England beat Australia by three wickets at Headingley on fourth day of third Test to keep the Ashes alive
A spectacular partnership between Harry Brook and Chris Woakes, followed by a thrilling little cameo from Mark Wood helped England defeat Australia at Headingley on the fourth day to keep the Ashes alive. England appeared to be down and out when Mitchell Starc picked up the crucial wickets of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow after the lunch break as England still needed 80 runs at that stage.
However, Brook and Woakes turned the game on its head with an excellent 59-run partnership. While Starc did return to complete his five-fer and threaten England’s party, the hosts pulled through in thrilling fashion to win by three wickets.
England needed 224 runs when the fourth day began and Australia appeared to be on the defensive allowing easy singles to both Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett. But Starc gave Australia the early breakthrough as Duckett got trapped plumb in front. England’s ploy to send Moeen Ali at No.3 backfired as well as Starc got one to sneak through his defence and rattle the stumps. The two early wickets gave Australia a much-needed lift.
Runs then started flowing with Crawley regularly finding the boundaries to move into the 40s. However, Australia didn’t allow England to get away as Pat Cummins removed Joe Root with a delivery that was bowled down the leg side and Mitchell Marsh entered the attack to find the outside edge of Crawley. Brook took little time to get going as England eventually made over 100 runs in the morning session despite losing four wickets.
The eventful session threw the Test wide open but the presence of Stokes meant England still fancied themselves to get the remaining 98 runs. But Starc completely tilted the game in Australia’s favour with the wickets of Stokes and Bairstow. The England skipper feathered one behind to the keeper in tame fashion to a delivery that was bowled down the leg side and Bairstow inside-edged one onto his stumps while chasing a wide one.
With the Ashes on the line, England were so close to conceding the urn with 80 runs still needed and only the lower order left to bat alongside Brook. But Woakes was prepared to play his shots to eat into the target. He hit three fours in quick fashion to race to 14 off 18 balls and Brook at the other end got to his fifty off just 67 deliveries. Australia then adopted a short-ball ploy in order to try and break the partnership but both batters managed to counter it by placing the ball in empty spaces to pick up singles regularly.
Eventually, the target was brought below 50 which was always going to be a psychological lift for the chasing side. Brook kept growing in confidence and found the boundary regularly now to take England closer to victory before a last throw of the dice from Cummins reaped rewards. Starc returned with 24 runs still left for England to chase down and a short ball had Brook mistime a shot and get caught for 75 to give the bowler his fifth wicket.
Australia’s hopes of running through the tail suffered a massive setback with Wood coming out swinging like he did in the first innings. He took on a short ball from Cummins to send it over deep backward square leg for a six and was then egged on by the rapturous crowd. He smashed Starc through the covers to take England even closer before Woakes closed it out. The teams now have a nine-day break before the series resumes.
Brief scores: Australia 263 (Mitchell Marsh 118; Mark Wood 5/34) & 224 (Travis Head 77; Stuart Broad 3/45) lost to England 237 (Ben Stokes 80; Pat Cummins 6/91) & 254/7 (Harry Brook 75; Mitchell Starc 5/78) by 3 wickets