Eng­land fac­ing up to sur­vival mis­sion af­ter dev­as­tat­ing Ha­zle­wood spell

Bowler dis­misses Burns, Root and Roy in 27 balls Hosts had shown met­tle in face of hos­tile at­tack

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Fourth Specsavers Ashes Test - Scyld Berry CRICKET JOUR­NAL­IST OF THE YEAR at Old Traf­ford

Fif­teen wick­ets have fallen on the first three days of the fourth Test. If 15 more Eng­land wick­ets fall, Aus­tralia will re­tain the Ashes.

Eng­land are go­ing to need a lot of rain to sur­vive and take this his­toric fight to the Oval on Thurs­day. Af­ter only six more overs Aus­tralia will be rearmed with a se­cond new ball, as if Josh Ha­zle­wood needs any fur­ther en­cour­age­ment. None of Eng­land’s bowlers, not even Stu­art Broad, could sum­mon up the same ac­cu­racy and hos­til­ity on the first two days while Aus­tralia helped them­selves to 497 runs.

If Eng­land col­lapse against the se­cond new ball, and fail to score 98 more runs in their first in­nings, they could be made to fol­low on; but such an even­tu­al­ity is un­likely, as Aus­tralians take care of their fast bowlers to make sure they re­main fear­some gi­ants.

Much more likely is that Aus­tralia, whether they are able to en­force the fol­low-on or not, will have a hit for per­haps 50 overs, then send Eng­land back in for an hour or two on the fourth evening and see what the hosts are made of.

Aus­tralia’s bowlers were more threat­en­ing than Eng­land’s – and more pa­tient, too – keep­ing to their plan un­til Eng­land cracked, with Ha­zle­wood tak­ing three wick­ets for 15 runs in 27 balls be­fore bad light drew a veil.

Pat Cum­mins and Mitchell Starc soft­ened up Joe Root, the lat­ter break­ing his box in two and the for­mer then bring­ing him to his knees, be­fore Ha­zle­wood fol­lowed up, firstly by trap­ping Eng­land’s cap­tain, then trash­ing their ex­per­i­ment with Ja­son Roy as a mid­dle­order Test bats­man.

Rain had washed out the third morn­ing, leav­ing two long ses­sions. In the af­ter­noon, Eng­land in­creased their overnight to­tal of 23 for one to 125 for two off 37 overs; in the evening they lurched to 200 for five be­fore the bad light.

Had 78 overs been de­liv­ered as sched­uled, not 64, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow would have been sub­jected al­ready to the rear­ma­ment of Cum­mins and Ha­zle­wood with the se­cond new ball; and while Starc has yet to click back into Test cricket, a magic spell can never be dis­counted.

So the day be­gan badly and fin­ished badly for Eng­land, with the third-wicket part­ner­ship of 141 be­tween Root and Rory Burns in be­tween – like the sun­shine be­tween the clouds that scud­ded past on an­other cold and windy day.

The ideal night­watch­man hangs around to drain some en­ergy from the op­pos­ing bowlers, but Craig Over­ton was caught at se­cond slip in the se­cond over. Too sel­dom had he and Eng­land’s other seam­ers bowled the same fullish length and tight line as Ha­zle­wood was to do all day.

Dur­ing his se­cond high­est Test score of 81, Burns gave ev­ery ap­pear­ance of com­po­sure, save when Cum­mins bounced him.

Oth­er­wise he was al­most as un­flap­pable as Alas­tair Cook; and in one way he bet­tered his pre­de­ces­sor, when deal­ing with Nathan Lyon. Burns, be­ing shorter and more flex­i­ble, bent his knees in square-cut­ting Lyon or forcing him square, whereas Cook would come down on the off-break more stiffly.

In only his 11th Test, Burns’s out­ward com­po­sure made him seem more se­nior. He went through his prepara­tory rou­tine – noth­ing so fussy as Steve Smith’s, more like Cook’s stroll to­wards square leg – un­hur­riedly, forcing the bowler to wait.

He had a damp­en­ing ef­fect, not only on Aus­tralia’s bowlers: a cou­ple of his early cover drives gave the still-new ball ev­ery chance of sop­ping up resid­ual mois­ture in its pas­sage to the bound­ary.

Re­verse swing, Old Traf­ford’s fea­ture, did not take ef­fect un­til late on day three and, to Eng­land’s cha­grin, is ex­pected to in­crease on the last two days which are fore­cast to be dry, so re­duc­ing their chances of a draw.

Al­though Burns got stuck on 59, he was still un­flus­tered, ex­cept when Cum­mins with his ex­tra pace hit his gloves or zipped past his out­side edge.

He was not stuck too long, be­cause he has his ways of ac­cu­mu­lat­ing against spin, un­like Eng­land’s open­ers of yes­ter­year. Burns did not sweep much, how­ever, as he had in Sri Lanka, as the bounce and there­fore the risk of a top edge de­terred him; and it will be a no-no in Eng­land’s se­cond in­nings, when sur­vival is all.

In the de­cep­tive sun­shine of af­ter­noon, Lyon was the vic­tim of some pan­tomime when he caught a throw-in from an Aus­tralian in­fielder, David Warner, which re­minded the crowd of the throw-in by Cum­mins at Head­in­g­ley which Lyon failed to col­lect.

Ev­ery Lyon catch there­after, no mat­ter that the ball was dead, was roared to the echo – and the sim­pler the catch the bet­ter.

But the crowd’s levity was turned to gloom in the evening as Cum­mins struck sparks from the placid turf. Sir Neville Car­dus would have been re­minded of an­other dark­haired Aus­tralian fast bowler, Ted Mc­don­ald, to this day ar­guably the most valu­able over­seas sign­ing any county has ever made as he pro­pelled Lan­cashire to four cham­pi­onship ti­tles in the five sea­sons from 1926, as his pace alone over­came Old Traf­ford’s placid­ity.

It was Ha­zle­wood though, not Cum­mins, who was re­warded for Cum­mins’s ef­forts. Root would have been keener to get for­ward to the for­mer had he not been pounded ear­lier by the lat­ter.

Root’s head slumped – it was not worth wast­ing a re­view – as he re­alised he was not go­ing to make a cen­tury, let alone a mam­moth one such as Steve Smith’s.

Roy was de­feated by much the same Ha­zle­wood ball, an­gling in, but the best Test bats­men get some­thing in the way at least, and are sel­dom clean bowled.

Roy, af­ter play­ing some pleas­ant drives, threw his hands for­wards into an at­tack­ing stroke, and was gone. At least, as the sil­ver lin­ing, Roy is guar­an­teed a se­cond in­nings.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.