The Test match at Lord’s was set up for a thrilling outcome. Had inclement weather not interfered, it would have been another memorable finish – this time, in favour of England!
Australia – as usual – won the toss and elected to field first.
The pace sensation, Jofra Archer received his England Test cap from close friend Chris Jordan during a brief break in the otherwise appalling weather with the toss imminent, only for the covers to come back on and the showers to set in for good.
The umpires made the call to abandon play around 4.20 pm local time and the match will officially become a four-day fixture with the toss taking place on Thursday and overs added to the end of each day. The follow-on margin, if required, will be reduced to 150 accordingly.
On Day 2, when Josh Hazlewood claimed the wickets of Jason Roy for a duck and Joe Root for just 14, England were in trouble at 26 for 2 and Paine’s call – which Root said he would have echoed had he won the toss – seemed well justified.
Doubts crept in, however, as Burns and Denly dug in, the former backing up his first-innings 133 in Birmingham with a controlled 53 after he was dropped on 16 by Khawaja at gully off the bowling of Peter Siddle, and Denly making a marginal improvement on his earlier innings of 18 and 11 in this series when he reached 30 to leave the match looking fairly even at lunch.
It took a brilliant catch by Bancroft, diving to his left at short leg, off Pat Cummins to dismiss Burns after Hazlewood had Denly caught behind. The England pair were among four wickets to fall in the second session, as Australia’s bowlers combined well, Cummins banging the ball in short while Hazlewood and Siddle found some away swing from the Pavilion End.
Bairstow compiled his 52 off 95 deliveries, with seven fours, before he picked out Khawaja at deep square leg to hand Nathan Lyon his third wicket. Lyon’s three-for moved him to level with Dennis Lillee on 355 Test wickets, joint-third overall for Australia. Cummins and Hazlewood also ended the innings with three wickets each.
Australia battled during a tricky hour under lights at the end of a late-session elongated after the washed-out first day.
Broad claimed Warner’s wicket for the third time in as many innings, bowling him through the gate.
Archer could have had Warner out an over before with a 90-mph delivery that UltraEdge suggested shaved the bat, but with not so much as an appeal emanating from the bowler or the field, Warner survived.
On Day 3, Jofra Archer snared his maiden Test wicket as England overcame a sluggish start to put Australia in peril on another rain-interrupted day during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
In Australia’s favour, with two full days’ play expected over the weekend, first-Test saviour Steven Smith was at the crease alongside Matthew Wade, who added a century of his own to Smith’s twin tons at Edgbaston.
On Day 4, Australia’s fortunes in this second Test hung on Smith’s performance going into day four with his side desperately needing him to stand up again as they resumed at 80 for 4 in pursuit of England’s first-innings 258.
By the end of a day in which Jofra Archer unleashed hell in the form of searing pace and destructive force and Smith had barely withstood the barrage, felled by a nasty blow to the neck and struck hard on the forearm, England held a 104-run lead with six wickets in hand.
Steven Smith was ruled out of the Lord’s Ashes Test and became the first cricketer to be formally substituted out of a Test match with a concussion, replaced on the final day of the match by Marnus Labuschagne.
Labuschagne, the first concussion replacement in Test history under playing conditions introduced on August 1, withstood more Archer barrages to score a half-century which was pivotal in helping Australia avoid defeat after Archer and Jack Leach had run through the tourists’ top order. Labuschagne’s 59 was Australia’s top score for their second innings and came after he had been hit flush on the helmet grille by Archer on the first legal delivery he faced.
Archer picked up where he left off in Australia’s first innings, which fell just eight runs shy of England’s 258, unleashing serious heat on the visitors, who needed 267 runs to win after Man of the Match Ben Stokes’ impressive unbeaten century turned the hosts’ paltry lead into a healthy one.
David Warner’s lean Ashes continued when he prodded an Archer length ball to gully, where Rory Burns took a good, low catch. Out for 5, it was Warner’s fourth single-figure innings in the series so far.
Archer immediately set about peppering Usman Khawaja, greeting Australia’s No. 3 with three balls of 90mph or more. It wasn’t long at all before Khawaja was out edging Archer to Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps for 2 off just six deliveries. Cameron Bancroft put up some resistance with Labuschagne before Leach trapped him lbw with one that kept low and rapped him on the shin shortly after tea. That extended Bancroft’s run of poor returns this series to four innings also with scores of 8, 7, 13 and 16.
From there, Labuschagne and Head put on an 85-run stand for the fourth wicket, which became a sub-plot in itself.
Archer was like a wind on the final day and it could have been a different story if time was on his side.
Note: Input from ESPNcricinfo