More Headingley Heroics From Ben Stokes Keeps England's Hopes Alive

Stokes hit 80 before England took four quick wickets on day three
18:50, 07 Jul 2023

Inspired by a heroic Ben Stokes, England enjoyed a net positive day at Headingley, having taken four wickets before the close of play. Australia now lead by 155, but England will feel they can get them out and chase down the total they post over the weekend. 

In truth, England’s batting display left a lot to be desired on day three, as once again they relied on Stokes to drag them close to Australia’s total. They eventually finished 26 runs short, after a stonking 80 from the captain saw him hit six after six as he single handedly attempted to keep England in the Ashes. 

Despite clearly carrying an injury, he was the only batsman who stood up against this vicious Aussie attack, as Pat Cummins took six for 91 runs. Aside from opener Zak Crawley, Mark Wood was the only other player to score more than 20 runs for the home side, as Headingley witnessed another Stokes masterclass.Steve Smith took five catches in the field as Australia made England pay, but it could have been a whole lot worse, had Stokes not been dropped twice in consecutive balls. 

With the ball, England continued the momentum that Stokes had given them with the bat. Stuart Broad got David Warner for 1 - the 17th time as he edged to slip in the first few overs. Australia got to tea 29/1, and made steady progress after that until Bairstow couldn’t quite get hold of an edge at 67/1. 

It may have been Wood who caused all the problems in the first innings, but Moeen Ali struck twice to get rid of first Marnus Labuschagne and then Smith in the space of a couple of overs. Wood had put everything into his spell, so much so that he had to have a break, but as he battered the Aussies with pace, Moeen beat them with cunning. 

He tempted Labuschagne into a big sweep that was caught by Harry Brook, before he lured in Smith who inexplicably played it to Duckett. With that, Moeen brought up his 200th Test wicket, only behind Derek Underwood and Graeme Swann on the all-time list for spinners.

The Ashes odds with Betfred*

Usman Khawaja had batted superbly, with patience and guile, but on 43 he edged a Chris Woakes delivery to Bairstow and with that he was gone. It was a great afternoon of cricket for England, but it would have got even better had they been able to dismiss one of Mitchell Marsh or Travis Head. Marsh, of course, was the thorn in their side with his century on day one, and England will be desperate to get rid of him as soon as possible when play resumes tomorrow morning. 

With such a quick outfield, if Marsh gets settled again he could well be looking at another 100, and the 10/11 Betfred are offering on him to get over 41.5 runs looks like a smart pick. This Test match is in the balance, with England 11/10 to take the win, but they will have to get early wickets to put themselves in control. 

At one point, they were staring in the face of another loss, but now hopes are alive that they can finally get one over on the Aussies. Led by the remarkable Stokes, anything is possible.

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