Stuart Broad still believes England can overcome Australia and the weather to win the second Ashes Test at Lord’s but accepts time is running out.
Just 24.1 overs were possible on Friday, meaning a total of five sessions have been lost to rain in the first three days, rendering a draw the likeliest result.
England had most reason to feel aggrieved by the early finish after picking up three wickets for 50 runs before the downpour began, one each for Broad and Chris Woakes and a first at Test level for debutant Jofra Archer.
Having lost the series opener at Edgbaston, the hosts will also be more eager to force matters when play resumes with Australia 178 runs behind on 80 for four.
And Broad has already started plotting how they might engineer a result.
“We’d have liked to continue because we put ourselves in a good position. It’s a real shame,” he said.
“But we feel pretty positive. We’d need to bowl Australia out by lunch tomorrow. Our bowling unit’s aim is to get the next six wickets by lunch and then ideally bat until an hour, or half-an-hour, before lunch on day five and try to force a result that way.
“This pitch has got 10 good balls in it in each day. There’s 98 overs for the next two days, which for both teams has been enough to bowl each other out.”
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, travelling with the team in a mentoring role, was also keeping hopes of a result alive.
“From our point of view we need to score some runs. We’re still 178 behind, so that’s our first target,” he said.
“If we can get there and get some more runs after that we believe we’ve a chance. Both sides will be confident that they can force a victory, but there is a lot of work to be done.”
Broad was impressed with his latest new ball partner, with Archer showing pace and control in a seven-over spell that cost just eight runs and brought the wicket of Cameron Bancroft, trapped lbw.
“He’s got all the attributes and he’s already been a successful international cricketer, having been involved in a World Cup win,” said the 122-Test veteran.
“In our minds, because he’s been involved with the World Cup and he’s been talked about so much in the last six months, we think he’s an experienced, older, knows-it-all cricketer.
“He’s still learning his trade a little bit, but he’s doing it with great success. There will be times when he blows teams away.”
With James Anderson out injured, Broad is the senior bowler in the side and he has performed his new-ball duties admirably by dismissing the dangerous David Warner cheaply three times in a row.
He has had no such luck with Steve Smith, though, and it is the latter who once again holds the key for Australia. After his match-winning twin centuries in the first Test he is ready to resume on 13 in the morning, knowing another epic could end England’s prospects.
Smith’s elaborate sequences of tics, routines and flourishes at the crease have become social media fodder over the past couple of weeks and Broad went as far as suggesting the batsman had begun to influence the on-field decision-making.
“He is quite fidgety. I think he might have even done (umpire) Aleem Dar on Travis Head’s lbw because he threw his arm out as if to say, ‘That’s going down leg side’,” offered Broad.
“I think Aleem was going to give it and maybe saw Steve’s hand go. He explains every bit of cricket on the field with his movements after it’s happened.”
Provided by Press Association Sports
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