Ashes 2019: Birmingham Test on a knife's edge as Australia fight back following England's rally

Rory Dollard 21:47 03/08/2019
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Australia's Steve Smith.

Steve Smith once again held Australia’s Ashes hopes on his shoulders as England’s bowlers fought in vain to dismiss their nemesis on the third evening of the opening Test.

The home side claimed a handy first-innings lead of 90, all out for 374 after Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes backed up Rory Burns’ maiden international hundred with vital tail-end runs.

They then prised out three wickets before Australia had cleared the deficit, Broad, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes dovetailing to see off the top order, leaving the fate of the game revolving around Smith.

He produced a sensational 144 to drag his side back from the brink on day one, his first Test knock since his year-long ban for ball-tampering, and when bad light intervened shortly after 6pm at Edgbaston he had effortlessly reeled off another unbeaten 46.

Australia will resume on 124-3, 34 in front, knowing their chances might well live and die with their former skipper.

England, meanwhile, are juggling a depleted attack. James Anderson was able to make a brief cameo with the bat but did not join his team-mates in the field, his right calf injury clearly serious enough to keep him out of the fray.

At one stage Jofra Archer appeared as a substitute fielder, his first appearance in the Test environment, and whatever transpires over the next 48 hours it seems increasingly certain the World Cup winning seamer will debut in Anderson’s place in the second Test at Lord’s.

Woakes and Broad ushered England to what could still be a priceless 90-run lead after a middle-order collapse on the third day of their Ashes opener against Australia. Burns added only eight runs to his overnight score before departing for a titanic 133, one of four wickets to fall on Saturday morning as the hosts slipped from 282-4 to 300-8.

England had nevertheless moved past Australia’s first-innings total, and a 65-run stand between Woakes and Broad swelled their score even further before they were all out for 374, when an early tea was taken.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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