Broad dismisses Labuschagne and Smith to set up thrilling final day in Ashes opener

Must read

BIRMINGHAM, England — Australia needs 174 more runs and England seven more wickets to win a gripping Ashes series opener that will be decided on the fifth and final day at Edgbaston.

Chasing 281 to win, Australia was 107-3 at stumps on the fourth day Monday, and both sides were feeling good about their chances of prevailing in what has been a tight test.

After Australia lost the wickets of David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith in a span of eight overs in the last session, Usman Khawaja stood firm again to be 34 not out with nightwatchman Scott Boland on a career-best 13 not out.

“Any day that you’ve got Smith, Marnus and Warner back in the hut, you’re happy,” seamer Stuart Broad told Sky Sports. He brought England back into the contest with two of the three wickets and fired up the raucous crowd.

When Australia started its second innings after tea, the crowd chanted, “Broady’s gonna get ya,” to bait Warner, who has fallen to Broad 15 times, including in the first innings.

But Warner held him off. He and Khawaja started smoothly by reaching 50-0 in the 15th over. The stand was broken on 61 when Ollie Robinson got Warner to edge behind for 36.

Broad didn’t get Warner, but he got bigger prizes, that of No. 1-ranked Labuschagne and No. 2 Smith. Both edged Broad behind into the gloves of Jonny Bairstow, Labuschagne for 13 and Steve Smith for 6.

However, Khawaja was looking as serene as he did during his 141 in the first innings. He and Boland, who hit Anderson and Broad for fours, safely steered Australia to stumps.

Broad had 2-28 and Labuschagne twice in the match.

“I just thought if I whack the pitch as hard as I can, get a bit of movement and create a bit of theater …,” Broad said. “That’s the thing with Ashes cricket; if you can get the crowd going and create that theater you can make it feel like something is happening even when it’s not.

“I wanted one more (wicket) tonight really because it was moving a nice amount. Those two (Khawaja and Boland) scrapped really well at the end.”

England was all out for 273 in its second innings right on a delayed tea. Joe Root and Harry Brook led with 46s and Ben Stokes with 43.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon took 4-80 and captain Pat Cummins finished with 4-63.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said, “This is England’s game to lose.” There have been only two higher successful run chases at Edgbaston, 283 by South Africa against England in 2008 and a ‘Bazball’ 378 against India last year. Australia chased 282 here in 2005 and famously lost by two runs.

Stokes’ Ashes gamble on bringing Moeen Ali out of test retirement might have backfired. Ali’s spinning finger blistered badly in the first innings while bowling a team-high 33 overs. He left for treatment after six overs on Monday but returned to bowl a maiden.

Root made England’s attacking intentions clear at the start of the day by audaciously – and unsuccessfully – trying to reverse-ramp Pat Cummins on the opening ball.

Root’s next attempt worked against Boland and the six was immediately followed by a four with the same stroke. Australia got fed up and put a fielder on the boundary.

The ambition of Root and Bairstow cost their wickets to Lyon. Root was stumped after charging the spinner and missing, and Bairstow was out for 20 to a poor reverse sweep.

Root was stumped for the first time in 130 tests, while the three stumpings by Alex Carey were the first in an Ashes test since 1968, and the first by an Australian since 1947.

While England hoped for a lead of at least 300, it earned an invaluable 49 runs from the tail, the 9-10-11 batters.

Robinson, dropped on 5 by Labuschagne, made 27, Broad an unbeaten 10, and James Anderson 11, his first double-figure score in more than two years. The crowd lapped up every run.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

More articles

Latest article