England sensationally beat Australia by one wicket in an astonishing match thanks to a brilliant innings from Ben Stokes who produced a hero’s innings to win the match.
For the third test at Headingley, England were unchanged. Australia made three changes, one of them enforced, with Marnus Labuschagne replacing Steve Smith ruled out by concussion. Opener Marcus Harris and fast bowler James Pattinson were preferred to Cameron Bancroft and Peter Siddle.
Rain delayed the start of proceedings but, when play did get underway, England won the toss and opted to bowl first, striking early when Jofra Archer had Harris caught behind, before the rain returned again. When play resumed, Australia soon lost another wicket, Usman Khawaja caught behind off Stuart Broad. However, in between breaks for the weather, Australia re-grouped, with David Warner and Labuschagne adding 111 for the third wicket, until Archer had Warner caught behind for 61. In the next over, Broad bowled Travis Head with no addition to the score, and then Archer bowled Matthew Wade for a duck.
Labuschagne and Tim Paine added 27, but then Chris Woakes struck to have Paine lbw for 11. That dismissal promoted an Australian collapse. First Pattinson got an unplayable delivery from Archer and edged the ball to Joe Root at first slip. And then the fast bowler struck again, Pat Cummins edging him through to the wicketkeeper. Then Labuschagne, who had batted very well, missed a full toss from Ben Stokes and was lbw for 74. Five balls later, Archer wrapped up the innings when he had Nathan Lyon lbw, as Australia were bowled out for 179, having been 136 – 2 at one stage.
In only his second test match, Archer had taken 6 for 45.
England though made a dismal start to their innings on the second morning. First Jason Roy edged Josh Hazlewood to Warner at first slip and was caught for nine. Then Joe Root was out for a duck in identical fashion. Rory Burns lasted almost an hour at the crease, but he was caught behind off Cummins, and then Stokes became the third man caught at first slip by Warner, Pattinson this time the bowler.
The bad news did not stop there. Joe Denly, who had survived an lbw appeal before he had got off the mark then nicked Pattinson to Paine behind the stumps, as England collapsed to 45 – 5. Then Jonny Bairstow became the next man to perish, yet again falling to the Hazlewood, Warner at slip combination. The next man to go was Woakes, caught behind off Cummins, and he was followed by Jos Buttler who hit Hazelwood straight to Khawaja fielding at short extra cover. Archer was bounced out by Cummins, edging behind and jack Leach was last man out as England were bowled out for just 67 in under 28 overs.
Hazlewood finished with 5 for 30, Cummins 3 for 23, and Pattinson 2 for 9.
That gave Australia a first innings lead of 112, and they set about extending it, although they lost Warner early second time round lbw to Broad. Harris and Khawaja added 26 before the opener was bowled by Leach, and then Khawaja put on 16 with Labuschagne, until he edged Woakes to Roy at second slip and was out for 23.
Labuschagne and Head then consolidated Australia’s position with a stand of 45 before Stokes bowled Head for 25. However, as chances were dropped, the visitors began to stretch away and Labuschagne and Wade put on 66 before Stokes struck again, having Wade caught behind for 33. Paine then fell in the next over to Broad, although there was some doubts about the manner of his dismissal before he was given out caught by Denly at gully. Soon afterwards play ended for the day with Australia completely in charge at 171 - 6, a lead of 283 runs with 4 second innings wickers remaining. Labuschagne was unbeaten on 53.
On the third morning Labuschagne and Pattinson continued to accumulate runs, with the pair adding a further 44 to the overnight score until Pattinson edged a short ball from Archer to Root at slip and fell for 20. Three overs later, Cummins got another short delivery from Stokes, and fended it to Burns in the gully. Labuschagne had played a fine innings for his side but, having reached 80, he was run out by Denly, attempting a second run after a misfield, only to be beaten by a brilliant throw. Archer wrapped the Australian innings up when Nathan Lyon played on, but the visitors had reached 246 all out, meaning that England needed to score 359 runs if they wanted to keep alive their hopes of retaining the Ashes.
That looked a tall order, and became even more unlikely when both openers went cheaply within the space of four balls, Burns caught by Warner at first slip off Hazlewood, and then Roy bowled by Cummins. Root and Denly then played and missed but finally put together a partnership which was good for the morale of the home side at least. Together the pair put on 126 for the third wicket, showing the sort of character and resilience that had been missing in the first innings. Root reached his 50 first, followed by Denly, whose luck finally ran out when he was caught behind off Hazlewood for exactly 50. Ben Stokes came out and batted for nearly 50 minutes for his 2 not out, as England ensured that the match went into a fourth day at least.
At stumps they were 156 -3, still needing 203 runs to win the match, with Root unbeaten on 75.
England’s hopes of an unlikely win suffered an early blow on the 4th morning when Root danced down the pitch to Lyon on 77, got an edge, and was superbly caught by David Warner at first slip. The wicket took him above Dennis Lillee into third on the Australian all-time. Stokes and Bairstow though dug in, with every run greeted with rapturous applause, adding 86 for the fifth wicket, until England lost a flurry of wickets. First Bairstow played a loose shot to Hazlewood, and was caught at second slip by Labuschagne for 36. Jos Buttler was run going for a suicidal single, and then Woakes fell cheaply driving to Wade at extra cover, with Hazlewood again the bowler.
The Match Conclusion
Archer then came in to offer Stokes some support but, having struck 3 fours, he was caught on the boundary by Head off Lyon for 15. And when Broad was lbw to Pattinson for a duck two balls later, the match appeared done. That though was to reckon without Stokes who decided that he was at least prepared to fight until the end. He switched gear and went into full one-day attack mode, smashing the Australian bowlers to all parts. He reached his second test century in successive matches, his 8th in all, supported by the number 11, Leach, who did his job of staying at the crease.
Stokes rode his luck. He was dropped on 116, and then Lyon dropped the ball when a simple run out. With two runs to win Stokes was lbw but the umpire failed to give it, and Australia having burned all their reviews, there was nothing they could do about it. Leach who had lasted an hour, scored the one run to put Stokes back on strike, but then the all-rounder smashed the next ball from Cummins to four to win the match for his side, and level the series and keep the Ashes alive.