England v Australia - 2nd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four
England v Australia - 2nd Specsavers Ashes Test: Day Four

‘Game on!’ Cummins’ final flourish on day of drama

After such an extraordinary day of Test cricket, it's hard to know exactly where to start - but on Sunday 10 wickets fell, 266 runs were scored and the match is, somehow, incredibly evenly poised going into the final day despite losing nearly two days to rain.

But that tells a fraction of the story.

In between we saw Steve Smith and Jofra Archer engage in one of the all-time on-field battles - before Smith was retired by a sickening blow to the neck, and then later returned to score 92.

Later, Pat Cummins and Peter Siddle bagged two wickets apiece as Australia zeroed in on a final day miracle.

 

 

There's plenty to unpack, so have a look below at what you missed overnight.

 

SMITH V JOFRA BATTLE

There is no place to start other than this most dramatic of on-field duels. As Australia clawed their way back into the contest, England turned to their 24-year-old debutant.

Archer steaming in with 150km/h rockets trying to unsettle the world's premier red-ball batsman.

It was the most hostile spell of bowling seen in Test cricket since Mitchell Johnson's terrifying performances in the 2013/14 Ashes and there was simply no backward step to be taken by Smith, who was again mounting a rearguard action to rebuild the Australian innings with another stirring half-century.

 

SMITH COPS NASTY BLOW TO ARM

Everything changed when Smith was pinned by a lightning Archer bouncer which cannoned into Smith's left forearm.

The former skipper did his best to shake things off but the pain overcame him as he was seen to by team doctor Richard Saw, who applied a compression bandage and gave Smith painkillers after an initial assessment.

Smith winced in pain every time he picked up his bat, but with Australia still well short of England's first-innings total of 258, he battled on - albeit looking a shadow of his swashbuckling self.

Though worse was to come ..

 

AUSSIE STAR GOES DOWN

In a sickening sight for all cricket fans, Smith was then struck on the neck - just below the ear - as he attempted to duck out the way of an Archer bouncer when on 80.

The crowd held their collective breath as he lay prone on the ground for some time, before rising to his feet after another assessment with Dr Saw and then leaving the field retired hurt.

Then, extraordinarily, Smith returned to the crease 40 minutes later after passing his concussion tests to carry on and add a further 12 runs.

 

SMITH'S BAFFLING DISMISSAL

Steve Smith had been involved in all the drama of the day, and that continued with his dismissal - where he padded up to a Chris Woakes inswinger that thudded into his pads and was destined to hit middle stump.

It was the first error in judgment he'd made all series, but he didn't wait long for the second: remarkably, Smith reviewed it.

And then promptly spun on his heels and walked to the dressing room, effectively giving himself out though third umpire Joel Wilson wasn't far behind him in confirming the call.

 

Steve Smith was, remarkably, still booed by a minority of fans at Lord’s even after his bravery in returning to the crease following his sickening blow to the neck.
Steve Smith was, remarkably, still booed by a minority of fans at Lord’s even after his bravery in returning to the crease following his sickening blow to the neck.

 

'DISGUSTING' LORD'S BOO BOYS

Incredibly, he was booed by pockets of the Lord's crowd when he returned to take the field and again upon being dismissed for 92 - in keeping with the general crowd reaction Smith has received throughout the series.

But given the context of the day, with Smith having been felled several times during a hostile spell of bowling, it seemed unsavoury.

"Disgusting, I'd call that," Australian great Ian Healy said on Channel 9.

"Just not on, and Lord's won't be happy with that. Lord's is known for no yobbo element - and it's there."

 

UNLUCKY LYON

If he didn't shave his dome, Nathan Lyon would've been ripping his hair out after watching two chances go begging in the space of one over - twice getting Ben Stokes to nick off towards first slip.

The first split the keeper and David Warner, fielding at first slip with Smith off the field. But the second absolutely should've been taken. Warner dived to his left and got his hands to the ball, before it spilt out onto the grass.

Stokes finished the day unbeaten on 16 and shapes as a key figure on day five.

 

 

UNLUCKY LYON #2

Lyon bowled dangerously and was unlucky to not have a bagful of wickets - given he trapped both Rory Burns and Ben Stokes LBW, to appeals that were turned down and didn't prompt reviews despite replays indicating they would've been overturned.

Lyon couldn't tempt Tim Paine into a review when he had Burns trapped in front on 24 after Aleem Dar had turned the appeal down, though replays suggested it was in fact skidding on to his leg stump.

Stokes was on six when given his reprieve to one which straightened after pitching in line and sneaking through Stokes' defences - but Australia's appeal wasn't terribly forceful, and they opted against the reviews.

 

BRILLIANT CUMMINS

For a moment late in the day, Pat Cummins threatened to turn everything on its head with an incredible spell of his own.

 

Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates after dismissing Jason Roy caught and bowled.
Pat Cummins of Australia celebrates after dismissing Jason Roy caught and bowled.

 

Cummins landed devastating blows in consecutive balls with the twin strikes of Jason Roy and Joe Root.

While Roy looks a walking wicket, who this time fell to a short ball fended back for a good Cummins' return catch, the delivery to Root was special.

Root was forced to play at the ball, delivered on a perfect length and line shaping away from the right hander, which tickled through to Tim Paine.

 

PAINE'S PERSONAL MILESTONE

It will get lost in the drama of the day, but just quietly Tim Paine achieved something that only Adam Gilchrist has done as an Australian before him.

With his catch of Root, the skipper notched his 100th Test dismissal in his 23rd baggy green appearance.

Only Adam Gilchrist's 22 Tests was faster - with Gilly tied with South Africa's Quinton de Kock on that mark.

 

Tim Paine contributed in his understated way with both gloves and bat.
Tim Paine contributed in his understated way with both gloves and bat.

 

SPEAKING OF PAINE…

The skipper put together a crucial 23 in adding 60 runs for the sixth wicket with Steve Smith, taking the visitors to 6-162.

It was a meaningful innings that had the hallmarks of a gritty Paine knock.

Paine's been under pressure in some parts owing to the breakout World Cup from Alex Carey.

But beyond his calming influence as the team's on-field leader, there's still plenty to be said for his ability to knuckle down and grind out important runs.

 

SIDDLE MAKES HIS OWN LUCK

Peter Siddle had two catches dropped of his bowling in the first innings.

And he looked exasperated in the second when David Warner dropped a chance off Joe Denly - a low chance, with the England No. 4 on 7.

It's fair to say Siddle has been unlucky. So he made his own luck, snaring a fine reflex caught-and-bowled to see the back of Denly.

He backed that up with a beauty, dropping the ball back of a length and getting it to rear up and kiss the gloves of Rory Burns (29) on its way through to Paine.

News Corp Australia


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