‘Ashes’ England v Australia 4th Test at Old Trafford July 19-23

Neil Williams reports

Day 1

STUART Broad went into tea on 599 Test wickets, five balls after tea he had taken his 600th when Travis Head pulled a short ball that got big on him and he top edged it. 

Joe Root at wide fine leg took a tumbling catch to his left. Broad is now fifth in the list of all time wicket takers, of the four above only his teammate James Anderson is still playing with 688. 

Broad said: “ It was really special to get at the James Anderson end, it felt like the important wicket of the day.  I took my 500th Test wicket here but there was nobody here because of COVID so to get my 600th in front of a crowd is really memorable.  I am still playing because I’ve got an addiction to Test match cricket. I loved every minute of this series, I thought I would play in  only two Tests so to play in four is fantastic.  And it’s a series that just keeps giving.

Our aim is to get a first innings lead and get to chase it down, we are going to move the game forward and hope that the Manchester weather plays its part.”

Australia paid the penalty of playing an extra batter, if one doesn’t come off then another one will.   Marnus Labuschange said: “For me it made no difference to me whether we had an extra batter or not. My role is to get runs and big runs.  I think having an extra batter gives us confidence and I think the runs that the extra batter gets will be vital if we are to get 350.”

All the Australian batters apart from  Usman Khawaja got a start but they didn’t go on and get a big score.  Cameron Green replaced Todd Murphy as the one change from Headingley and for  the fourth consecutive Test, Ben Stokes won the toss  on a gloomy overcast morning and put Australia in but by the afternoon session it was  glorious.  By the close England had edged the day with Australia on 299 for nine with Chris Woakes taking four for 52.

Usman Khawaja was beaten by one that came back at him from Broad and umpire Joel Wilson gave him out after a strong appeal from Broad. Usman Khawaja reviewed it but was on his back to the hutch.

After looking confident in the first full over after drinks break, taken slightly  early  because the sun was reflecting from the seats at the James Anderson end, David  Warner edged  a drive of Woakes which left him and Jonny  Bairstow took the rising catch.  Australia wanted Warner to bat England out of the match. He despatched the first ball off the match from Broad to the cover boundary.  On six he edged Anderson wide of fourth slip to the third man boundary.

Warner’s wicket nearly brought the prized wicket of Steve  Smith who pulled his first ball to backward square leg and burst through the fingers of Mark  Wood who was  standing a few yards in from the boundary. Broad added: “I think that long delay got Warner out.”

Smith and Marnus Labuschagne had added 59 in 15 and looked to be building an huge stand in the afternoon when England got a breakthrough out of the blue. In the fifth over after lunch Smith walked across his stumps to Wood and was hit on the pads.  England’s appeal was turned down but Wood convinced Stokes to review it and the review showed it to be plumb.

Wood greeted Head with three short balls and in Wood’s next over he hit Head on the side of his grill.  He hit consecutive fours off Broad through the covers and extra cover.

Labuschange drove Broad to the cover boundary.  He clipped Woakes off his legs for three to bring up his first 50 of the series,which came from 114 balls with six fours and his 16th Test 50.   But  he was leg before to Moeen Ali off the next ball he faced. Initially he was given not out by umpire Wilson.  England reviewed it and it was hitting leg stump.  Labuschange and Head had added 63 in 13 overs and were grinding England into the dirt.  Labuschange said: “ We were so close to getting a big partnership but I was a bit lazy,”

Head was another Aussie who got in and failed to make a big score falling  two short off his 50.

Mitchell Marsh was in the same form as he was at Headingley and hit Moeen Ali straight for a six over long on.  In his next over Marsh drilled him twice in consecutive balls to the extra cover boundary.

Marsh’s partnership with Green should have been broken when Green dabbed Wood into the covers and set off for a single but then changed his mind sending Marsh. As he turned, Stokes ran into take the ball but failed to collect it. Marsh looked to make England pay big time for that error. He  clipped Wood off his legs to the fine leg boundary to bring up his fourth Test 50 from 56 balls with seven fours and a six.

After adding 65 with Marsh, Green  was hit on the pads by Woakes and was given out by umpire Wilson.  Green reviewed it but the replay showed it to be clipping.  Four balls later Woakes squared Marsh up who edged and Bairstow took a brilliant one handed catch moving to his right.

Woakes got his fourth wicket of the day when Australia took the new ball. Alex Carey tried to leave it but the ball glanced the inside edge and Baistow took a simple catch.  Broad said: “I thought Woakes was awesome and he’s been exceptional since he came in at Headingley.  He deserves to get his fifth wicket tomorrow.”

Labuschange added: “We feel disappointed that nobody got a big score.”

Day 2

ZAK Crawley hit 189, his first Test century against Australia and his fourth  in all as England showed their intent to power their way into a big lead before the forecasted rain comes on Saturday.

He reached his 150 off 150 balls and it was the fastest 150 scored at Emirates Old Trafford in a Test match.  In the afternoon session Crawley added  104 in 25 overs as he shared in two century partnerships, first with Moeen Ali and then with Joe Root.  The 25 year old Crawley  must have had his heart in his mouth when was given out leg before on 20 by umpire Joel Wilson but Crawley was reprieved when he reviewed it.

Crawley said: “I think that I had my share of luck today.   It was a lot of fun and I played some good shots along the way,  The captain and coach have backed me and that’s given me confidence and they’ve told me to win games for England. I like to be positive  because of the quality of their bowlers, I took a punt against their bowlers and it paid off.  I feel that I am at my best when I am attacking but at this level at the top of the order you get so many good balls that you are going to fail but playing with good players you try to emulate them and try to be more positive.”

He thumped Mitchell Marsh for an effortless six over long on for a six to take England into the lead.  His end came when he undereged a short ball from Cameron Green on to his stumps.  With Root they added 206 in 29 overs with Crawley’s 189 coming from 182 balls with w1 fours and three sixes.

After driving Green to the long on boundary he had another piece of luck when he  got a thin inside edge to Mitchell Starc which just evaded  Alex Carey diving to his left and ran to the boundary. On 138 the Aussies were convinced that they had him leg before to Pat Cummins but before they had time to review it the third umpire had called a no ball.

Crawley flayed Starch wide of the slips to the third man boundary to take him into the 90’s and smashed the next ball to the cover boundary.  He  reached his first Test century against Australia which came from 93 balls with 12 fours and a six  when he cut Cummins for a  couple. 

The Kent opener reversed swept Travis Head’s, Australia’s main spin option, first ball to the point boundary to bring up his  50 from 67 balls and the England hundred. Then he  swept the next ball over mid wicket for a six, his second six in his Test career.  He smeared Head over long on for a six to bring up the hundred partnership with Root in 13 overs.

Australia’s assistant coach Daniel Vettori said: “Crawley dominated from the moment  he came in and took the game to us and then took it to a new level.  It  a challenge to bowl at England but our  bowlers have enjoyed it because they are always in the game. With  Root the run rate got away from us because two batsmen were too good on the day.”

Moeen Ali, who shared in a  second wicket of 121 in 25 overs with Crawley, smashed a full toss from Head to the long on boundary. He reached his 50 when he drove Head to mid on when what should have been one turned out to be two when Cummins was wrong footed. His 50 came from 74 balls 15th Test 50 with seven fours.

For the first time in the series the Aussies looked  rattled and devoid of ideas but they didn’t do themselves any favours.  Without a frontline spinner the five pace bowlers bowled 11 no balls.

On 53, Moeen Ali to Cummins at wide mid on but couldn’t hold on to it.  That drop wasn’t too expensive, in the next over he pulled Starc and Usman Khawaja took a great catch at mid wicket moving to his right while most of the crowd were looking to the boundary. 

During his innings Moeen Ali passed the double of  3,000 Test runs and 200 wickets, the fourth Englishman to do that feat. His shot of the day  delightfully cover drive off  Cummins to the boundary but had an awful waft at the next ball.

Marsh who got Crawley out twice in the last Test at Headingley was not brought on until the 36th over part time spinner Head brought on ahead of him.  Root reversed scooped Marsh for a six over third man.

In the first over after tea the Aussies thought they Root caught at slip, umpire Nitin Menon was unsure and reviewed but the replay showed it came off his pad.  The former England captain went largely under the radar but his dismissal would have filled the Aussies with dread because he was bowled by one that didn’t get above shin high.  Four balls later Josh Hazelwood got one to rise at Ben Stokes.

Australia’s day got off to the worse start possible when Cummins drove the first ball of the day straight to Stokes at point who took an ankle high catch.  It could have got worse. Chris Woakes thought he had got his fifth wicket in the next over when Hazlewood backed away and gave catching practice to Crawley at second slip. But as Hazlewood walked third umpire Kumar Dharmasena had spotted a no ball but only square leg umpire Menon heard him and Hazlewood was brought back.

Woakes did get  his fifth wicket when Hazlewood backed away, hung his bat out and Duckett at third slip took the catch above his head.

Australia got an early breakthrough when Ben  Duckett edged Starc and Carey took and easy low catch.

As well as  leaving the frontline spinner out, being devoid of ideas the Aussies got another cause for concern when Starc landed awkwardly in fielding a drive and had to leave the field holding his shoulder but he reappeared on the field only to leave it again after he fielded a ball.

Day 3

JONNY Bairstow lit up Emirates Old Trafford on the third afternoon to make sure that only the weather can deny England  from levelling the series with a swashbuckling unbeaten 99.

Bairstow became the second Yorkshireman to be undefeated on 99 in an Ashes Test, the other was Sir Geoffrey Boycott at Perth in 1979/80 and the third England player to be stranded on 99 following Alex Tudor’s 99 against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1979. When play  started on the third day on time  despite morning rain the big question was how long would Ben Stokes bat on for before he declared. He batted on  and  England were  dismissed for 592 giving them a lead of 275.

He said:  “To score 99, I am very happy.  It was a nice partnership that got us 275 ahead  and to take four wickets, I don’t think we could have done much more.  But we’ve got to give credit to our bowling attack and we hope we can take some chances when play resumes.”

When Bairstow was joined by last man James  Anderson he was on 49, by the time Anderson was  out the pair had added 66 in eight overs with Anderson making five of them.  Bairstow added: “I think that Anderson is very good in those circumstances and he plays the short ball very well.” 

Bairstow reached his 25thTest 50, which came from 51 balls with four fours and a six,  when he flicked Mitchell Starc off his legs.   Then he  toyed with the Australia fielders when Captain Pat Cummins spread the field he still managed to find the boundary and when Cummins brought the field in, it was easy for  Bairstow to get a boundary. 

He said: “I would have liked a few more fielders up.?

He  hooked Josh Hazlewood into the party stand for another six then at the other end he pulled Cummins for a flat six. Bairstow who has had his critics this season swatted Cummins for another six over mid wicket for the shot of the day and  hooked Cameron Green to the fine leg boundary to take him into the 90’s.  By this time Cummins looked short bereaved of ideas and for the second day his fielders looked shot.  The bowlers tried to starve Bairstow off the strike by bowling high above Anderson’s head but time after time Bairstow was quick enough to race to the other end to take the strike while Alex Carey’s throws to the stumps missed.

Anderson was plumb  leg before to Green but in the vain hope that he might have got an inside edge or that it was missing Anderson reviewed it and the replay showed he was plumb.

England’s total of 592 included six of the top seven batters hitting 50’s and the last time  that happened was in April 1930 when England hit  849 against the West Indies in a timeless Test  at Kingston Jamaica.  It was the first time that England have scored  500 in an home Ashes Test since 1985 at Headingley.

At the beginning of the day Stokes hammered Starc to the mid wicket boundary in the second over of the day.  In the next over Australia should have run out Stokes on 32 going for the second but Carey couldn’t gather the ball cleanly and knocked the bails off.

Stokes drove Starc to mid on and set off for a single but he hit too well to Cummins and  sent Harry  Brook back but Cummins' throw was wide with Brook not in the picture. Stokes reached his 30th Test 50 when he pushed Cummins through the covers for a single.  In Cummins’ next over Stokes tried to swing him to leg and was bowled.

Brook hadn’t hit a boundary in his first 51 balls then he hammered consecutive fours off Starc through the covers.  After a dot ball he guided the next ball to the third man boundary.

He went down the pitch to Green and lofted him over mid on for a one bounce four then he dabbed Cummins out on the offside for a quick single to bring up his sixth Test 50 from 80 balls.

The Aussies took the new ball after 90 overs with England’s lead on 154 with Starc but it was Hazlewood who  struck in  the second over.  Brook top edged a pull and found Starch on the fine leg boundary edge.

Hazlewood got his second wicket with the new ball in his next over when  Chris Woakes pushed forward and edged him to Carey to put Hazlewood on an hattrick.  Mark Wood survived the hattrick ball.  He became Hazlewood’s third victim of the morning on the stroke of lunch when he was beaten on the outside and had his off stump flatten.

After lunch rain stopped play for 12 minutes.  Hazlewood got his fifth wicket when Stuart Broad skied him and the ball went high in the air,  Hazlewood called for it and took the return  catch. It was his 10th five wicket haul in Test matches.

England thought Wood  had an early breakthrough when Usman Khawaja feathered him to Bairstow but Khawaja didn’t think that he had touched it and reviewed it.  Usman Khawaja looked bemused when the replay showed he had touched it.

Once again David Warner got a start but couldn’t capitalise on it as his  79 minute innings ended when Woakes got him  in two minds and he chopped on.

Marnus Labuschange nearly chopped on to Broad but he had the prescience of mind to knock the ball away.  In the next over England thought they had the prized wicket of Smith before he had scored. Steve Smith edged Woakes to Joe  Root at first slip but umpire Nitin  Menon was unsure and reviewed it.   Third umpire Kumar Dharmasena ruled the ball had touched the ground.

Labuschange left one from Wood that was a little too close for comfort as it missed the off bail.

Wood came back for his third spell and he got the wicket of Smith with his third ball.  Smith feathered a pull and Bairstow took a low catch to give his 100th Test wicket. He got his third wicket of the innings when he bounced Travis Head.  Bowling around the wicket the short ball took the shoulder of Head’s bat and Ben Ducket at gully took an easy steepling catch.  At the close of play Australia were 162 behind with six second innings wickets left.

Hazlewood said: “We are a long way behind but we hope that in the next two days we get some momentum back.  It was pretty clear how Bairstow was going to play with Anderson. We tried to keep Anderson on strike but I thought Bairstow was unlucky to be stuck on 99.

Our bowlers think that they can do a job if they are with a batter.  Rain may play a part and we are very pleased with the forecast but forecasts can change.”

After play had  started news came that former Australian wicket keeper and selector Henley Brian Tabernacle had died aged 83.

Day 4

ONLY 30 overs were possible on the fourth  day,but it was 30 more overs than many people expected after the forecasts earlier in the week, in that time Australia had added 101 reducing England’s lead to 61 but they lost Marnus Labuschagne

England’s batting coach Marcus Trescothick said: “We got one wicket which is good,    if we had got three or four that would have been great.  I am confident that if we get a decent amount of play that we’ll be in with a great chance.”

When Labuschange and Mitchell Marsh were together they made batting look easy as they  added 103 in 31 overs. Play on the fourth day got underway at 2.45 because heavy morning rain with 59 overs left in the day. Marsh clipped Chris Woakes over square leg which  just bounced a foot from the boundary.  He angled a cover drive off Stuart Broad and despite the morning rain it still raced to the boundary. Labuschange steered Mark Wood off his legs for a couple to bring up  his second 50 of the match and his 27th Test 50 from 99 balls with six fours. 

After 85 minutes of play with no wickets the ball was changed after 57 overs  then  the umpires decided it was too dark for Mark Wood to bowl at speed and was replaced by Moeen Ali at the James Anderson end and Joe Root came on at the Statham end.  

Trescothick added: “We didt think that the light had deteriorated that much to not allow us to bowl our seam bowlers but we are 60 yards away from the pitch.”

Labuschange said: “I wanted to look at the new ball and when I did I said that ball is going to swing which it did.  You have to be prepared for what is coming at you but it was harder.”

He  went down the pitch to Root and planted him over deep mid wicket for a six to take England’s lead to below 100.  He repeated the shot with the same result in Root’s next over to take him into the 90’s. He edged the next ball but Zak Crawley at slip had no chance of taking it.

He  pushed  Moeen Ali out into the covers for a single to bring up  his  first Test century in England, second century against England, and 11th in all. There were nine fours and two sixes in his  century from 161 balls.

Labuschange added: “I felt my form was coming together and it was great  to get a big score and I felt I was getting in good positions to sway or leave the ball.  Every time you score a century in a Test match it’s a privilege.  We came here prepared to take the game on for us now it’s about retaining the Ashes, whatever time is left in the game we are not going to give England a sniff.”

Root got rid of Labuschange when he cut Root and Jonny  Bairstow took the catch but umpire Nitin Menon was unmoved.  England reviewed it and the replay  showed that Labuschange had edged it. Labuschagne’s wicket nearly brought another when Marsh turned Root off his legs and despite getting his fingertips to it Harry Brook at short leg couldn’t hold on to it.

England thought they had Cameron Green caught  on the last ball before tea when he pushed forward at Moeen Ali and Root dove forward at slip and claimed a catch.  Umpire Joel Wilson didn’t move so England reviewed it.  TV umpire Kumar Dharmasena ruled Green hadn’t hit it and it wasn’t leg before either.

Day 5

ITS the Ashes, Australia  retained the Ashes at 5.24   thanks to the Manchester rain when umpires Nintin Menon and Joel  Wilson abandoned play for the day to a near deserted Emirates Old Trafford.

Overnight rain had washed out the morning session and play  was supposed to start at 1.00 but just after the announcement had been made that an early lunch would be  taken the rain back. It was the 25th day of Test cricket that has been washed out at Emirates Old Trafford.  The draw means still no team that has put the opposition in at Emirates Old Trafford has won the Test.

Australia captain Pat Cummins said: “As a group we are  proud of retaining the Ashes at the back of what has been not our greatest week, we know that we have a lot of work to do for the next match.  We weren't at our best in this match but I thought England played really well.  I didn’t bowl well,  I was not up to my usual standard at all. We want to win next week to win the Ashes outright.

In our first innings we left a few runs out there and we’ve got to look back and find out what we can do  differently. I thought Mark Wood bowled well but he bowled fantastically in Australia and we’ve got to come up with some options to play him. I thought that Mitchell Marsh and Marnus Labuschange played him really well yesterday.”

England captain Ben Stokes said: “It’s a tough way not to get the earn back but that’s Test cricket. All we can do now is draw the series and that’s what we’ll be trying to do next week but we have to get over this disappointment and 2-2 sounds better than 2-1.  It was bad watching the rain come down and I wished we could have shaken hands half an hour earlier.

I think winning the Ashes would have elevated Test cricket in this country but we have already done wonders for cricket in this country.  If we get a result next  week it will be a good week.

As captain of this group I am  very proud of them but unfortunately in the last couple of days we could only get two hours of play.  I have told them that we are a team that people will remember and talk about fir a long time. We did everything that we possibly could but the weather didn’t help us.  I thought that we dominated in the hours of play that we had and we were perfect in this match, we didn’t get anything wrong.

In the first two games they were better than us. Wood is a massive game changer who has the ability to bowl as fast as he does. To get rid of Steve Smith and Travis Head the way did was  huge for us. You can always throw the ball to him and he’s  great in the dressing room.”

The final Test starts on Thursday and England have to win that to prevent Australia from winning their first Ashes series in England since 2001.


July 19, 2023 9:23 am

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