9.21am EDT 09:21 34th over: England 108-2 (Root 37, Stokes 3) Siddle continues his work from the Vauxhall End, dotting Root up in the channel before bringing one back to find the inside egde but not quite the timber. Stokes plays him out watchfully, his job here to bat for a long time. 9.19am EDT
34th over: England 108-2 (Root 37, Stokes 3) Siddle continues his work from the Vauxhall End, dotting Root up in the channel before bringing one back to find the inside egde but not quite the timber. Stokes plays him out watchfully, his job here to bat for a long time.
33rd over: England 107-2 (Root 36, Stokes 3) Hazlewood is letting Stokes make the running here early on, hanging it out there on a fifth/sixth stump line for the bulk of this over. He leaves it be.
“Australia shouldn’t be too disheartened,” observes Paul Edwards. “Two more wickets and they are into England’s tail.”
And this from Richard McConnell on Root’s leadership. “The question of captaincy could be the most telling decision of the coming 6 months. A positive change could put England on a different path, but I worry about the propensity to opt for the conservative choice. I guess my main question is why does the star player have to be the captain? Lara wasn’t a great captain, but was a brilliant and consistent Test batsman. Give it to Broad for two year and tell him he will only play Test cricket from now on. Emulate what worked for the ODI team.”
Oh, if fast bowlers were eligible, by all means. But we all know if somebody bowls quick then they are not allowed. THE RULES.
32nd over: England 105-2 (Root 36, Stokes 1) Nice again from Siddle, jagging back at Root to begin, prompting an appeal. Doing too much. “He looks a different bowler since lunch,” acknowledges Warne on the telly. He then beats Stokes with a jaffa from around the wicket. Much fuller and much better. Stokes clips a yorker for one to finish.
“Afternoon Adam.” Brian Withington, always a pleasure. “Before his inevitable century later today, I just wanted to place on the record that in my book Joe Root is still a bloody fine batsman in all formats. His captaincy is nowhere near as poor as is made out by the detractors. And as you point out, there are no obvious alternatives anyway. Talk of Morgan doing the job in Tests is somewhere between risible and laughable.”
31st over: England 103-2 (Root 35, Stokes 0) The vice-captain joins the skipper, leaving the one ball he has to look at here from Hazlewood. A wicket maiden for him at an important time.
WICKET! Burns c Marsh b Hazlewood 47 (England 103-2)
Oh dear, what’s he gone and done that for? Hazlewood has worked Burns over with the short one, a leading edge landing with Marsh at midwicket. He did so well to avoid anything like that before lunch.
30th over: England 103-1 (Burns 47, Root 35) There’s the England 100, raised with a Burns’ second boundary off Siddle in the over. After getting right back into the scrap after lunch, that’s a poor set from the veteran, giving the left-hander a chance to twice punish him through cover – one of those coming off a no-ball, too.
Robert McLiam Wilson has some thoughts on play being stopped for movement behind the bowlers’ arm. I’ll publish them in full. “All very well Vish distracting Burns but it’s LOLs ‘cos they’re mates and alWay back, I once got a flea in my ear for getting on Allan Border’s wick at the beginning of an over. Apart from the lasting shame, my chief memories are of his remarkable vocal projection (what a very real loss he was to Shakespearian theatre) and that I had never heard the three-syllable version of ‘**** ing’ before that. I’d grown up in the midst of a civil war but nothing quite gave me the nightsweats like Al’s terse summation of my general utility. Do I hear right that you are having a baby? A million congratulations. Now get you hair cut.”
Border v Paris Bob. Yes please. And yes, good news travels fast – very grown-up. My hair is a fraction less Moz-like now though; got barbered me (too) short between Tests. Vish and I will visit soon.
29th over: England 97-1 (Burns 42, Root 35) In that over, Root has gone past Bradman’s 6996 and on to 7000 career runs with a classy square drive for four off Hazlewood to finish their best over since the break. He’s the third youngest to that mark. Smith is 130 away from 7000 as well, so he’ll probably join him there at about 5pm Friday.
28th over: England 91-1 (Burns 42, Root 31) Another solid over from Siddle to Burns, working his way into a much better spell.
“Speaking of Andy Zaltzman,” says Joe Cross, “he had some telling stats about Root’s form as captain, in particular hinging on THAT Headingley test against the Windies in 2017. Something like in 43 matches prior he averaged 78 in the first innings – one of the best in the world – and in 27 matches since averages 26 in the first innings.”
Joe Grant has a Root take too: “Becoming abundantly clear the Aussie’s are dropping Root in the hope he posts a decent score and hangs onto the captaincy. Short term damage, long term gains.”
Unless they turn to Stokes (seems unlikely, doesn’t it?) then it probably will be Root when they next play Australia. Who else?
27th over: England 89-1 (Burns 42, Root 31) Hazlewood finds the inside edge too with his first ball after lunch, Root then getting on top of his forward defensive. But another loose shot later in the over, lashing and missing at a ball well outside his off-stump. Hmm.
“When Root’s inevitable hundred is followed by the inevitable email response,” emails Damian Ainsworth, “can it also be pointed out that it’s his luckiest ever century?” It’ll all be coming, I’m sure. Speaking of luck, Sky says that Siddle has now had five catches put down off his bowling in the series. His lot in life, much like Broad.
26th over: England 89-1 (Burns 42, Root 31) Better from Siddle, so close to nipping under Root’s bat with the second delivery of the session. A big inside edge saves him. A nice length to follow, too, Root leaving close to the off-stump, then defending from that line. Much, much, much better. THEN SMITH DROPS ROOT! He does well to reach it on the dive across from second slip with no third catcher in position. But he did get both hands to it. Three chances for Root.
A prediction from Boris Starling as the players return to the field. “Smith to score 328 as Australia power to an absurdly large score. This would let him overtake Bradman’s 974 but leave him on 999 for the series, which would be doubly appropriate as (a) it would be his own yes-I-am-mortal equivalent of the Don’s 99.94 (b) it’s the telephone number England have needed to call for most of the summer when he’s been batting.” And a duck in the second dig? Being The Oval and all, that’ll work perfectly.
Righto, Siddle to Root. PLAY!
“Loving the coverage as usual.” Thank you, Ben Garbutt. “Your comment about Vish Ethantharajah being good mates with Rory Burns (over 22) got me thinking. Any potential conflict of interest declarations to make yourself, or on behalf of other OBOers? Not that I’m casting aspertions, just looking for transparency! Alright, alright, maybe I’m a little bit jealous too.”
That’s a rich vein! Well, Nathan Lyon was my club captain ten years ago; I’m never shy about that. Nor the fact that in a rep game when we were 15, Sidds took 3/0 in the final over when we needed two to win. That hurt. He doesn’t remember it but I do. To be honest, it’s part of the job to maintain friendships around the place. Nothing wrong with that considering how much time we all spend together.
“Love your work on the OBO and the pod.” Thank you Quentin Seik. “Thought you should know that Channel 9 at flogging their usual offical memorabilia for the Ashes series… this ones entitled ‘Mission Accomplished’. The ad they’re running clearly shows the result of this test as being an Australian victory printed on the bottom of the picture! As that’s all settled you may as well take the afternoon off.”
Brilliant. Screenshot that, please. Whatever would Tony Greig think?
A poor session from Australia. Electing to bowl first on a nice day, wickets need to come early for the fielding team or it can get ugly and fast. To be fair, they should have Root, a couple of times, but he was put down at long leg by Siddle and then by Paine in Cummins’ next over. Justin Langer will be giving them a serve at lunch, make no mistake. Speaking of, I’m going to grab a plate of food myself. Back with some of your excellent emails in about 15 minutes. For now, if you like Andy Zaltzman’s stylings on TMS, Geoff Lemon and I had him on our pod overnight. Very sharp.
LUNCH: England 86-1
25th over: England 86-1 (Burns 42, Root 28) Short from Cummins to Burns but I don’t think he’s so much as considered a horizontal bat shot from the bouncer since the first dig at Leeds. He shuts up shop entirely from the last few balls, knowing that he’s made it to lunch. And made it nicely, as well. The local lad has earned this sandwich.
24th over: England 86-1 (Burns 42, Root 28) Nathan Lyon is coming on for what will probably be a one over spell before lunch. Sure enough, in keeping with the theme of the last 20 minutes, another misfield – from the man least likely, Cummins, allowing Root to get a couple from a push behind point. He pats the rest on the head. Lunch awaits for the skipper. Surely, surely he goes large today.
23rd over: England 84-1 (Burns 42, Root 26) Root dropped again! Was Paine overcompensating for not diving in front of Warner last week? This time, the edge was going straight to first slip but the ‘keeper went at it with a diving right glove and couldn’t pull it down. Dropped twice off Cummins in two overs. The camera pans to Justin Langer, who is chewing his gum with real aggression. Burns makes it hurt that little bit more, driving nicely through cover for four more. Nearing lunch, what a poor morning this has been for the visitors.
22nd over: England 79-1 (Burns 38, Root 25) Vish stops play! Rory Burns was facing up to start the new over from Siddle but pulled out because Vish Ehantharajah, formerly of this parish (and the OBO family), didn’t get back to his seat in time and was moving behind the arm. It’s happened to all of us in the press box (myself included, to the annoyance of Nathan Lyon); very much an occupational hazard. Better still, Vish is good mates with Burns – that will make for some fun Whatsapps later. Right, back on, the left-hander clips Siddle to fine leg to begin, Root then adding a leg bye from another misdirected ball. He just can’t find his line today. Burns keeps the pressure on, two more to cover before leaving the rest alone.
21st over: England 75-1 (Burns 35, Root 25) DROPPED CATCH! Siddle is having one of those mornings, putting Root down at fine leg. “What a let off!” says Atherton on TV and indeed it is. Cummins won the top edge from a hooked bumper, the straightforward chance sailing straight to Siddle. But he snatched at it with his hands pointed to the ground and it didn’t stick. Just when Root has been looking the part, to make matters so much worse. He knows it too. Burns finishes the over with a nicely-clipped three past square leg.
20th over: England 71-1 (Burns 32, Root 24) Siddle gets enough chance and is closer to where he needs to be, beating Root on the inside edge then winning a false stroke from Burns. He beats the left-hander with his last ball, missing a full-blooded cover drive.
19th over: England 68-1 (Burns 30, Root 24) Oooh, Cummins is through Root, cutting him in half with a ball that just clears the middle stump. Fine bowling. To reinforce how talented he is, he backs it up with the outswinger, perfectly positioned and beating the outside of the bat. Fair play to Root, he is on the front foot by the end of the over, stroking through along the carpet – again to point. Burns has one ball to see off and parries a couple behind square. Needless to say, Australian Cricket Twitter is collectively very cross at Tim Paine for bowling first here. Then again, Lord’s started like this too.
Want your fill from the shires? Tanya Aldred has your back.
18th over: England 63-1 (Burns 28, Root 21) Siddle won’t be feeling the pinch quite yet – he has been around long enough to know that one bad session does not have to define a Test – but he’s not at his best. He gets past Root’s inside edge to begin but overcorrects well outside off, the captain helping himself to three out past point without much risk at all. Burns is untroubled in defence thereafter.
“Tim Paine would never have been forgiven if Bradman’s 1930 total had been overtaken,” theorises Tom Carver. “He had no choice but to field first.” A bit like Tubby Taylor declaring on 334? Let’s hope not.
17th over: England 60-1 (Burns 28, Root 18) It’s Cummins on for Hazlewood; his second spell today from the pavilion end. He has 25 wickets in this series, adding one to that so far this morning, Broad next on that list with 19. But Root is a different proposition when set at the crease than he was last Saturday night, pushing nicely off the back foot early in the over to get off strike. Cummins is into the short stuff at Burns, who wants nothing to do with it and rightly so.
“Looking forward to Joe Root scoring a century here to be closely followed by the inevitable emails declaring he can only do it when it doesn’t matter,” writes Damian Ainsworth. Nothing more certain.
16th over: England 59-1 (Burns 28, Root 17) Shot. For the second time this morning, Burns is able to learn onto the front foot and on-drive for four. A most attractive stroke. There was a school of thought when Burns reached three figures at Edgbaston that he would never do so again; that it was the luckiest Test innings ever played and he would be dumped very soon. Five weeks on, he’s the man most likely – apart from the leadership duo – to be there this winter.
“Has anyone asked the ECB why county championship games in September start at 10:30 but tests start at 11:00?” emails Chris Parker. I am fairly sure it has to do with the host broadcaster. As it is often observed, Tests in 2005 started at 10:30am as it meant the then-TV hosts were able to get to The Simpsons at 6pm. Related: this is the latest in the year a Test has started in England.
15th over: England 53-1 (Burns 23, Root 16) Hazlewood’s sixth over of the morning, again trying to get Root playing throughout from the line of the stumps. It’s a good contest, the No3 collecting two to square leg when there’s enough room for him to do so. Perhaps Siddle to follow from that end? They need to manage Hazlewood.
14th over: England 51-1 (Burns 23, Root 14) Mitch Marsh, always a popular inclusion, replaces Siddle after the drinks break. He bowled nicely here four years ago. If I recall correctly, I think he picked up Root both times? Anyway, he’s in the team, for the most part, to help out Cummins and Hazlewood with some usefully timed spells – much like this one. Of course, it is heresy to say any positive about Mitch’s prospects, so that’s where I’ll leave it. He’s in at Burns’ stumps to begin, the opener turning a single to square leg – England’s 50th run of the morning. Not a bad start. Root pushes one to point straight away – good, positive batting. He’s in good shape here.
On Smith’s catch, a note from an emailer by the name of Yum. Just Yum. “You could see right after he took the catch by the expression on his face, that in his mind’s eye he was reliving the horror of dropping it as if that is what really happened. That’s why he keeps getting better.”
For me, the main disappointment about Australia putting England in is that the chances of Smith having enough time in the Test to make 304 runs – and overtake Bradman in 1930 – are diminished quite a bit.
13th over: England 49-1 (Burns 22, Root 13) Hazlewood with the final over of the first hour and it is a good one to Root, forced to use his bat throughout. The big quick nearly gets through that defence with the final delivery, offering a few words as they break for drinks.
I enjoyed the bit before between Nasser and Ponting when he put to him whether batting first might have been a better idea this morning. “We both have history with this.” #Ashes #Bantz
“England’s longest tail?” writes Matthew Doherty. “How about Tuffnell, Mullally and Malcolm?” Good point. And Ian Truman, also on the England changes. “I agree with you on Curran. Whilst its far from England’s greatest selection crime this series, I can’t fathom what allowed Overton to leapfrog Curran in the pecking order last test. Overton “looks” more a test bowler, but all evidence (test wickets) suggests the opposite. The kid can play Test cricket, something I’d say a lot of others have yet to prove.”
12th over: England 49-1 (Burns 22, Root 13) Siddle isn’t going well here but he isn’t helped by Marcus Harris, who lets a ball through his legs at gully to concede a boundary to finish from a lovely delivery in the channel that finds the edge. Earlier in the over, Root had enough time to again get on the balls of his feet to punch square of the wicket – his most productive shot when on song. Siddle also beat him, when the England skipper had a dash one he should have left. This reminds me of how Siddle went in his first spell at Lord’s. Of course, be bounced back brilliantly later that day. We’ll see.
11th over: England 42-1 (Burns 18, Root 10) Hazlewood is swung around to have a dart from Cummins’ pavilion end. Burns is looking pretty well set though, leaving nicely until he gets a ball on his pads, which is tucks around for three. Root grabs one behind square to finish, keeping the strike for Siddle’s next over.
10th over: England 38-1 (Burns 15, Root 9) Siddle to Root, who watches a couple before having a pop at a ball outside the off-stump, crashing it away to the point rope in front of the Peter May Stand. Too short. “Positive intent,” says Nasser. Siddle bounces back with his best ball so far, beating the England skipper with one that skips nicely off the seam and past the outside edge. Root goes again to finish, this time a fraction behind point, for four more. That is the shot he played so well a few years back when he was right alongside Smith, Kohli and Williamson as the best Test batsman in the world.
Back to the pre-game discussion, here is John Starbuck. “Kim Thonger’s information takes me back to the 90s, when I was very much involved with helping to fix the Millennium Bug. Thanks to clear planning, hard work and judicious advertising we got it done, only for people to protest there was never anything wrong in the first place and the bonus I got was a cheat. Such an attitude also reflects selectors’ behaviour, wanting the problem to go away without having to engage properly. You can never win in those situations.”
We have only TWO international players left who were bashing around for their before the Millenium Bug (from memory): Chris Gayle and Shoaib Malik. Assuming the latter is still playing T20Is.
9th over: England 30-1 (Burns 15, Root 1) Root is off the mark second ball, tucking Cummins to midwicket. Burns then pushes a couple to mid-off to end the successful over. A lot of work ahead for these two.
WICKET! Denly c Smith b Cummins 14 (England 27-1)
Cummins gets the breakthrough, juggled by Smith at second slip at the second attempt. A tad fuller, Denly can’t help himself. Poor shot.
8th over: England 27-0 (Burns 13, Denly 14) Siddle into the attack from the Vauxhall End, his fourth Test Match at The Oval. Quite the achievement for an Australian. He has Denly ripping his bottom hand off the bat to begin with a ball that bites but the opener makes the most of a ropey ball to finish, slapping three down the ground.
7th over: England 24-0 (Burns 13, Denly 11) Cummins beats Burns for the fourth time so far, with another he had to play at early in the set. But he sticks to the task, taking a ball of his hip away to the rope behind square. I get the feeling he might be out there for a while.
“Morning.” Hi , Jonathan Taylor. “Is this Englands longest ever Tail? While Curran & Woakes are both excellent no. 9 batsmen, at 8 Woakes can only be deemed as alright & coming in at 7 Curran is not exactly inspiring – even less so below the current top 6, Archer is again 1 place too high at 9. Likewise the out of form Buttler at 6 similarly the double-barrelled Bairstow-Bowled coming in at 5 whose current technique of leaving the gate open seems to have us on an endless loop: pitch it up and through it goes.”
Yep, that isn’t ideal but I still can’t work out how it has taken until now to find a way for Sam Curran to get a run in this series.
6th over: England 20-0 (Burns 9, Denly 11) That’ll do, shot of the morning so far from Burns, driving Hazlewood down the ground for four. Sure enough, the big quick is straight back on it finding his inside edge – top bowling. Denly’s turn, edging through the cordon for four more. That’s not far away at all from the four catchers.
“Is it possible the captaincy affected Steve Smith’s batting, but because the numbers were so good, nobody noticed?” poses Nick Donovan. “I expect his average to be North of 70 – a conservative prediction – by the time the Ashes in 2021 roll around.”
Well, Smith averages 75 since his breakthrough ton here in 2013, which is 99 innings ago. If he does go at 75 through to 2021 – 60-odd hits? – that should have him comfortably into the 70s. Extraordinary.
5th over: England 11-0 (Burns 4, Denly 7) Another big lbw shout, this time Cummins v Denly. It’s turned down by Umpire Dharmasena. It looks like an inside edge, so they don’t review. The bowler remains right on top, winning a bottom edge that runs away for four – his first boundary. Ooh, then he nearly loses his wicket from a ball that beats him on the inside of the bat but somehow doesn’t clip the off-stump on the way through. Classy bowling but he survives.
“I see that Marsh has a ‘Mitchell’ printed on the back of his shirt along with his surname,” notes Abhijato Sensarma. “First time an individual’s full name has been printed on a Test jersey?” Yep, a nice obscure one to get us going. I used to get a real kick out of the small ‘Mark’ and ‘Steve’ on the Waugh brothers’ ODI kits as a kid.
4th over: England 7-0 (Burns 4, Denly 3) Watching the replay back a few times, I can see why Erasmus gave it out, hitting on the back leg deep in the crease, albeit with the thigh pad. Burns keeps his cool after the close call, leaving the last couple. What an nice story he is this week, by the way. The Surrey captain has played all over the world since making his debut the Test after this one in 2019 and now, at last, he gets to turn out on his home ground. One of the few batsmen with their reputation enhanced through this series.