1.28pm EDT 13:28 3rd over: England 4-0 (Burns 0, Denly 0) Burns does well to defend a full inswinger from Cummins, whose last ball of the day is another nasty bouncer. Burns ducks under it and then smiles, knowing he shouldn’t have to face any more deliveries today. 1.22pm EDT 13:22 2nd over: England 4-0
3rd over: England 4-0 (Burns 0, Denly 0) Burns does well to defend a full inswinger from Cummins, whose last ball of the day is another nasty bouncer. Burns ducks under it and then smiles, knowing he shouldn’t have to face any more deliveries today.
2nd over: England 4-0 (Burns 0, Denly 0) Joe Denly, who drove back to the ground from Whitstable this afternoon following the birth of his second child, faces up to Hazlewood. The third ball zips past the edge, but the rest of the over is defended solidly. Two more overs for England to survive.
1st over: England 4-0 (Burns 0, Denly 0) Cummins ends a blistering first over by ripping one past Burns’ outside edge. Burns has surely earned the respect of the Aussie pace attack this series; whatever the era, that must feel so good for an opening batsman.
0.3 overs: England 4-0 (Burns 0, Denly 0) Pat Cummins, who looks justifiably radged off at having to bowl tonight, starts the innings with a ferocious assault on Rory Burns. His second ball hits the shoulder and flies for four leg-byes; the next delivery hits the glove and deflects onto the grille, which means a break in play while Burns is assessed. He seems okay.
Jofra Archer’s debut Test series: 4 Tests, 22 wickets at an average of 17.27. I’m pretty sure that no England bowler since the war has taken as many wickets against Australia in what was also their first Test series, although Frank Tyson had only played one Test before he obliterated Australia in 1954-55.
England lead by 69, which is a decent bit of Steve Smith insurance for the fourth innings. They have around 20 minutes to bat tonight.
Siddle steered Archer low to the right of gully, where Burns plunged to take a stunning one-handed catch. It was very similar to that legendary Stokes catch at Trent Bridge in 2015, although the ball wasn’t quite as far behind Burns. It was still a truly great catch – and it gives Jofra Archer the second six-for of his short Test career: 23.5-9-62-6. He is the gift that will keep on giving for the next decade. I have no idea what we’ve done to deserve him.
WICKET! Australia 225 all out (Siddle c Burns b Archer 18)
What a catch from Rory Burns! This is right up there with Ben Stokes’ brab to dismiss Adam Voges four years ago.
WICKET! Australia 224-9 (Lyon b Archer 25)
Five wickets for Jofra Archer! Lyon is cleaned up by a brilliant slower yorker that thuds into the base of off stump. That’s Archer’s second five-for in four Tests. He is a glorious cricketer.
68th over: Australia 224-8 (Siddle 18, Lyon 25) Jack Leach comes into the attack, an interesting gamble given Lyon’s aggressive approach. His first over is pretty quiet – three singles, all swept.
“Woakes should be given credit for the disguise he put on that ball to Smith,” says Ian Copestake. “He offered an innocuous-looking delivery that was in fact so innocuous it was nocuous.”
67th over: Australia 221-8 (Siddle 17, Lyon 23) Lyon makes room to blast Archer over cover for four more – and then he’s dropped by Leach at fine leg! Oh dear, that was a pretty straightforward chance after Lyon top-edged a hook. In fact, Leach took a nice low catch but lost control of the ball when his arms hit the ground.
66th over: Australia 215-8 (Siddle 16, Lyon 18) England lead by 89, which is plenty on a wearing pitch. But if Australia can reduce that to 40 or 50, a few England players might start to recall the unwelcome precedent of Melbourne 2013. Lyon adds four more, wafting Woakes breezily over mid-off, and then pings a short-arm pull for six! Haha, that was a sensational shot.
“This is so, SO excellent, Rob,” says Guy Hornsby. “I will fight anyone that says Test cricket is not the finest sport in all of humanity. And I have no idea who’ll win this Test match. Though it would be so England to be facing 340-9 at lunch tomorrow.”
65th over: Australia 205-8 (Siddle 16, Lyon 8) Siddle, who is an excellent No9, waves Archer confidently through the covers for four more. This is Archer’s 22nd over of the day, although his pace is still good – the follow-up bouncer is clocked at 86.5mph.
“So now we know Smith’s weak spot,” says Derek Walmsley. “Bowl over 1100 deliveries at him, and then watch his concentration go to pieces.”
If only this was a 15-Test series. He’s shot to bits.
64th over: Australia 201-8 (Siddle 12, Lyon 8) So, we could be heading for the first drawn Ashes since 1972. That’s such an unlikely statistic – no drawn series in almost 50 years. Yep, I can count.
“Are these the worst batting stats, ever, for two teams in an Ashes series?” asks John Jones. “Woeful.”
They aren’t even close. In the 19th century, 150 was usually a good score. In fact in the 1888 series, the average runs per wicket was 11.11. The average this year, 29.81, is the lowest in an Ashes series since 1998-99.
63rd over: Australia 198-8 (Siddle 9, Lyon 8) Jofra Archer returns, hunting the second five-for of his short Test career. Siddle thumps a full delivery through extra cover for three, and that’s your lot.
62nd over: Australia 195-8 (Siddle 6, Lyon 8) Woakes, you could argue, is the only England bowler who has got Smith out in this series – once at Edgbaston and once today. The other dismissals were all when Smith was hitting out in pursuit of quick runs.
The new batsman Lyon gets some quick runs of his own, twice thick-edging Woakes for four.
“Rob, you said that Curran might not be in if Stokes was fully fit,” says Adam Roberts. “But what was the thinking for the 4th Test? As I asked during the OT Test, ‘What does Overton bring to this team that others such as Curran (or Woakes) don’t?’ OK, Overton did well as a batsman but Curran is a proven performer with bat and ball.”
I assume they thought that pitch would offer more bounce, as Old Trafford often does. If so, they misread it, but I understand the logic.
Breaking news: Steve Smith is out. Where’s Walter Cronkite when you need him? Smith walked across his stumps to the new bowler Woakes, missed the usual flick to leg and was plumb LBW. He didn’t even bother to review. It’s often said that you can’t bowl straight to Smith, but he does get out LBW a fair bit. He also flicks millions of deliveries for four, so there’s that.
61st over: Australia 187-7 (Smith 80, Siddle 6) Leach continues with a maiden to Siddle.
60th over: Australia 187-7 (Smith 80, Siddle 6) Curran moves around the wicket to Siddle, immediately slipping one past the outside edge, and them moves back over to beat Smith with a short ball. That’s drinks.
Meantime, I love this stat. Steve Smith’s lowest score of the series is 80 not out. Only three players – Stokes, Burns and Wade – have a highest score in excess of 80.
“Interesting,” says Gary Naylor. “Very interesting.”
I’ve been wondering about this all series. If the regulations are adhered to, both sides should end the series with 0 points. Am I wrong?
59th over: Australia 185-7 (Smith 79, Siddle 5) Jack Leach replaces Jofra Archer, who has figures of 20-9-48-4. Smith shows all three stumps and takes a delivery right off middle stump, like the bohemian genius he is. He has moved stealthily to within 21 of another hundred.
58th over: Australia 182-7 (Smith 76, Siddle 5) If England do rip it up and start again, Curran and Pope are the kind of young players they should invest in. Curran’s big-match temperament is so impressive, and he almost picks up a fourth wicket when Siddle survives a couple of LBW appeals after playing around the inswinger. Both were missing leg.
“Sages were writing Curran off as being destined to be a batsman who bowls last season, but I saw that the hat-trick ball was up at 88mph and he seems to have increased his pace compared to last year,” says Tom Bowtell. “If he can get up regularly to 85 and keep the swing, he could be quite the player.”
I suspect the length of his Test career will be determined by his ability to Chamindavaas wickets when the ball isn’t swinging. When it does swing, he’s a big threat, but when you pick an XI you can’t be sure whether the ball will swing.
57th over: Australia 182-7 (Smith 76, Siddle 5) Smith is beaten by Archer, swishing outside off stump with fast hands. The next ball is short, forcing Smith to bend his back to get out of the way. This is a terrific contest – not quite as good at Lord’s, but still a fascinating struggle between a supernatural genius and a future all-time great.
56th over: Australia 179-7 (Smith 75, Siddle 4) “Wonder if perhaps it was a huge mistake to not pick Curran for the first four Tests,” says Abdul Basit. “Could have added vital runs that might have saved the last Test, could have maybe taken much needed wickets. It was always a bizarre decision to drop him, and maybe Root missed a trick.”
I don’t think they know his role, and he might not have played here had Ben Stokes been fit to bowl. I suspect they were burned by those Tests in the West Indies as well. He’s such an exciting player, though; with the possible exception of Jack Crawford, no England allrounder has had as big an impact at such a young age.
55th over: Australia 179-7 (Smith 75, Siddle 4) Smith cuts Archer for four, another emphatic stroke, before slicing a less deliberate boundary between second and fourth slip. Archer has bowled beautifully at Smith today – but he still hasn’t dismissed him in this series. Their battle has been a bit like Anderson v Kohli last summer.
54th over: Australia 170-7 (Smith 66, Siddle 4) Siddle edges the hat-trick ball – an attempted yorker that turned into a low full toss – all along the ground for four. We talk a lot, probably too much, about what Sam Curran can’t do; we should focus more on his priceless ability to make decisive contributions with bat and ball.
That was a classic left-armer’s dismissal, a big inswinger that trapped Cummins in front as he pushed around his front pad. It was actually Steve Smith who encouraged Cummins to review, thinking it was missing leg. In fact it was hitting middle and leg, so Australia lose a review. More importantly, Sam Curran is on a hat-trick!
WICKET! Australia 166-7 (Cummins LBW b Curran 0)
What an awful review. I assumed he must have inside-edged it, because it was absolutely plumb.
WICKET! Australia 166-6 (Paine c Bairstow b Curran 1)
Well bowled Sam Curran! Paine tries to drive a tempting, full-length delivery that moves away a fraction to take the edge, and Bairstow does the rest. Curran has quietly had an excellent day.
53rd over: Australia 166-5 (Smith 66, Paine 1) Smith gets a leading edge off Archer that lands safely on the off side. He’s had a fair bit of luck today, at least by his standards. The next ball whistles just past both the outside edge and the off stump; Smith nods in appreciation. A maiden. Both players look like they are building towards another mighty head-to-head contest.
52nd over: Australia 166-5 (Smith 66, Paine 1) A fine maiden from Curran to Paine. He has an LBW shout turned down – missing leg – and then slips one past the outside edge.
“A ‘renaissance in fast bowling’,” sniffs Mark Dawson. “Really? The Aussies have a couple, which doesn’t help much when it comes to assessing Smith’s status. India now have one, who’s probably the best quick Indian bowler ever but hardly Holdingesque. England have Anderson and Broad, both excellent but I’d suggest also not in the McGrath/Marshall class. Archer might be, and quite soon. Time always lends lustre, but I’m with Neil Thapa: today’s bowlers aren’t on the same level as those faced by Border, Ponting and Waugh. Which is not to disparage Smith: you can only beat, dispirit, and humiliate what’s in front of you.”
India have a lot more than one, I would say, and South Africa had a very good attack when Smith faced them. He also averages around 100 against 90+mph deliveries. I was referring as much to the moving ball, which was previously his weakness.
51st over: Australia 166-5 (Smith 66, Paine 1) A bouncer from Archer to Smith beats everyone and goes for four wides. I missed much of that over as I was getting my hands dirty on Statsguru.
Steve Smith’s current series average is 147.40, the highest in Ashes history (min: three innings). He’s fourth on the list as well.
50th over: Australia 160-5 (Smith 66, Paine 0) You couldn’t make it up department: Steve Smith has been dropped by Joe Root! He flapped at a wide bouncer from Curran – it might have been a slower one – and edged it towards the slip. Root and Stokes both leapt towards the ball, and it hit Root’s right palm before falling to the ground.
49th over: Australia 160-5 (Smith 66, Paine 0) Tim Paine survives a huge LBW shout first ball. It was sliding down, I think, and there might have been an inside edge as well. Still, it’s a wicket maiden from Archer, who now has 20 wickets at 17.45 in his debut Test series.
“I should have got Brian Bolus as he was a Notts man at one time,” says John Starbuck of Robert Smithson’s list. “Nice to see Slasher Mackay in the list though; his reputation disguised how dogged he must have been.”
Slasher Mackay and Trevor Bailey is the great lost T20 partnership.