Ashes 2019 – Third Test Days 2 and 3: Aussies fire ahead, but England give themselves a wild shot at it

After day one, I remarked that Australia had faced a situation similar to their demise at Trent Bridge in 2015. Strong enough to build a partnership and make a par total, they then flipped the script on the second day.


Hazlewood set the tone early, bowling an impeccable line and length repetitively. The commentators noted bowling at Headingley under cloud cover was completely different, but the well-built New South Welshman was making the Duke talk with no overhead assistance. He quickly strangled Roy and forced him into a rash drive, the edge flying to the hurtling body of Warner. Just two balls later Hazlewood had found the irresistible channel, coaxing Root into a shot that fell into Warner’s hands at first slip once more.


Following his compatriot’s red-hot start, Cummins brought aggression to the crease. He unleashed a fearsome spell, feeding off Hazlewood’s pressure to remove Burns off a nasty short ball. Australia have had many teams three down for not many in recent years before letting them get off the hook, such as against India in Adelaide this year or against England in the first Ashes test of 2015. Here, Pattinson’s arrival to the crease cut the trend short.


You could almost hear him snarl through the TV screen as he bolted in to the crease, bowling with disdain for the Poms who were so rude to deny him their wicket. When Patto is in a mood, you don’t want to get in his way. Denly and Stokes learnt this the difficult way, being drawn into his bravado and trying to drive their way out of the rut, only for their edges to fly to the fielders behind them. Stokes’ shot in particular was shocking, a sense of futile aggression headlining his wide push at the ball. At 5/45, suddenly Australia had all of the momentum. They could make their own Trent Bridge moment.


With Hazlewood claiming Bairstow before lunch, the Aussies came out smelling blood. Who would’ve thought, after all the hype around Archer’s day one demolition job of Australia, that the Aussies could claim a first innings lead of over 100? This unlikely scenario was soon realised when Woakes fell down the leg side and Buttler spooned a drive straight to Khawaja at short cover. Despite some attempted heroics from Archer, the end was near and Hazlewood claimed Leach to complete his five-wicket haul and bowl the Poms out for 67. Just when England felt they had all but levelled the series, they were demolished when it mattered most.


Australia still had to bat on this dodgy Headingley pitch too. Warner wasn’t so lucky second time around, while Harris started strongly before falling way too easily to Leach. Khawaja, Head and Wade all dug in and got starts, but never looked assured at the crease. The only constant was Labuschagne – is there a charm on the number four spot? Once more he couldn’t be rattled, and the little Queenslander just stayed there, churning out runs and holding his nation together.


Coming into day three, the Aussies had to ensure they didn’t fall into the English trap of overconfidence. This game was far from over, and Labuschagne realised this when he kept ticking over the scoreboard. Pattinson made another handy contribution, but his other bowlers were mere fodder for the English pace bowlers. Labuschagne was eventually run out for 80, falling short of a maiden test century that he deserves. He’ll definitely have other chances to do so this series if he continues his form. His heroics pushed Australia to a massive lead, requiring England to score over 350 to win.


The pitch had changed, settled a little. The bounce wasn’t as steep, the swing not as profound. But the pitch hadn’t deteriorated into a spin-friendly deck. It was flat enough for good batting, and after another shaky start, Root and Denly held firm.


Hazlewood used the angles beautifully to Burns, once more bringing Warner into the game. Cummins then sent Roy packing, perhaps for the final time this series. But the next wicket didn’t come for another 100 runs, as Root wasn’t undone early and then looked a class above. Denly was an able partner, making runs when he needed to. All looked rosy for England – the crowd was roaring, the runs were coming steadily and the previous day’s demise suddenly looked not so bad.


But Australia didn’t stop until the day’s end, and got the wicket of Denly as a reward. Stokes came in looking to rectify his first innings effort, defending for the final overs. This game isn’t over, and depending on the weather, all results are possible. The only thing to expect? Nothing is impossible in this match.


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE



  1. Daryl Schramm says

    At lunch on day 4 Sunday I wonder what the odds are for a tie. A good summary Sean. England hav e now seized the initiative.

Leave a Comment