12.53pm EDT 12:53 87th over: England 195-8 (Overton 20, Leach 12) A short ball from Cummins hits Overton on the arm. That gives the physio the chance to walk down the steps. “Easy does it on those stairs – health and safety,” says Nasser Hussain on commentary. Overton actually tells the physio to stay by
87th over: England 195-8 (Overton 20, Leach 12) A short ball from Cummins hits Overton on the arm. That gives the physio the chance to walk down the steps. “Easy does it on those stairs – health and safety,” says Nasser Hussain on commentary. Overton actually tells the physio to stay by the boundary edge. We must be due a drinks break soon as well. It’s getting very heated, and not just on Jack Leach’s glasses.
Cummins is ramming almost everything into the pitch now, prompting a few pantomime boos from the crowd. He beats Overton with a length delivery – but it’s a no-ball, which is good for Australia. They get an extra delivery; more importantly it’s a warning for Cummins to watch his front foot because they will check if he takes a wicket. Overton survives the remainder of the over – 18 to go, and there’s a pulsating atmosphere at Old Trafford.
“You can never stop,” says Niall Mullen. “You’re our liveblog Sisyphus. Every time you roll the OBO up one side of the hill it just rolls down the other side…”
But, Niall, I’m 94 years old.
There’s no cap on playing time, unless bad light stops play. Craig Overton has a change of bat, which takes up a minute or so. I suspect we’ll get at least 12 of the remaining 19 overs, if necessary. But this might not take long, because Cummins has gone to a whole new level of nastiness.
86th over: England 195-8 (Overton 20, Leach 12) Lyon replaces Hazlewood, with six men round the bat. Leach survives a hopeful LBW appeal from a ball that straightened – but only after pitching outside leg stump. After that he defends solidly, and it’s yet another maiden. Nineteen overs to go.
“This is, of course simultaneously unbearable and brilliant,” says Guy Hornsby. “I can’t take much more so I’m going for a run with TMS on, one that was supposed to be calming me down after our inevitable pre-tea capitulation. We all know that it’s still not going to happen but…. oh CRICKET.”
85th over: England 195-8 (Overton 20, Leach 12) Tim Paine puts his around Cummins’ shoulder, and asks him to extract blood from a stone one last time. The Aussie seamers look shattered, understandably given their relentless yakka. Cummins has decided to bomb Leach, who gloves a horrible bouncer to safety on the off side. That could have gone anywhere.
Leach takes a break to clean his glasses. Marais Erasmus has a word, so Leach politely points out that dealing with 90mph bouncers tends to steam up your lenses. The physio runs on, hoping to waste a bit of time with a concussion test. Leach tells him he just needed to clean his glasses, and then jumps under a follow-up bouncer.
Cummins follows up with a few hard-faced words, his eyes full of malevolence. This is terrific stuff. Leach was hit very badly by Morne Morkel last year, which affected him enormously until he got that 92 against Ireland. He’s showing so much courage, not to mention clarity under such extreme pressure.
Twenty overs remaining.
84th over: England 194-8 (Overton 20, Leach 11)
CLEAN YOUR BLOODY GLASSES, LEACH! ACCIDENTALLY BREAK A LENS SO THAT YOU HAVE TO GET ANOTHER PAIR! SPECSAVERS DOESN’T OPEN UNTIL 9AM MONDAY MORNING FFS!!! YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT, YOU’RE AN UNOFFICIAL BLOODY AMBASSADOR FOR THEM!
Hazlewood replaces Starc. Leach turns him off the pads for three. Moves into double figures. Staccato sentences hereon in. 21 overs left. Huge applause. Help.
83rd over: England 191-8 (Overton 20, Leach 8) Cummins beats Overton with a beautiful delivery in the corridor. That aside he’s a fraction too wide, allowing Overton to leave a few deliveries. Yet another maiden. Whatever happens, England have fought admirably today. I suppose rearguards like this make their dozy, laissez-faire performances even more frustrating.
“I don’t know much about cricket, and many of your updates seem to be in a foreign language,” says Kirsty, “but I’m sitting here in my flat in the South of France thoroughly enjoying the match (and cheering England on!), remembering childhood summers in Sussex with my dad watching cricket on TV with the sound off and the radio commentary on… I’m supposed to be working, but reading the minute-by-minute is much more entertaining!”
It’s just as much fun to write, especially during heart-stopping finishes like this, the Headingley Test and the World Cup final. I could do this every day! In an unrelated query, does anyone know of a vacancy for a fortysomething trainee barista? Doesn’t have to be a salaried position.
82nd over: England 191-8 (Overton 20, Leach 8) Leach is beaten by a nasty lifter from Starc. “That’s more like it from Mitchell Starc – get nasty,” says Shane Warne, which is entirely inappropriate before the watershed. Leach, to huge cheers, turns Starc off the pads for four. It’s getting slightly darker at Old Trafford, and the floodlight are on, but we’re a long way from bad light stopping play. Leach cleans his glasses at the end of the over. Were he so inclined, that would be a great timewasting tactic.
“I woke up at 4am to the delightful sound of torrential rain,” says David Farrelly. “Then I realized I was in Utah and not at Old Trafford. The first rain for months here. Right time, wrong place.”
81st over: England 186-8 (Overton 19, Leach 4) Pat Cummins returns, with the second new ball in his huge right hand. He needs one for his five-for and two for the match. If anyone deserves to take an Ashes-winning wicket, it’s him. His first over is a bit of a loosener, which Leach defends reasonably comfortably – at least until the final delivery, which zips past the inside edge.
Another maiden, the 25th of the innings. England have parked the bus. There have been 22 runs from the last 16 overs, and more than half of those have been edges for four. There are 24 overs/144 balls remaining. Realistically, we won’t get all those. England need to survive another 80-90 minutes, at which point the light will became a factor.
80th over: England 186-8 (Overton 19, Leach 4) Starc goes around the wicket to Overton, a sure sign the ball is reversing. He has three slips, silly point, short leg and leg gully. Overton again uses his reach to defend, and gets a bonus boundary from a thick edge all along the floor. He’s survived 74 deliveries in this innings, more than anyone except Denly and Buttler. The second new ball is available.
79th over: England 182-8 (Overton 15, Leach 4) Lyon changes ends to replace Hazlewood, who blew the bloody doors off with the wicket off Jos Buttler. Leach is surrounded by six fielders, plus Paine and the bowler Lyon; he softens his hands to play out a maiden.
78th over: England 182-8 (Overton 15, Leach 4) Back comes Mitchell Starc, the man who eats tailenders for his sport. Leach is beaten twice – but he survives, and does especially well to dig out a brilliant yorker off the last delivery. For some reason he also takes a single to keep the strike. Overton should be taking as much as possible.
77th over: England 181-8 (Overton 15, Leach 3) Overton does extremely well to survive some vicious inswingers from Hazlewood before taking a single off the fourth delivery. England can’t survive another 28 overs of such relentless bowling, although Leach does cheer the crowd up by clipping off his pads for three.
“Hi Rob, I’m following the cricket from the balcony of a restaurant in Bucharest,” says Steve Clowes. “On a giant screen, a football match is about to begin with Hagi starting for Romania against Malta. I’m not trapped in the 1980s; it’s the great one’s son. I haven’t spotted any budding Romanian spin bowlers yet.”
It was a monstrous inswinging yorker from Hazlewood to Overton, which hit something and flew to fine leg for four. The umpire thought it was inside edge – but replays suggest it wasn’t! There was a scuff of bat on ground, not ball, and then it brushed the back pad before continuing past the leg stump. But the fact it hit the back pad and still missed leg stump meant that, you guessed it, it was going to miss leg stump anyway. It was some delivery though.
REVIEW! England 173-8 (Overton not out 14)
Oh my goodness. I don’t know where to start.
Australia review for LBW! I have no idea whether this is out or not.
76th over: England 173-8 (Overton 14, Leach 0) Once more unto the Leach: everyone’s favourite spectacle-wearer has been promoted to No10. His first defensive stroke prompts a huge cheer.
75th over: England 173-7 (Overton 14, Archer 1) Jofra Archer is the new batsman. He almost kicks the ball onto his stumps via the back of his standing foot.
That was a brilliant delivery to Buttler from Hazlewood, which came back a fair way to hit the top of off stump. That’s what he and Cummins have done all series.
Buttler was set up beautifully there The field was set for the short ball, but Hazlewood sent down a lovely fullish inswinger. Buttler offered no stroke and then heard the miserable sound of his off stump being pegged back.
74th over: England 171-6 (Buttler 34, Overton 13) Overton shovels Lyon off the pads for a run, or a dot ball by another name. It’s not going to rain, but light could become a factor if England take this past 6.30pm. This pair have now batted for 20 overs; I reckon they need to survive at least another 15 for England to have a realistic chance of some twilight robbery.
73rd over: England 170-6 (Buttler 34, Overton 12) We’ve already had two heart-stoppers this summer. Surely we’re not heading for a third. Buttler is beaten by a grotesque legcutter from Hazlewood. Sheesh, even Steve Smith wouldn’t have nicked that. It’s another maiden. We’ve had six runs from the last eight overs, and nobody gives a fig. Four of those were off the edge as well. It’s over-my-dead-bat stuff from Buttler and Overton.
72nd over: England 170-6 (Buttler 34, Overton 12) Overton’s height is allowing him to get a long way forward to a number of Lyon’s deliveries, killing any spin at source. The likeliest dismissal looks like a catch round the corner or at short leg from a slightly shorter delivery. For now, another maiden: 72 overs down, 33 to go.
“This has been such a weird series,” says Felix Wood. “On the one hand Australia could win 3-1 and be very unlucky not to win 4-0. On the other, there’s still a very small chance England could win the series, and could argue that but for Smith, a dropped catch at Lord’s and their best bowler being injured after four overs in the first Test (meaning one Test being played with ten men effectively) they could have won the series comfortably. Swap Smith for Root, certainly, and there would have been no contest.”
Yes. It feels like a cross between the 2010-11 Ashes, when the away side’s superiority eventually told, and England’s steal against South Africa in 1998. I still think it’ll end 3-1 Australia though, and that’s probably the right result.
71st over: England 170-6 (Buttler 34, Overton 12) Hazlewood to Buttler, bowling very straight in an attempt to maximise any uneven bounce. Buttler defends, and defends some more. This has been comfortably his best innings since approximately 14 July 2019. He has a bit of fortune off the last delivery, though, thick edging along the ground for four.
“Fourteen years since 2005, eh?” says Simon McMahon. “I was 33 during that summer, so always think (in a parallel universe where I was an international-class cricketer) that I could have played in that England side, as one of the elder statesman, guiding the less experienced players to a famous victory. A Mike Brearley figure, if you will. I always thought it a bit of a shame that at least one of the 1990’s stalwarts, say Atherton, Stewart, Thorpe, Gough or McCague, who had endured so much suffering at the hands of the Aussies, did not get one last shot at redemption.”
Yes, I know what you mean. Michael Vaughan would argue that’s why they won, because they had no players with significant mental scarring. At least Gough played a part in setting the aggressive tone during the white-ball games. His growl at Andrew Symonds in the T20 game was especially funny.
70th over: England 166-6 (Buttler 30, Overton 12) Australia celebrate a non-wicket from the first ball after tea when Craig Overton chests Lyon to short leg. Kumar Dharmasena says not out, and Australia don’t review. The next ball is pad-batted just past Head at silly point. “He’s too close there!” says Ricky Ponting on commentary. Overton is surrounded now: silly point, slip, short leg, leg slip, short midwicket. He survives the rest of the over: 35 to go.
“Good afternoon,” says Damian Clarke. “I feel Mr. Sawyer’s pain. There was a thing called Band T-shirt Day a couple of years ago, where apparently one is allowed to wear said shirt to work. My only band t shirt was a uber cool Bunnymen one from my younger days, with Pope John Paul II wearing fluorescent pink rabbit ears. When I dug (and dug, and dug) it out, it looked like it would better fit my eight-year-old nephew than my current self.”
Wasn’t it Steve Lamacq who introduced that idea? It’s fine when you have his physique. Even though I work from home, I don’t think I’ll be digging out my Menswe@r number for next year’s T-shirt Day.
Here come the batsmen, to another ovation. If England pull this off, the place will go bananas.
That opening over from Pat Cummins last night, which was awesome at the time, now looks even better. As does Steve Smith’s extraordinary innings, in some ways his best of the series, which enabled Australia to declare earlier than expected.
Once more unto the Leach, dear friends, once more…If England are to save this match, Jack Leach will surely have to do it again. Australia need four wickets; England need 216 balls, or some very bad light.
69th over: England 166-6 (Buttler 30, Overton 12) Labuschagne replaces Starc and has a huge shout for LBW against Overton turned down by Marais Erasmus. Very close, this, and Paine is tempted… but he decides not to review. It was a lovely delivery, but there was a bit of doubt over height. Yes, Hawkeye shows it was bouncing over the stumps.
That’s tea. Buttler and Overton walk off to a lusty ovation. England are fighting so hard to keep the Ashes alive: Buttler has 30 from 96 balls, Overton 12 from 47. But there are still 216 balls remaining.
68th over: England 164-6 (Buttler 29, Overton 11) Lyon continues to rip the ball as much as possible, even though his spinning finger is clearly causing a lot of pain. Another maiden to the diligent Overton. One more over until tea. Unless…
“Is it too early,” says Niall Mullen, “to send the physio on?”
Haha. That’s one of the funnier things I’ve seen on a cricket field, especially as it turned out he was an Australian and Ponting was his hero. I believe that, among others, Ponting deployed the letters F and C.
67th over: England 164-6 (Buttler 29, Overton 11) There hasn’t been much swing for Starc in this spell, which is a surprise given how much Cummins was making it talk. Buttler continues to play his unnatural game, leaving or defending almost everything. Another maiden. Well played.
66th over: England 164-6 (Buttler 29, Overton 11) Overton survives another LBW shout from Lyon. Outside the line I reckon, though it was close. A maiden. Overton has survived 38 balls, which is a fine effort in the circumstances. If there were three Overtons to come, England would have a chance.
“Is it possible that injuries, loss of form and Smith have meant that the Aussies will retain the Ashes rather than big selection errors or structural failings in English cricket?” says Niall Mullen.
Yes. But I’d also argue this England team has been drifting and underachieving for three or four years now. You can’t just ignore that and keep picking players on reputation. It’s all become a bit Gerrard/Lampard. And it’s about bloody time Stewart Downing got a game!
65th over: England 164-6 (Buttler 29, Overton 11) Starc returns to the attack, and Buttler times a lovely square drive for four. A bit of traffic news: a pile-up of wickets earlier this afternoon has caused a bit of a delay, which means England fans won’t arrive in the village of Hope until at least 5pm. (There are 40 overs remaining.)
“Please stick in a mention for Afghanistan, who have to take just four wickets in a full day tomorrow, with a 262-run cushion, to beat Bangladesh at home,” says Romeo. “Bangladesh are not easily beaten at home.”
Yes, good point. That’ll be a monstrous and thoroughly heartwarming victory. I see Rashid Khan is having a heck of a match on his debut as captain.