134th over: Australia 416-8 (Starc 34, Lyon 16) Lyon smacks Broad down the ground for four, heaves him for two, then shovels him up, up and away for SIX. And that, my friends, is the declaration. Let the agony begin. Cummins rushes onto the field to warm up in the middle as England meander off. There will be about 20 minutes for Crawley and Hameed to endure.
“Regarding your earlier discussion about needed to be introduced to cricket early I actually started enjoying it an adulthood,” taps Jakob Mathiszig-Lee. “I remember being taken to a county game at Lord’s in primary school and was bored stiff and disregarded cricket as a game from then on.
“For whatever reason watched a bit of the 2019 ashes (at the age of 31) and suddenly found myself enjoying it, the 2020 visit from the West Indies cemented it and now love the longer form.
“As for the game, it’s over isn’t it? At least we made it last till day 2 this time.” Jakob, do you have doubts about the solidity of our top-order?
133rd over: Australia 403-8 (Starc 33, Lyon 4) Lyon, with ungainly bent-kneed stance, heaves Wood’s bouncer through midwicket for four.
132nd over: Australia 398-8 (Starc 32, Lyon 0) Broad holds up the ball between his fingers and gets a goodly amount of applause from the Sydney crowd. It is his eighth Ashes five-fer and the 19th of his career. Excellent work.
WICKET! Khawaja b Broad 137 (Australia 398-8)
At last! Broad picks up his five-fer with an inside edge onto the stumps, pretty much his first false shot I’ve seen on my shift ( though he was dropped earlier on 28). Khawaja pulls off his helmet and raises his bat, turning to face the stadium just before he crosses the rope. What a smashing innings – talk about taking your chance.
131st over: Australia 393-7 (Khawaja 133, Starc 31) Wood beats the outside edge, of course he does.
Love all these falling-for-cricket stories:
“Growing up in Ireland watching the West Indies terrify the English in the late 70s/early 80s was where my interest was sparked,” taps James Cahill. “Very useful as I later moved to Australia where I can still see this happening, just swap out Windies for Aussies.”
130th over: Australia 392-7 (Khawaja 133, Starc 30) Broad’s back, which should lead to events. But just a couple of singles from the over. There is a rattle and the dog briefly raises her head from the sofa as the paperboy pushes the paper through the letterbox. Not too long now till dawn.
“Thanks for your entertaining commentary.” Thank you Jean Turner Chapman! “I’m sitting at home, not feeling 100% with what may or may not be CoVid as we are still waiting for our PCR test results three days down the track. Looking forward to the Aussies squeezing in a session with the ball before stumps. And as for the cricket bug, I love listening to the radio (ABC) or reading the OBO, but watching the telly and listening to the blokey banter leaves me a bit cold. Though I do think Ricky Ponting is worth listening to and Skull is always good for a joke.”
Get well soon! Hope you get good news with a negative test.
129th over: Australia 390-7 (Khawaja 132, Starc 29) An almost-grimace passes over Wood’s bonny face as Starc has a swing and Bairstow on the boundary loses sight of the ball completely as it flies for four. A 91mph bouncer follows which Starc fends, safely, away.
128th over: Australia 384-7 (Khawaja 132, Starc 23) Anderson bowls the first ball after drinks as clouds start to build around the SCG, the flags jagging in the wind, the floodlights switching on. It’s a maiden from the penny-pincher and he and Broad chew the fat at the end of the over as Anderson puts his sunglasses upside down on the back of his cap.
“England have dealt reasonably well with the top order but the game is moving away from them again,” muses Matthew Petch. “Starc and Cummins can both bat and are dragging us inexorably to 400 with Khawaja. The advantage was with England 321-6 at tea.” Yes, the Australian tail is proving a great irritant for England.
127th over: Australia 384-7 (Khawaja 132, Starc 23) Mark Wood deserves more – first Starc fends a short one past Buttler for four, then Starc is given out caught behind, only to be over-turned on review because it hit the arm guard. And with that, they take DRINKS.
An email pings in from Karen O’Connell. “My mum, Rose O’Connell, a Canadian immigrant to Australia, and the least sporty person you’d meet, caught the cricket bug – and a crush on Shane Warne – in her 70s, after never watching a game in her life. Never too late to develop an obsession… or two!”
Brilliant! I took some friends to a World Cup match at Headingley in 1999 in an attempt to win them over to cricket. It completely failed except in one respect, they too developed Shane Warne obsessions.
126th over: Australia 380-7 (Khawaja 132, Starc 19) You feel for the bowlers, going through the motions now after a long day, just waiting for the declaration. Having typed the figures for a few overs with a tired brain, it is only striking me now how effortlessly Khawaja has moved towards 150. A military maiden from Anderson.
“Why can’t you provide a link to the score sheet, or at least show a photograph of the score board. It’s impossible to get a quick summary of what happened in the game so far. And it’s even worse in the regular articles.” There should be a link Gareth Thomas, at the top of the page under the score? It says View Full Scorecard,at least on my page?
125th over: Australia 380-7 (Khawaja 132, Starc 19) An admirable maiden from Wood, as we watch Cameron Green on the Australian balcony being schooled in the ways of the baggy green.
This sounds like the plot of an arthouse film.
124th over: Australia 380-7 (Khawaja 132, Starc 19) Khawaja’s drives are full dream boy. Here Anderson gets the treatment, as he kisses the ball away through the covers. Mark Butcher pays them due reverence: “Goweresque,” and they are.
123rd over: Australia 376-7 (Khawaja 129, Starc 18) Root sends down a stinker, which Khawaja treats with deserved disdain.
122nd over: Australia 369-7 (Khawaja 123, Starc 17) It’s Jimmy, to do things.Needle-point accuracy from the off. I probably should know this, but don’t – can anyone help? How did Khawaja get to inherit the magnificent No. 1 shirt?
Up on the wrought iron balcony, in the shade of the pavilion, one of the Australian bowlers is looking at cricket balls, trying them out for size.
121st over: Australia 367-7 (Khawaja 122, Starc 16) Root looks around his men, and turns to himself. Innocuous fare mostly, and Australia pick up four. Someone is playing Waltzing Mathilda on the trumpet.
“I’m a bit unsympathetic to the plight of English supporters back home having to endure the ignominy of all this,” harrumphs Chris Walsh. “You need to think of those of us resident here (Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in my case) who hear about it day in and day out in every interaction with a local.
“In any event, I have a plan. We bowl Australia out for around 400 which gives us 3 days to score 600 and bowl them out on the last day. Victory by an innings and a few. Couldn’t be simpler.”
But Chris, you have sunshine. That makes everything, everything more bearable.
120th over: Australia 363-7 (Khawaja 121 Starc 13) Starc throws the kitchen sink and the sticky rice pan at a wide one from Broad but only picks up two. Has he instructions? Does Cummins want the ball this evening? Broad goes off the field – for a rub-down? – to appreciative noises from the SCG crowd.
Looking for cricket fans in a desert? Jonathan Horowitz found his through, “Twitter and Discord! You know the one good thing social media is for, finding the weirdos like you.”
119th over: Australia 356-7 (Khawaja 117, Starc 10) A reverse-sweep, an edge, a drive – they all count as Australia ease towards 400.
118th over: Australia 348-7 (Khawaja 112, Starc 7) The ball after a beatified straight drive for four, Starcdoes well to survive a review off Broad’s bowling, a grenade that nips back and hits…something? Root gambles on a review and it turns out to have avoided the bat but hit the pad – but it is umpire’s call. Broad deserved that wicket for sheer force of effort and skill and good humour.
117th over: Australia 343-7 (Khawaja 112, Starc 2) There’s another one of Khawaja’s square drives, charmingly elegant, stopped from going to the rope by the fawn-like HH. Another wicketless over for poor Jack Leach. Someone lend him some of their luck, please.
“Greetings from Singapore!” Lovely to hear from you Kevin Tong. “Speaking of the cricket bug, I have to say it isn’t true that the golden years are in the pre-teens. I’m 23 this year and have only been following cricket for the last 3 years or so! I can’t be the only one who got absolutely hooked by the 2019 World Cup final and that astonishing super over. I remember I was in a hotel room in Thailand reading every over of the OBO while the rest of my mates were drinking. I’m sure I had more entertainment.” I’ll tell Rob Smyth and Tim de Lisle that, they’d be tickled!
116th over: Australia 338-7 (Khawaja 109, Starc o) Stuart Broad stretches out those long, long legs for another over of sweat and toil. Just a run and a leg bye from it. 29 overs left in the day
Hello Jonathan Horowitz! “To respond to Finbar earlier, I’m a Chicagoan with no cricket ancestry/experience and started getting into the game at age 27. I think the most exciting sporting event of this year so far was the Bangladesh victory over NZ and I’ve been watching the Ashes instead of American football. I’m also in contact with a bunch of other Americans about cricket, most of whom learned the game as adults. It’s never too late if you find the game interesting!” That’s great. Being nosy, but how did you guys find each other?
115th over: Australia 336-7 (Khawaja 108, Starc o) Khawja still making it effortless as he drives Leach through the off side.
114th over: Australia 331-7 (Khawaja 103, Starc o) Just reward for Broad, who had tried a couple of short ones earlier in the over.
WICKET! Cummins c Buttler b Broad 24 (Australia 331-7)
It’s that man Broad again! It goes to review but he gets one to rear up – nasty, nasty – and it seems to fly off Cummins glove as he protects his face. The onfield umpire says not out but England review and despite there being no hotspot, the third umpire goes with the balance of probability. A nice catch by Buttler, stretching above his head.
113th over: Australia 331-6 (Khawaja 103, Cummins 24) Leach, tis. Rattles through an over, they take two, thanks very much ma’am. Are there, incidentally, many simpler pleasures than a hot water bottle on a cold winter night?
“ Morning Tanya and a Happy New Year.” Hello Finbar Anslow. “I was wondering if there is a cut off age for loving/understanding cricket? I was fortunate enough to have been taken to the county ground in Taunton by my mother at 7 years old, but my older siblings were presumably all too immersed in the Pretty things and Herman’s Hermits to be interested. Could it be that if you haven’t caught the bug by your teens then it’s simply not going to happen? My wife, bless her, dutifully tries to make the right noises when I try to enlighten her – “Butler’s gone berserk” “Oh dear!” – We’ve even watched Lagaan twice, but yesterday’s comment was the cherry on the ageing Christmas cake; “He clean bowled him, shattering the stumps, but No Ball!” “Where was it?”
I think it is often a chore if you don’t get the bug young. Not just cricket, but especially cricket.
112th over: Australia 329-6 (Khawaja 102, Cummins 23) Cummins creams the first ball after tea through extra cover for four, Broad thinks he’s got his man second ball. He’s wrong. Cummins provides further irritation by dabbing him through the slips down to third for another four.
Review! Cummins lbw
Broad is sure, but Cummins reviews straight away…
Out the teams come for the last session, Khawaja and Bairstow share a joke. England need their bowlers to find a breakthrough rapidly or the next couple of days look very sticky.
TEA: Australia 321-6
Beautiful batting from Khawaja, whose wife/partner and young baby were delightedly watching from the stands. Time for coffee here, back shortly.
A hundred for Usman Khawaja!
111th over: Australia 321-6 (Khawaja 102, Cummins 15) It’s Leach to whom Root turns, to ruin the fairytale. Cummins finds a single and Khawaja has three balls to get a run. He squeezes the ball, through the gap at square leg, and that’s it! He leaps in the air, pulls off his helmet, marches on the spot like an ecstatic drummer, raises his bat and gets a hug from Cummins and rousing applause from his home crowd. His ninth Test century, and what a return to the Test side after two years out. The teams stroll off for tea, Khawaja leading the way up to the lovely green-roofed pavilion, slaps on the back every step of way.
110th over: Australia 314-6 (Khawaja 99, Cummins 11) Root turns to his joker, Dawid Malan, and Cummins slogs him for two fours back over his head before taking a single off the last ball of the over to steal the strike. Pat! The crowd boos their dear captain. One over till tea.
109th over: Australia 305-6 (Khawaja 99, Cummins 2) On the brink of tea, Khawaja cuts a juicy wide one from Root and is within just a sprint of three figures.
108th over: Australia 297-6 (Khawaja 93, Cummins 0) Khawaja pivots on his perfect axis and hooks Wood’s first ball for four, and he’s thrillingly coming out his shell as he approaches three figures. Interestingly, Geoff Lemon on the radio is talking about what a rotten time all spinners, not just English spinners, have had in Australia recently with only Ravichandran Ashwin breaking the mould. Anyway, Wood bounces Cummins who sways out of the way.
Worries for Travis Head, but I think Khawaja would be in the selectorial minds regardless because of his form in Asia and three tours of the sub-continent coming up.
107th over: Australia 292-6 (Khawaja 88, Cummins 0) Khawaja rocks out another of his wristy, glorious, off-side strokes but only picks up a single this time.