 (England 283-9)
Bowled him! Straight through, and Starc’s record of hitting timber continues. The over starts with swing and difficulty, Broad somehow getting a bit of bat on it. Then hops across his stumps and tries to glance, but misses. The same again. But eventually a length ball seams back into the left-hander a bit, beats his prod, and takes his off stump out of the ground.
101st over: England 283-8 (Buttler 27, Broad 5) Lyon again to Broad, who manages to squeeze a single after a few balls. You keep thinking that Buttler will tee off against Lyon, but he plays circumspectly with the ball still spinning big, and only keeps out the last ball rather than trying to work the strike. Broad will have to face Starc for up to a whole over.
100th over: England 282-8 (Buttler 27, Broad 4) Starc to continue after his one over before the break, and Buttler is willing to take the single from the second ball. I’m not sure about that, Starc could run through Broad more easily than most. Not this time though, as Starc bowls too much on leg stump and it thuds away for a leg bye. Buttler aims a big drive but straight to mid-off. Misses the next down leg side. Then hit on the pad from an inside edge. 16 to avoid the follow-on.
99th over: England 280-8 (Buttler 26, Broad 4) Back from the buffet and ready to rumble. Lyon has changed ends, given that Starc changed ends before the break. Lyon is now bowling from the Statham end of the ground, facing the Pavilion. Broad is facing, adding a couple of runs on the sweep before carefully extending his long limbs to block out the rest.
That’s a definite concern. We saw how it ruined Aaron Finch for a good six months or so. He finally got his mojo back for the World Cup, but playing Test cricket didn’t help him beyond being something he had wanted to achieve. Roy looks pretty miserable out there for the most part, and that’s reflected in the poor fielding too.
Lunch – England 278-8
A tiny victory for England, at least making sure that they’ll take two more overs out of the game for the innings changeover, whenever that may be. Every additional over that they can take out by batting could be vital, and a double whammy: not just the overs that England bat, but each run they score is a run that Australia have to take the time to score back.
England are 20 short of avoiding the follow-on, but after bowling 98 overs there is no chance that Australia will enforce it. They will bat again, add to their lead which is currently 219, then declare when they feel very, very safe.
Or Jos Buttler will make a freakish hundred with the tail and Australia will bat for a draw, or Australia will be rissoled in the third innings and England will have a decent target to chase.
Or it will rain.
Some of those are less likely than others. It’s lunch time! Grab a sandwich, and I’ll be back in a bit.
98th over: England 278-8 (Buttler 26, Broad 2) Bowling change, Starc with the last over before lunch. Buttler’s tactics have changed, as he glides the second ball to third man but doesn’t take a single. No interest in giving Starc a look at Broad. Nearly bowled third ball, left alone near off stump! Nearly bowled fourth ball, by one that shapes into the right-hander, beats his inside edge and misses his off stump. Starc errs too wide with the fifth, and as the field creeps in, the sixth is just wide enough to leave. Buttler survives! England get to lunch!
97th over: England 278-8 (Buttler 26, Broad 2) Half the field is on the fence, half is up. Two slips, cover, mid-on, mid-off. Then in the deep, third man, point, square leg and long leg. Buttler chooses the third ball to work a single square of the wicket. Broad with a short leg, leg gully, and a point quite close. Only long leg is deep. Short balls coming. Ducked. The next hits him, on the shoulder as he turns away. It’s a no-ball. Broad won’t like that because now he has to face another. I wonder if that was deliberate, just to have another couple of balls at him. Broad blocks out the rest of the over though.
Buttler needs to find 20 more runs to avoid the follow-on. (Not that Australia will enforce it. But it’s nice to do.)
96th over: England 276-8 (Buttler 25, Broad 2) Lyon to the left-handed Broad, with two slips in place, but Broad eases it wide of the second and gets through for a single. The field spreads for Buttler, so he takes advantage of that by driving another run. Happy for Broad to face up. Lyon shreds a ball away from the bat, but Broad leaves. A straight one from around the wicket could do him. The next beats the edge and Paine takes the bails. Another over done. Eight minutes until the scheduled lunch, but the umpires might extend the session at eight wickets down. The follow-on is 22 away.
“Is every second email complaining about lack of discipline?” asks Andrew Hammet. In short, yes. But go on. “English batsmen like impatient kids, not able to just stick at something for a while – like defending? I am puzzled as to how they just fall regularly for the offer to swing at one. Like everybody else?”
Like everybody else.
95th over: England 274-8 (Buttler 24, Broad 1) Cummins to Stuart Broad then, who is no longer the most confident against fast bowling. He plays a couple of false shots, bouncing the ball near the keeper, then near the bowler. Cummins tries a bouncer but gets too carried away. It flies! Huge bounce, over the stepladder dweller in Broad, over Paine, and deemed five wides. Broad punches the fifth ball to point for a single, then Buttler flays a square drive for four!
England are 24 away from avoiding the follow-on.
94th over: England 264-8 (Buttler 20, Broad 0) Lyon getting plenty of stick from the crowd, and Buttler drives him firmly through the covers for four! Top shot. Big appeal to follow though, as Buttler steps outside off to play, then decides to pad the ball away, but turns his body and lets it hit him. The Australians appeal, and it’s an arse-before-wicket decision that they’re asking for. Buttler has been hit on the butt(ler) in front of off stump.
Paine reviews! I think they just want this comical moment immortalised in a dismissal. And it’s not a bad shout, but HawkEye says the ball is just creeping over the off bail.
Lyon finishes the over on leg stump, and Buttler glances another four!
93rd over: England 256-8 (Buttler 12) Very little left for Buttler then, with Broad coming down the staircase and Leach to come.
Wicket! Archer c Paine b Cummins 1 (England 256-8)
Buttler has no interest in protecting Archer. Takes a single off his pads first ball, a no-ball, and leaves his teammate to the bowling. Most of the over is short balls for Archer to duck, but he has a big slash at a wide ball that misses, then a dabble at a ball closer to his body that produces an edge. Short and cramping him for room, and the last ball of the over brings his wicket. A simple take for Paine.
92nd over: England 254-7 (Buttler 11, Archer 1) Lyon on to bowl to Archer, in the hope that the tailender will play another daft slog like the one he tried at Headingley that could have cost them the run chase. Boundary riders to the leg side. The ball spinning into the pads, short leg interested. Archer restrains himself, keeps the bowler out.
91st over: England 254-7 (Buttler 11, Archer 1) Mitchell Starc can be so off, and then so on. He’s barely playable at the moment, hooping another ball straight through Buttler that somehow misses his stumps. Then gets one that straightens and takes the outside edge, parried by Smith at slip for two. A third ball is well outside the off stump, bounces in front of the keeper, hits a rough spot of turf, and nearly whacks Paine in the face as it shoots up and over the keeper for four byes. How are batsmen supposed to anticipate anything?
90th over: England 248-7 (Buttler 9, Archer 1) Hazlewood to Archer, who does the right thing and doesn’t try to swing anything to the fence. A lot of short balls, and he just gets out of the way. A maiden.
Marie Meyer wants to know what the follow-on mark is: 297 is indeed the number. David Seare is arguing that Tim Paine should pop England back in and have Sunday off. That’s great if it works, but if doesn’t you have a cooked set of bowlers with three days until their next outing.
89th over: England 248-7 (Buttler 9, Archer 1) The new ball has done it for Starc, and Starc has done it for Australia. Both overnight batsmen removed by the left-armer without much scoreboard damage. Jofra Archer is next to the crease, and he strolls a single that should have seen him run out by yards. Buttler has little choice but to get things moving, surely? He gets an overpitched delivery from Starc and drives it gorgeously for four. All power. Before Stokes was out, Buttler had already driven the first ball of the over in the air for another four.
Wicket! Stokes c Smith b Starc 26 (England 243-7)
That’s the big one! Stokes caught at second slip. Starc is the bowler who has made the left-hander uncomfortable – he did in the World Cup and he has again this morning. And in the end he gets his man. Pace, a decent length, no appreciable swing, and it just had Stokes pushing down the line of his off stump but not quite covering the line of the ball, which takes the outside edge for a comfortable catch. England in real trouble now, still 50-odd runs short of the follow on.
88th over: England 238-6 (Stokes 26, Buttler 0) Back from the hydration interval, Hazlewood bowls short and he’s hooked for four! Off the top edge, all streak, but it soars high and long! Mitch Marsh is standing in uffish mood in his orange vest outside the boundary behind the keeper and for a minute it looks like the ball will clobber him on the scone, but it bounces in front and he takes it calmly in one hand and lobs it back to Paine.
How’s this: Paine, having chased all the way back towards the rope by this point, takes the throw, throws it up in the air, hops over the rope, hops back in, and takes the rebound. Wicketkeepers don’t get many chances for the boundary-line glory catch, so he practises when he can.
Next ball Paine is in action again, diving and trying to stop a short ball that diverts from Stokes’ hip, but it goes wide for four leg byes!
“Did anyone else spot a peculiar moment yesterday?” asks David Brown. “Lyon removed and then swapped the bails at his bowling end. I believe this is a superstition of his. As soon as Lyon returned to walk back to his mark, Root,the non facing batsman, cheekily reversed the process.”
87th over: England 230-6 (Stokes 22, Buttler 0) Starc looks a decent show against Stokes, who has taken Australia’s right-armers apart with such composure in his last two Tests. A few hopping shots before the batsman gets one full enough to drive, though Cummins keeps the scoring to one from mid-on. Drinks.
86th over: England 229-6 (Stokes 21, Buttler 0) Just to the crease and Hazlewod is already giving Jos Buttler a working over. Past the outside edge. Into the body.
“Can you here the ridiculous noise from the microlites?” asks Stephen Morley about the camera drones over the ground. “Are the commentators not hearing this?Why is no one saying anything about it. It must surely be distracting for the players.”
I’ve seen some suggestions that certain commentators may be the ones creating the drone. I can’t hear it because I’m inside, but I’ll duck out later and investigate.
85th over: England 228-6 (Stokes 20, Buttler 0) Well. No mattter how loose Starc can be, there’s always that chance of threat. A couple of balls after a short wide plonk that Bairstow clobbered through cover for four, there’s the ball that Bairstow is expecting just outside off stump but that hits middle instead. It still was nowhere near the length to drive. A real mistake from Bairstow to be thinking anything but getting through the first few overs of the new ball.
Wicket! Bairstow b Starc (England 228-6)
Here comes Mitchell Starc at last! Gets him this time, with another fast and swinging delivery. There was that sense of threat immediately with him bending the ball. But where Bairstow played the first over of that sensibly, this time he decides to play a big drive at the ball on his pads. Bad idea, as it curves in the air to beat his straight whack and take middle stump.
84th over: England 224-5 (Stokes 20, Bairstow 13) Hazlewood torches Stokes! Beaten all over. The ball cuts back into the left-hander off the seam, beats his inside edge and somehow creeps over middle stump! More close shaves than intake day for the Marines. Maiden.
Alex emails from Whittington Hospital. “Long time reader, first time emailer here. I’m currently at A&E after a fall this morning out running. Really enjoying focusing on the precarious nature of England’s position to detract from my ailments. Keep up the great work!”
I was in St Vincent’s when they brought Joe Root to emergency in 2018. Exclusive access. You might seem him come in to get his tackle repacked after that crotch shot he took yesterday from Starc. Get better soon Alex. I’ve often said that running takes more lives than it saves.
83rd over: England 224-5 (Stokes 20, Bairstow 13) Stokes is looking ominous again. Gets a short ball from Starc that’s an in-between length, so he plays a whip-wristed swat shot, like a tennis cross-court volley, out in front of square towards the boundary for two runs. Deep square leg is back for the bouncer. Starc combs back beautifully with a curling ball that takes the inside edge and… beats leg stump! For four runs! No control there, it should have bowled him but he’s got away with it. Next ball, Stokes drives and he’s dropped! Dropped by Starc in his follow-through! That went back fairly fast, a bit to Starc’s right but he got both hands to it. We’ve seen him take some unbelievable catches off his own bowling, one-handed and all. That was relatively simple in comparison, but it’s gone down, and Stokes gets another run.
You don’t give Steve Smith chances, and you don’t give Ben Stokes them either…
(Well, obviously that’s a meaningless statement because people do, and have, which is why I’m saying it, and the fact that you shouldn’t is an inherent precondition of the idea of a contest itself. But you know. There are things we have to say in reporting on sport, or the Guild writes a stern letter.)
82nd over: England 217-5 (Stokes 13, Bairstow 13) Hazlewood has the shiny new toy from the Anderson End, and immediately has the ball cutting back in as he did yesterday, up in an appeal but it was hitting Bairstow high on the thigh pad and slightly too close to leg stump. He overpitches next ball though, and Bairstow drives back past the bowler’s dive and too straight for mid-off! Wade ends up on the turf as well. Four runs. Hazlewood comes back with another corker, decking back to miss the off stump by a fraction as Bairstow leaves.
81st over: England 213-5 (Stokes 13, Bairstow 9) New ball. New bowler. Mitchell Starc had a fairly dirty day yesterday, as you can read about in my piece below. He is of course the sort of bowler who can suddenly have a great day in the space of five or six balls. His first is on target, just outside Bairstow’s off stump. His next two are beauties! Swing, from a fuller length, on the line of the off stump. One Bairstow allows to go just over his bails, the next he manages to get bat behind, just. He’s teased by the fourth, leaving as it bends back towards him. Serious movement. Another, into the pads, but Bairstow is playing this tough over really well, hanging back and anticipating the swing and this time even scrambling a single as he deflects to leg. Starc with one ball at the lefty bowls a good fuller ball that starts on middle and swings to off, but Stokes reads it. Great start for the bowler.
80th over: England 212-5 (Stokes 13, Bairstow 8) The last over before the new ball becomes available. Bairstow drives a full ball back underneath Lyon for a single. Stokes clips cleanly square but straight to Warner at square leg. Steve Smith is back at first slip for the spinner, and there’s a second slip in the form of Marnus Labuschagne. Stokes sees out the over.
Kim Thonger emails from Madrid to say that nobody has heard of Steve Smith there. I’d also guess that The Bull might have met a nastier end than he did in South Africa.
79th over: England 211-5 (Stokes 13, Bairstow 7) Lovely ball from Cummins! Across Stokes, then it decks off the seam away from the bat and just beats the edge. He was nowhere against that from over the wicket. Cummins too full the next ball though, and flicked fine for a run. Three slips for YJB who leaves the ball alone so as not to give any of them any work. Backward point for a big shot, no gully in the conventional sense. Short-ish cover, mid-off, mid-on, midwicket, but he splits the last two off his pads and Hazlewood fumbles as he dives to give away two extra runs, having to track back towards the boundary. Then nearly adds an overthrow but Wade at mid-off backs him up.
78th over: England 207-5 (Stokes 12, Bairstow 4) Big appeal against Bairstow who doesn’t offer a shot! He was hit miles outside off stump but the ball is spinning miles. It could easily have turned enough, but there’s no way an umpire can be sure of that, it would be guessing. HawkEye reckons it was missing off stump by a sliver. In the old days batsmen could pad up to those all day. Now you have to be careful. If the computer says yes…
77th over: England 206-5 (Stokes 11, Bairstow 4) Young Jonny Bairstow has a job to do, and so far he’s being a good boy. Not trying anything expansive as he blocks and leaves a Cummins over. There’s still a bit of conventional swing with the old ball, even at this stage of decrepitude. It’s sprightly.
76th over: England 206-5 (Stokes 11, Bairstow 4) Nathan Lyon will start from the Jimmy Anderson End. Old mates, those two. Starc and Hazlewood to take the new ball in a few overs, presumably. Lyon gives it good flight and drop immediately, he doesn’t need to warm up. The right-handed Bairstow has a look at him. There’s big turn immediately for Lyon, one ball going all the way across Bairstow and past his legs from well outside off. He plays a similar ball off his pads but the backward square is in the right spot. Finally there’s a single to end the over, tapped to midwicket.
75th over: England 205-5 (Stokes 11, Bairstow 3) Cummins may be feeling a bit stiff and sore after yesterday. He bowls a relatively gentle couple of first balls, then on the pads of Bairstow for a single. Drops too short to Stokes, who swivels and pulls in a contained fashion along the ground to deep backward for four. Cummins is on the money by the end of the over, just outside the left-hander’s off stump at 87 miles per hour.
Hello all, thanks JP. Pat Cummins will start the day after his marathon spell yesterday. Bairstow to face, Stokes at the far end, England 297 behind. Great mood in the ground already, it’s still grey but not nearly as cold or windy today. Should be an excellent day of cricket ahead (here’s hoping, anyway).
Here’s the TMS overseas link. Listen and watch, folks.
I’ll see you again tomorrow (presuming England don’t do something utterly horrendous over the next few hours).
“What’s all this ‘only Australia can win’ stuff?” emails Andrew Cosgrove. “I seem to remember England once played in a match where they were bowled out for 67, conceding a first innings deficit of plenty. I’m pretty sure people were saying then, only one team could win that.” That first-innings deficit was only 112, and time was not a factor. England are still 300 from a lead before they even have to contend with taking ten Australian wickets. So, yeah, I’m comfortable tempting fate.
Scott Blair wants to nominate another sunshine song to brighten your morning. “If we’re looking for songs that contain encouraging thoughts about today’s weather, the legendary Nazareth have it nailed. May the Sun Shine…” Worth it for the braces alone.
Mitchell Starc seemed to be blossoming into the most feared bowler in cricket a couple of years ago but now he finds himself on the fringes of Australia’s attack. Geoff Lemon put his considerable intellect towards figuring out why.
Starc is the best white-ball bowler in the world. He can be unstoppable in a format where batsmen have to attack him and where the approach for his 10 overs is known ahead of time. One-day bowling is a sonnet, Test matches are a verse novel. The tyranny of the white page applies to the white clothes.
Simon McMahon is joining in with the Brexit bantz. “I think I might have heard this somewhere else this week, but let’s just get this done, eh? If Stokes goes first ball we can all then get on with the rest of our day. It’d be nice if the series went to the Oval, but that’s just more delay. Get it done now. I’d rather be … well, you get the point.”
Rory Burns has been one of England’s few bright spots this series so far and he showed again yesterday he has the temperament to open the batting for his countries for many years to come. Barney Ronay sings his praises here.
Burns has been a little frantic against the short ball. Understandably so. County cricket does not provide regular 90mph pace trios to help groove your method. But something has changed here. Burns is a problem-solver, a man constantly refining his technique, an example what the tracksuited gurus on the A team tours he was never asked to attend would probably call a Growth Mindset.
And after his heroics with the bat Burns did his best with the chat, speaking to an assembled press gallery containing Ali Martin.
We’re in a fight and it’s very obvious what we need to do. A couple of good partnerships and then we are up close to them, and we’re asking them to make a play. We have got to look at from a positive aspect. The way Headingley went, anything is possible.
“Good morning,” howdy John Starbuck. “How does this Fourth Day compare with other Fourth Days in the Ashes (apart from Headingley)?” Presuming this is a literal question and I’m not missing some subtext, Steve Smith was batting at the start of the fourth day in the opening two Tests. Although, there’s a good chance if you picked any slice of time during this series the answer would be the same.
Slap on the factor 50, knot your hankie, and make sure that portable hand-held plastic fan thingy has a brand new battery in it, today is going to be a belter. Well, comparatively. In the way that The Wiggles occupying the front bench of the House of Commons would be an upgrade on the current state of parliament.
For the first time this Test the Met Office reckons there is practically no chance of rain falling on Old Trafford, and we may even see prolonged spells of sunshine. The scheduled 98 overs will be bowled with a gentle northerly, as opposed to the biting westerley that has turned a few fielders into Michelin men. The top, wait for it, could get as high as 17 (seventeen) degrees! Unfurl the bunting and pre-pour the pints, for today is a day to celebrate.
Day three was nip and tuck Test cricket of the old fashioned variety and Vic Marks has written all about it right here.
Three late-evening wickets from Josh Hazlewood have left England with a mighty struggle to save this game and keep the pursuit of the Ashes alive. In a six-over spell just before the intervention of bad light Hazlewood dispatched two of England’s most adhesive batsmen, Rory Burns and Joe Root, who had assembled a dutiful partnership of 141. Then he clean bowled Jason Roy, who attracts many adjectives which do not, however, include “adhesive”, whether batting or fielding.
Hello everybody and welcome to live OBO coverage of the fourth day of the fourth Test of the Ashes from Old Trafford.
And what a day we have in store. After three rain-interrupted days the match is delicately poised. Australia are the only combatant with a chance of winning but to do so they must engineer 15 English wickets on a surface containing few demons; not to mention find enough time to plunder enough second-innings runs of their own to bolt the backdoor behind them.
It’s a well-worn cliche this series but the opening hour, and opening session, will be crucial. Should England survive the remaining six overs with the old ball and progress through the early stages of the second new Dukes without much alarm, Australia’s task will grow in difficulty by the minute. A rapid collapse and England will be staring at an almighty rearguard action this evening and throughout tomorrow.
Once again England turn to Ben Stokes for protection. He has the complexion of a Wildling and the glacial melt eyes of a White Walker but with Stokes on night’s watch his teammates could sleep soundly knowing the best-equipped batsman in the team will be at the crease for potentially the most significant passage of play in the Test. Around him Jonny Bairstow, and in particular Jos Buttler – when he strides out as a specialist No.8 – must prove their worth. The latter is a luxury England can ill-afford in recent form, unless he switches codes and transforms into Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard; but not both, never both, we don’t want to open that can of worms again.
Australia’s day will be determined in two phases. In the morning session with the new ball the relentlessly impressive Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will hope to recapture the venom that threatened to rip the match decisively their way late yesterday. After lunch all eyes turn to Nathan Lyon to exploit a surface that is increasingly receptive to spin.
It all amounts to what should be an engrossing day of Test match cricket.