England and Australia face a thrilling conclusion to the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston after Stuart Broad rocked the tourists with two huge wickets late on day four.
Broad stepped in deep in the evening session to sack Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith – the world’s top two test batters – leaving the tourists 107 for three in the hunt for 281.
Despite the threat of rain last morning, there should be plenty of time to avert a tie as England are chasing seven wickets and their rivals need 174 runs to cross the finish line.
Memories of the “biggest series” are great
The zeal with which this series was prepared has drawn comparisons to the unforgettable series 18 years ago when England reclaimed the ballot box after 18 years of waiting. Key to that result was an exciting two-run win here in Birmingham, where Steve Harmison edged Michael Kasprowicz just as Australia seemed to have won. The goal that day was 282, just one more than today’s magic number. Tourists fared a lot worse on this occasion, finishing at 175 for eight nights, but could it possibly come close again?
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Comedian and author Mark Steel attempts to paint a picture of “Bazball” for the uninitiated.
Joe Root’s fourth morning tap was an example of his willingness to adapt to a riskier and more rewarding style under the current regime. He surprised everyone in the stadium by trying to retrieve Pat Cummins’ slip from the first ball of the day. The shot didn’t come on that occasion, but in the next over he hit Scott Boland with the same shot for the sixth and fourth consecutive balls. Roots innings of 46 in 55 balls showed five boundaries and ended in unexpected ways…
In England’s second inning, Root charged Nathan Lyon and was at a loss for the first time in his career with 131 games and 240 innings. In the space of three months, Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey has now overtaken Root and Virat Kohli for the first time in their careers.
England target Boland
Scott Boland was a thorn in England’s side at the 2020/21 Ashes in Australia when he took six wickets for seven in a stunning debut at Melbourne Cricket Ground. He finished the streak with 18 wickets in three Tests and came to Edgbaston with an impeccable record. Its effectiveness is based on its meanness – with a savings rate of 2.31 prior to this week. England seemed to have made a point of throwing him off course, scoring 5.61 points against him over the course of the Test. It was significant that Australia wicket-keeper Alex Carey began standing up Boland against the Stumps to prevent the England batters from charging down the pitch.
Top five fourth-inning chases at Edgbaston
- 387/3 – England defeats India, 2022
- 283/5 – South Africa beat England, 2008
- 211/3 – England defeated New Zealand, 1999
- 157/3 – West Indies beat England, 1991
- 124/2 – England beat Australia, 2015
The last day of a Test often means throwing a spinner into play, but there are many concerns about Moeen Ali’s index finger – the finger he uses to spin the ball – which has fallen due to his increased workload in his first Red Ball appearance since September The 2021 blistering all-rounder was described as “good” by teammate Stuart Broad, but Moeen threw seven unremarkable overs on Monday. His effectiveness will be tested by his problematic finger and will put his involvement in the series into question. There is only eight days between the end of this test and the start of the next test at Lord’s. He is unlikely to play this game unless the injury improves.