England find themselves in deep trouble at the start of day five of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford and might find themselves needing yet another inspirational performance from Ben Stokes in the middle-order.
Pat Cummins removed Rory Burns and Joe Root in consecutive deliveries in the first over late on day four to leave the hosts reeling at 18/2 in the second innings.
England need 365 more runs to win and take an improbable 2-1 lead in the series and have eight wickets in hand.
Joe Denly and Jason Roy are currently at the crease and will look to frustrate the Aussie bowlers who dominated this Test match. Their resistance to the visitors’ pace attack will be crucial, if England hope to get back into the game.
Will Cummins build on his sensational opening or will the hosts script yet another come-back?
For live ball-by-ball updates, follow the scorecard below:
England would have hoped that the Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s would prove to be a psychological blow for Steve Smith but the Australia batsman continues to make the 2019 Ashes his own with another splendid display with the bat on Saturday in Manchester.
The outstanding Aussie struck a 92-ball 82 in the second innings of the penultimate Test to put the visitors firmly in control of the Ashes with his match tally now standing at a staggering 293 runs.
England had made a roaring start with the ball in the second innings with four quick top-order wickets but there was once again no way past Smith’s bat with the Australia man batting with all the confidence in the world.
Here, we take a closer look at Smith’s second innings showing at Old Trafford which followed up the 211 he registered in the first innings.
SECOND INNINGS STATS
Deliveries faced: 92
As has been the case all series, Smith arrived at the crease much earlier than he would have wanted with both Australian openers falling cheaply once again. The subsequent dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne had reduced Australia to 44-4 but Smith once again proved to be a thorn in England’s flesh with his fifth 50-plus score of the series in as many innings.
The right-hander forged a vital 105-run stand for the fifth wicket alongside Matthew Wade where he was the dominant batsman by some distance. Smith ticked at nearly a run-a-ball and was looking good for his 26th Test ton before being caught on the boundary in his bid to loft a Jack Leach delivery for six.
And on he rolls... Steve Smith is the only player in the past 50 years to score 250 runs in an #Ashes Test in England. He's now done it three times.— Adam Burnett (@AdamBurnett09) September 7, 2019
Smith walked into bat when England had their tails up but he turned the tide instantly by taking the attack to the hosts. Having faced 319 deliveries for his double ton in the first-innings, Smith took no time to get settled at the crease and he was middling the ball from the very go on Saturday.
Recognising the need for Australia to score quick runs, Smith was at his free-flowing best at what was more of a one-day innings than a Test one. He was equally punishing against both pacers and spinners alike and showed particular disdain towards Archer by cracking some sumptuous boundaries on either side of the pitch.
Steve Smith's— CricBeat (@Cric_beat) September 7, 2019
Last 9 Innings In Ashes
239, 76, 102*, 83, 144, 142, 92, 211, 82
VERDICT – 9/10
Some Ashes the Australian batsman is having despite not having played any Test cricket for nearly 16 months prior to this trip. His tally in the current series has crept past 650 despite having to miss the Headingley Test and he continues to be England’s arch nemesis with his ninth consecutive score of above 76 against the opponents.
Such prolific numbers in Test cricket have not been seen since the time of Sir Don Bradman and the fact that this 82-run knock is his lowest in the series puts his incredible summer into context.
It has been the Ashes of Steve Smith by all definitions and it would actually be a tragedy if he does not walk away with the urn after this Herculean effort.
There have been a lot of superlatives for Steve Smith of late....add unselfish cricketer to that list 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 Could of easily have knocked it around to bring up yet another 💯 but the teams success more important #loveit— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) September 7, 2019
The Ashes urn was firmly in the sights of Australia after an eventful day four at Manchester in the penultimate Test against England.
Tim Paine and his men were eight wickets away from victory in the fourth Test after reducing England to 18-2 in the second innings with the hosts chasing 383, but more realistically, hoping to bat out a draw.
England were earlier bundled out for 301 runs in the first innings before another Steve Smith special helped Australia pile on 186-6 in the second innings at Old Trafford.
With the weather forecast for Sunday looking bright and clear, the hosts well and truly have their backs against the wall and will need another Headingley miracle if they are to keep the Ashes alive.
Here, we look at the talking points at the end of an eventful Day Four at Old Trafford.
Cummins, Starc clean up England tail
Having started the day at 200-5, England were able to add 101 run more to their total to just about avoid the follow-on. It took a cameo of 41 runs from Jos Buttler to help England avoid the follow on after a strong opening session dominated by Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.
Starc put England on the back foot by dismissing Jonny Bairstow and Headingley hero Ben Stokes in quick succession before Cummins ended Jofra Archer’s stay at the stroke of lunch. The two Australia pacers finished the job after the lunch interval with the dismissals of Stuart Broad and Buttler who was the last England batsman to fall after attempting a wild slog against Cummins.
Cummins’ three wickets in the innings saw the Aussie pacer further consolidate his grip as the leading wicket-taker in the series and it only got better for him late in the day in England’s second innings.
The 26-year-old found Rory Burns’ outside edge in just the third delivery of the innings before he cleaned up Joe Root’s off-stump with a peach of an in-swinger with the next ball to leave England reeling.
No dice for Warner as Broad piles on the misery
David Warner will perhaps be desperate to get on the first flight back to Sydney after his horror Ashes against Stuart Broad showed no signs of stopping.
The Australian opener bagged his third consecutive duck on the tour after being caught plumb on the pads just six deliveries into the second innings. It consigned the southpaw to his first-ever pair in Test cricket and he could only offer a resigned smile as he made the long walk back to the pavilion amidst a chorus of boos from the English supporters.
It just hasn’t worked out for Warner in the Ashes – despite his stellar 2019 World Cup campaign – with the opener now averaging (9.87) less than England No11 Jack Leach in the series.
He has now been dismissed six times in eight innings by Broad in the series and it will be a surprise if he is not dropped for the final Test at the Oval.
Smith’s freakish summer rolls on
Having conceded a 196-run first-innings lead to Australia, England made a roaring start to the ball Stuart Broad dismissing both openers in no time. The dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head soon after added to Australia’s woes as England sniffed a small opening to fight their way back into the game.
That joy was short-lived for the hosts with Steve Smith once again proving to be a brick wall. The Australia batsman followed up his double ton in the first-innings with a rapid knock of 82 that put the visitors firmly on top at Old Trafford.
His 105-run stand with Matthew Wade snuffed out any minor hopes England would have held and he has now extended his run tally to 671 for the series in just five innings. A fourth ton of the series was on the cards for Smith before he holed out in the deep, but his stellar counter-attack in the final session had firmly shut all door on England.
His average in the series is now a whopping 134.20 and he is already the leading Test run-scorer of 2019, despite other batsmen having a seven-month head-start on him.
Steve Smith now 671 runs at 134 this Ashes - and 2 of those 5 dismissals were setting up declarations. Still has 1 Test left.— Tim (@timwig) September 7, 2019
Without missing 3 innings with concussion, could even have topped Don Bradman's 974 runs at 139 in 1934.