England find themselves relying on their bowlers once again after another poor batting display left them crumbling against the hostile pace and accurate spin of Australia’s frontline.
A first innings score of 258 will be seen as well below par but Ashes legend Stuart Broad kept English hopes alive in this must-win game, dismissing villain of the piece David Warner before the close of play with Australia 228 runs adrift.
Burns and Denly battle back after horror start
Australia won the toss after a washout at Lord’s on day one and elected to bowl under a blanket cloud. It appeared to be a strong decision within minutes of the opening delivery as Jason Roy was tempted by visiting replacement Josh Hazlewood’s third ball and edged behind. Question marks remain over whether the England opener can adapt his aggression to Test cricket.
Two Joe Root drives in the sixth over finally seemed to settle the nerves but Hazlewood took his figures to 2-2 from 25 balls as he trapped the England captain LBW. Turmoil for the home side.
Rory Burns was then put down on 16 by Usman Khawaja at wide slip with what should have been a comfortable catch off the bowling of Peter Siddle and would have flattened England to 40-3. Shortly after, Nathan Lyon had a review for LBW on under pressure Joe Denly turned down, the number four selected ahead of all-rounder Sam Curran for this Test.
Yet that energy of Australia chasing wickets soon disintegrated as a calm Burns and Denly nursed England to lunch with a vital 50 partnership.
Wickets tumble on a regular basis
As England looked set to build a platform, Hazlewood returned after the break to strike again, clipping the edge of Denly for 30 with England still eight runs short of three figures. Burns then survived another clip behind as Tim Paine put him down on 47, albeit a much tougher chance than Khawaja shelled earlier in the day. Moments later, England’s new Test star racked up another milestone.
But, just as England needed Burns to go on and score big, he fended a short Pat Cummins delivery to short leg and Cameron Bancroft took an outstanding diving catch to his left to reduce the hosts to 116-4. Incredible reflexes, justifying the increasing popular short delivery approach as Burns ran out of luck.
England turned to their World Cup Super Over heroes to try and put together a partnership but Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler could only add 20 for the fifth wicket as Siddle, who was the bowler for both of Burns’ dropped catches, finally got his reward with another edge behind, dismissing Buttler for just 12. Stokes went shortly after as he missed a sweep and became the first of three Lyon victims.
However, as was the case before lunch, another partnership threatened to solidify England before tea as Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow edged their side past 150 and onto the vital figure of 200. In the meantime, Steve Smith used up Australia’s last review as he failed to capture Bairstow LBW after arriving to a chorus of jeers.
England struggle to 250 but Warner dismissed early again
The duo made a stand of 72 before Woakes was eventually dismissed by another short Cummins delivery, the pace bowler delivering over 80% of his balls after tea with a bounce from halfway which also did for Jofra Archer on his Test debut.
Bairstow held firm to make 52, under pressure in recent weeks for a poor run of form with the bat in red ball cricket, but, like Burns earlier in the day, failed to capitalise on a foundation. England eventually crawled their way past 250, dismissed for 258.
However, with the sun dropping and the stadium noise increasing, a fired up Broad added to David Warner’s Ashes woes as the Australian opener was bowled for just three. But Bancroft and Khawaja held their nerve to close on 30-1 at the end of the second day.