‘Ashes’ 3rd Test at Headingly England v Australia July 6-10th

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

ENGLAND’S Mark Wood terrorised Australia’s tail with  four wickets  for five in 16 balls to put England in charge of the first day at Headingley as Australia lost their last five wickets for 23 in eight overs but it could have been better for England if they hadn’t dropped four catches.

Wood finished with  five wickets for 34 and said: “It’s a nice feeling to get five wickets, my mam and dad were here and it’s the first time that they’ve seen me take five wickets.  It was the movement that got the wickets, but I am really happy because my record in England isn’t that great and I felt that I had a point to prove.”

Wood  came into the side replacing James Anderson and took five for 34, his fourth five wicket haul and he  soon showed what England have been missing as his  first three overs were the fastest three overs bowled by England. In his fourth over he got one to swing back in at Usman Khawaja who played over it and his stumps were demolished by the pace. Wood bowled three maidens in his first four overs only conceding two runs and his slowest speed was 90 mph.

Wood added: “ I would have loved to have played in the first two tests but the team selection for the first Test went the other way and I wasn’t fit for the second.  One thing I can do is contribute for the next two but I am pleased that I didn’t have to bowl more than 12 overs.”

Alex Carey was booed all the way to the crease, he got off the mark with a cover drive boundary.  Aussie captain Pat Cummins’ reception was just as hostile as Carey’s, two balls later he was on his way back to the hutch when he was plumb leg before to Wood. Wood swung one back in at  Mitchell Starc and bowled him.  Carey received a gift from England when he flashed at Chris Woakes and the ball burst through Joe Root’s hands.After he was hit on the helmet by Wood, Carey backed away and smashed him into the offside where Woakes took the catch.  Wood got his fifth wicket when Todd Murphy dragged one back  attempting a big off drive.

Wood said: “It’s disappointing when catches go down but it can’t be helped so we just move on.”

Mitchell Marsh not only top scored with 118 but he also took a wicket.  Zak Crawley looked comfortable until he pushed at Marsh and  David Warner at first slip took the catch.

Playing his first Test match  since the Oval Test in 2019 Marsh  hit his third Test century, they have all come against England and it was  his first outside Australia.  On the stroke of tea Marsh  got an inside edge on to his thigh and the ball flew to Crawley at second slip.

Marsh said : “I just  wanted to wear my baggy green cap one more time. I got a chance and I wanted to be the first man to get a Test century while  on holiday. I think that match is now set up for a great game of cricket.  I trust my defences when I need to, outside that I am going to play my shots.  I think that Travis Head and me got us in a decent position and the game is evenly poised and if we get a couple of early wickets we are into them.”

When Marsh went in at lunch with   Head Australia were on 91 for four and 200 seemed a long way off when Marsh was dismissed on the stroke of tea he had added 113 from 109 balls as he made England pay for dropping him on 12.  Marsh backed away from Woakes and hung his bat out, Woakes found his edge and the ball flew to Root  at first slip and after juggling with it he dropped a sitter. 

Playing in  his first match since May 13th Marsh’s 118 easily beat his previous highest test score in England of 27 made at the Oval in 2019.  England thought they had Marsh caught by Crawley at second slip but the umpire was unmoved, England reviewed at the replay showed that the ball had hit his pad.  Three  balls later he drilled Ollie Robinson to the cover boundary to bring up the 50 partnership with Head in 11 overs and Marsh had scored 42 of them.

He pulled Wood into the West stand for a six to take him to 49. Marsh worked Robinson off his legs for a single to bring up his 50 off 59 balls in 33 Test matches with two sixes and four fours.  He was in a brutal mood as he smashed Wood straight to the mid on boundary.

Marsh  drilled Moeen Ali straight into the Howard stand and dabbed the next ball out to point for a single aided by a misfield from substitute Will Luxton to bring up his century.   Marsh added: “ I didn’t want to spend too long in the 90’s.”

His partner Head was very much the silent partner but Marsh was very good at taking a single off the last ball.  On nine Head glanced  Wood  off his hips but Jonny Bairstow dropped the chance.  Head drove Moeen Ali beautifully through the extra cover boundary for his shot of the day.

Wood added: “I think that Marsh won his battle with me, his knock was special but we’ll have to find a way to combat him in the second innings. Marsh and Head’s partnership dragged the game back to them.

For the third consecutive Test England won the toss and for the second consecutive match put Australia into bat on a pitch with a tinge of green in a match which England must win to keep the series alive.

After the first ball of the match had  been driven to the long on boundary by Warner, four balls later Stuart  Broad  had his revenge when Warner edged him and Crawley. On four Steve Smith got an inside edge to Robinson but Bairstow diving to his left could only get his fingertips to it and the ball ran to the boundary.  Bairstow managed to catch one whe Smith got an inside edge to Broad.  Smith reviewed it and the replay showed he had edged it.

Woakes got one to rear up at Marnus Labuschange who prodded  at it and edged it to Root at first slip who took a comfortable waiste high catch.  After two balls of his 12th over Robinson walked off the field.

Australia got an early  breakthrough when Ben Duckett tried to flay at one that was too close to cut and Carey took a good catch leaping to his left.  Harry Brook batting at an unaccustomed number three pushed at Cummins and Smith at second slip took a low catch.

Both teams made three changes from Lord’s for Wood, Woakes and Moeen Ali came in for Ollie Pope, James Anderson and Josh  Tongue while Australia brought in Todd Murphy, Scott Bolan and  Marsh for the injured Nathan Lyon,  Cameron Green and Josh Hazelwood.

Day 2

BEN Stokes produced another captain’s innings to take England to 26  behind Australia’s first innings with an hard hitting 80  but at lunchtime England were 121 behind with only three wickets standing.

Mark Wood came in after lunch with one intention to put bat to ball.  He pulled the first ball after lunch from Mitchell Starc for a six over mid wicket, backed away from the next ball and slashed him to the third man boundary and hooked the third ball for a six over square leg.  As he lived by the sword he died by the sword when he top edged a pull off Pat Cummins  and the ball looped in the air. Mitchell  Marsh waited an eternity for the ball but eventually took the catch with the West stand jeering and willing  him to drop it which he didn’t.

With the departure of Wood, Stokes followed his lead.  Every time Stokes played a shot he looked in agony and he hobbled between the wickets. In no time Stokes and Stuart Broad had added 30.  On 43 he got too far under a drive off Todd Murphy and Starc. coming in from the long off boundary dropped the chance.  Murphy fumbled a return chance off the next ball. Stokes had an earlier slice of luck when he was on  10 he  was hit on the pads by Scott Boland and given not out, Cummins reviewed it and the replay showed it had hit Stokes outside the line.

Stokes reached his 42nd Test 50 from 86 balls with a straight six off Murphy, the next ball followed the previous ball into the Howard stand.  He swept Murphy over backward square leg for a six and he casually placed the next ball over long into the Howard stand for another six.   Murphy was hammered into the West Stand for another six by Stokes.  Going for another straight six he found Steve Smith  on the long on boundary. His fifth catch, the first time a non wicket keeper has taken five catches in an Ashes innings.  During his 80, Stokes  passed 6,000 Test runs.

Australia coach Andrew McDonald added: “When Ben Stokes is there you  are never in control.  The wicket has slowed up and it  has made it harder to score and there is a little bit of turn.  I thought  Murphy had  a tough entry to Ashes cricket.”

Moeen Ali said: “The way that Wood played shifted the momentum towards us and Stokes did what he’s  been doing for a long time.  His body has been through a lot and hopefully he’ll get through the series..”

What Stokes did with the bat,  Australia captain Cummins did with the ball by finishing the England innings with six for 91.  On a glorious cloudless Friday morning it looked  ideal for batting but it turned out to be  ideal for bowling.  Australia captain Cummins took two wickets to go with his two yesterday and Starc got a couple as England lost four wickets for 74 in 24.1 overs.

Joe Root edged the second ball of the day from Cummins to David Warner at first slip who clung on to it for dear life. Jonny Bairstow got a thick edge to  an expansive drive off Starc and Smith took a shoulder high catch at second slip on the Australian unlucky number.

Moeen Ali and Stokes couldn’t get the ball away but they still added 44 in 15 overs before Moeen Ali pulled Cummins up in the air  and Smith running from the fine leg boundary took the catch.

Chris Woakes got hit on the helmet by Starc and pulled the next ball for a six.  He fell on the stroke of lunch when he top edged Starc and Alex Carey took the catch.

Cummins got his sixth wicket when Broad pulled him and Smith ran round from fine leg and took a good catch with another  in his eye line. Oll,is Robinson pulled Cummins to the mid wicket boundary and clutched his back. McDonald added: “I thought Cummins was outstanding,

Trailing by 26 England got an early wicket when for the 12th time in the last three Ashes series Broad dismissed Warner.  Broad squared him up found his edge and Zak Crawley took the catch.

The final session of the day was vital with  Robinson unable to bowl till he had been on the field for the same amount of time he was off the field England were up against it and Australia could bat England out of the game.  Then it got worse on 33 MARNUS Labuschange glanced Wood off his hips but Bairstow couldn’t hold on to catch.  Fortunately for England it didn’t prove expensive.  In the next over without adding to his score Labuschange slog/swept Moeen Ali down Harry Brook’s throat on the mid wicket boundary. in Moeen Ali’s next over Smith smashed him straight to Duckett at short mid wicket to become Moeen Ali’s 200th Test victim.

Moeen Ali added: “I didn’t think that I would  get any wickets on this pitch.  I was 

really pleased that after lunch we ended up 20 behind.  We are still in the game and we’ve got a great chance tomorrow morning if we get a couple of crucial wickets.”

Usman Khawaja seemed to be unmovable until Woakes angled one across him took his edge and Bairstow took a low catch. England had got the wicket they wanted, with six second innings wickets left Australia were only 116 ahead.

Marsh beautifully drove Broad to the cover boundary and Australia finished the day 142 ahead.  McDonald added: “ I think the match is 50/50 but we feel that we are in a strong position.”

Day 3

IT TOOK England 47 overs on the third day to take the remaining six Australian wickets to leave them to get 251 in over two days.

England had to bat for 24 minutes to bat which turned into five overs in which they scored 27 leaving them needing another 224.  Their only scare came when the  Aussies went for a catch down the legside off Duckett but umpire Kumar Dharmasena was unmoved so they reviewed and the replay showed Ben  Duckett hadn’t got a touch on it.

Play finally got underway on the third day at 4.45 because of rain in overcast conditions and Chris Woakes opened the bowling with a field set for short pitched bowling instead of swing bowling to Travis  Head.  After one over they were off again  for rain. 14 minutes later they were back on.  Head said: “It’s not ideal to bat for one over.”

It was Woakes who got two early wickets in 13 balls for seven runs. First Mitchell Marsh tried to leave a short ball from him and the ball brushed his glove on its way to Jonny Bairstow. Alex Carey became Woakes’ second victim of the short session when he too tried to leave a short one but chopped on.

Woakes said: “I love playing Test cricket and when you’re out there in the heat of the battle and taking wickets for England it’s an  amazing feeling.  When we got that window to play it’s not easy for the batsmen so we had to make sure that we made it work.  I prefer to bowl down the hill here and not up the hill as I did today to take my wickets. If I am called upon to bat tomorrow I will do my best for England. We are still 220 runs away from winning and I am sure that the Aussies realise that they are 10 wickets away from winning the Ashes.”

Head top scored for Australia with 77 and was the last man out. On 32 he  turned Mark Wood off his hips, fortunately for Head it went wide off Harry Brook at short leg.  But Wood got a wicket with his next ball. Mitchell  Starc spooned it in the air and Brook went for it but stopped when he saw Bairstow going for it, restarted and dove for the ball where a leg gully would have been.

Head added: “We would have liked a few more but we’ve got a total and we’ve got to be at our very best tomorrow but it’s nice to contribute.  I just tried to give myself room and tried not to be too predictable.  There’s a lot on the table tomorrow but it’s a nice place to be with the series on the line.”

Wood got the finest of edges to Oat Cummins’ bat and  Bairstow took the catch but Cummins reviewed it.  The replay showed he had edged it.

With the field spread wide to get Todd Murphy on strike, Head did well to marshal Murphy away from the strike.  With the England fielders struggling to see the ball on the eastern side of the ground because of the sun Head blasted Wood to the square leg boundary to bring up his 16th Test 50 from 50 balls.  Head launched Woakes into the West stand for another  six and smashed Wood to the vacant long off boundary.

The partnership between Head and Murphy was broken when Broad was brought back into the attack and Murphy was adjudged leg before but Murphy reviewed it and it was umpires call.

With all the fielders on the boundary, Head pulled Wood into the East stand for a six. He pulled the next ball a bit finer but still had the same result.  Head said: “ I feel I’ e  played the short ball better as the series has gone on.”

Head clipped Stuart Broad  off his legs and Duckett coming in from the mid wicket boundary called for it and took the catch.

Day 4

ENGLAND kept the series alive with a three wicket victory over Australia with Yorkshireman Harry Brook top scoring with 75 but it was an eighth wicket partnership between Mark  Wood and Chris Woakes who saw England across the line.

During his innings Brook reached 1,000 Test runs in the fastest time for an England player. Brook was demoted to his normal position of five after his failure at three in the first innings, came in at the fall of Zak Crawley’s wicket at 93.  He   drove Scott Boland to the long-on boundary to bring up England’s hundred. He gave England fans a heart stopping moment when he edged Pat  Cummins but luckily for Brook it fell short off Alex Carey.

Brook pulled Cummins to mid wicket for a couple to  bring up his fifth Test 50 from 67 balls with six fours.  He pulled Cummins to the fine leg boundary to take their target to 40.  Brook chopped Cummins to the third man boundary to bring up the 50 partnership with Woakes.

Brook top edged a flat batted slap and  Mitchell Starc ran to cover to take the catch but he avoided colliding with Cummins who took the catch.  With Woakes they added 59 in 12 overs.

Australia captain Cummins said: “Starc was alright when I caught it.  He was fantastic. He’s becoming a more complete bower and to have a left armed whose in control of his skills is fantastic.”

England captain Ben Stokes said: “I thought Brook’s performance was an unbelievable effort.”

Wood carried on from his first innings knock  and hooked Cummins for a six over fine leg.  He slapped Starc to the cover boundary to take the target to seven.  Wood top edged a pull off Starc and Carey running towards the third an boundary couldn’t take the catch as the ball dropped despite getting an hand to it.  Woakes blasted Starc to the cover boundary to win the match.

Stokes added: “I’ve known Wood for 16 years and he just loves playing cricket and just keeps running. He’s got a special talent and I don’t know how because he’s only six stone wet through, his innings in the first innings was the turning point of the game.

It’s a big win in the context of the series and keeps our hopes of winning the Ashes alive.  I am over the moon that we’ve won this one. Woakes has been out of the game for a while and for him to perform as he did was fantastic.

I was a bit nervous at the end I was walking around the dressing room because I couldn’t do anything about it. I thought it was a really good Test match pitch, if you put the ball in the right areas the slips were always in the game. I  still think that we can be better.”

Cummins added: “On day one  Mitchell Marsh got us back in the game and on day two their tail put on a lot of runs with Stokes.  We had opportunities to win the game but it was another great Test match. The pitch didn't spin as much as we thought and  we would have liked to have bowled  Todd Murphy more. We’ve  got nine days till Manchester and I am sure that everyone will fit and refreshed,

We’ve had a wonderful run and it’s a shame that we lost this game but we’ll brush this one off.”

England added five singles to their overnight score off the first over from Starc without breaking sweat.  They  lost their first wicket of the day in the fifth over of the day when Ben  Duckett was leg before to Starc  for 23.  Duckett reviewed it straight away but he dId’nt get an inside edge.

Moeen Ali was promoted up the order to number three before  becoming Starc’s second victim of the morning when he was beaten for pace and lost his off stump.   Stokes said: “Moeen Ali came to us last night  and said that he wanted to bat at three because he felt that he could have a big impact on the game”

England’s 50 came up in the 12th over and Cummins bowled the first bouncer of the morning which went miles over Crawley’s head and stumper Carey’s for four byes. On 30 Crawley flashed Boland over Marsh’s outstretched fingertips at gully. After Australia got the ball changed, Crawley hit  a glorious four off Marsh then edged a drive off  the next ball to Carey.

Joe Root edged Boland along the ground to the third man boundary but 15 minutes before lunch and after adding 38 in nine overs with Yorkshire teammate Brook, Root gloved a pull shot off Cummins to give Carey his second catch  of the innings.

Brook slashed Starc over Marsh’s head to the third man boundary.  He cut Murphy’s second ball to the point boundary to bring up England’s 150.  In an extended morning session England added 126 for the loss of four wickets in 27 overs.

With 90 to win Stokes  was strangled down the legside with his bat a long way in front of his bat  to Starc. Australia thought they had the match when they got rid of Stokes and  Jonny Bairstow in two overs. Bairstow got off the mark with a Chinese cut off Boland. He was on his way back to the hutch when  he  dragged a wide one back from Starc on to his  stumps.  A stupid shot to play in the circumstances.



July 6, 2023 8:24 pm

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