Jofra Archer, Jack Leach and Ben Stokes shared the starring roles as England’s captivating fifth-day victory charge came up four wickets short in a drawn second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Stokes hit 115 not out, his first century in two years, to set up the declaration, with the ferocious pace of debutant Archer and the nagging left-arm spin of Leach piling the pressure on Australia in a suitably tense finale.
The tourists, without key man Steve Smith due a concussion caused by a vicious Archer bouncer the previous afternoon, finished on 154 for six under failing light just before 7.30pm.
Tweet of the day
Smith sits out
Australia coach Justin Langer said on Saturday evening that he expected Smith to complete the game. But the former Australia captain, who was clattered just below his left ear by Archer on day four, was ruled out after waking with a headache and feeling groggy, while demonstrating “some deterioration” during a morning concussion test. He is now a major doubt for the third Test, which begins on Thursday, with Cricket Australia admitting the short turnaround is “not in his favour”. However, the 30-year-old has expressed his determination to play at Headingley.
Concern for concussion sub
Smith’s enforced absence resulted in a small piece of Test history. Australia became the first team to apply to the International Cricket Council for a concussion substitute under new protocols announced last month. All-rounder Marnus Labuschagne, who also fielded on Saturday afternoon while Smith was taken to hospital for an x-ray on his injured left forearm, was the man to come in. He was given similar treatment by Archer and was smashed in the grille by a 91.6mph short ball. Fortunately, the protection meant he was able to continue and he recovered to make an impressive 59.
Archer deadly once again
After declaring with a lead of 266, the hosts had an uphill task to bowl out their opponents to level the series. Debutant Archer at least gave England hope with further compelling spells of bowling. The 24-year-old wasted little time in sending David Warner back to the pavilion and followed that up with the dismissal of Usman Khawaja. Archer, again bowling consistently above 90mph, also rattled Labuschagne, before finishing the innings with figures of three for 32 and receiving widespread praise for his performance from a series or former players, including Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen.
Stokes gave his side a timely boost with his seventh Test hundred and second at Lord’s. After losing four second-innings wickets on Saturday afternoon, including Jason Roy for three and captain Joe Root for a golden duck in successive balls, England looked in danger of slipping to a potentially insurmountable 2-0 series deficit. But all-rounder Stokes was impressive and aggressive in guiding his team to 258 for five before they declared, with the second 50 of his unbeaten ton coming off just 54 balls.
Quote of the day
Shots of the day
There had only been two sixes in the entire Test before Stokes impressively slogged successive maximums off spinner Nathan Lyon in the 64th over. He picked up a delivery from full outside off to deposit the ball deep over midwicket and take England’s lead past 200. His next shot was even more forceful and flew well into the stands to the delight of the home crowd.
Catch of the day
England were just four wickets from victory thanks to a sensational catch from Joe Denly to dismiss Tim Paine. A short ball from Archer was pulled hard by Australia captain Paine, prompting Denly to spring to his left and impressively take the ball one-handed at midwicket.
Unexpected rain showers delayed the start of the final day until 12.10pm. Even without the belated start, the loss of five sessions earlier in the Test had severely reduced the chances of a result. Early forecasts for the opening day of next week’s third Test appear promising. According to the Met Office, Headingley will have sunny intervals and spells of cloud on Thursday, with, more significantly, little chance of rain.
August 22: England v Australia, day one of the third Ashes Test, Headingley.