Saturday 24 March 2018 / 11:45 AM

The Ashes: 3rd Test – Day 2 wrap

Australia stood on the brink of a crushing defeat at stumps on Day 2 of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston, leading by just 23 runs with only three wickets in hand thanks to a devastating bowling display by England’s comeback kid Steve Finn.

After eventually dismissing the hosts for 281 – giving England a first innings lead of 145 – Australia’s batting order folded for the second time in the match, left reeling at 7/168 at the end of the day’s play.

The early signs were for a storming fight-back from Australia after a disastrous first day. Mitchell Johnson removed Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes within three balls in the second over of the day, both caught behind, as he charged past the 300-wicket milestone in Tests.

Joe Root’s fine innings of 63 was ended by Mitchell Starc and Jos Buttler departed soon after, trapped lbw by Nathan Lyon, as England sat precariously placed at 7/190, but a wonderful eighth-wicket stand of 87 runs by Moeen Ali (59) and Stuart Broad (31) seized the advantage for the home side.

Josh Hazlewood eventually got rid of Broad and Ali in consecutive overs, before Starc finished of the innings by dismissing James Anderson for 3.

Broad struck early in Australia’s second dig, claiming in-form Chris Rogers lbw for 6. David Warner took to the England attack with ODI-like urgency, but Finn’s charmed return to the Test arena continued when he removed Steve Smith (8) and Michael Clarke (3) cheaply for the second time in the match, before sending Adam Voges on his way first ball. Australia was in deep trouble at 4/76.

Warner brought up his 50 in just 35 balls, but Mitch Marsh made only six before being bowled by Finn and Warner top-edged Anderson to be out for 77, and the overwhelming favourites were on the ropes at 6/111.

Peter Nevill dug in and finished the day unbeaten on 37, but Johnson became Finn’s fifth victim. Starc (7 not out) will resume with Nevill on Day 3 with Australia needing a minor miracle to stave off a convincing defeat.

Stud of the day

Finn’s first Test appearance in more than two years has been the stuff of cricketing fairytales. He has dismissed Smith and Clarke twice inside two days, while his 5/45 of Day 2 rammed home England’s massive advantage. He will charge in tomorrow with his best Test innings figures of 6/125 firmly in his sights.

Key moment

Australia hoped Johnson’s double-strike in the second over of the day was going to be the turning point, but again the key sequence was a devastating spell by Finn, taking out Clarke and Voges in consecutive deliveries soon after claiming the prized wicket of Smith.

Looking ahead

There’s no way around it – Nevill, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon simply need to eke out as many runs as possible to give themselves something to bowl at. It is a more than handy tail and if Australia can somehow push England’s fourth-innings target into triple figures, anything can happen on this tricky Edgbaston pitch.

Fun facts

  • Australia lost five wickets for under 100 runs in the same Ashes Test for the first time since the Headingley clash of 1972.
  • David Warner equalled the record for the fastest 50 in Ashes history held by countryman Graham Yallop.
  • Warner averages 21.3 against England in the first innings of Tests and 68.8 in the second.
  • Ben Stokes has five ducks and five 50s on his résumé from his last 10 Tests.
  • Mitchell Johnson has joined Shane Warne as the only Australians to score 2000 runs and take 300 wickets. 

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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