Archer and Curran star as England gain upper hand in final Ashes Test
Jofra Archer and Sam Curran combined to hand England a vital first-innings lead in the final Ashes Test, raising hopes of a series-levelling win at The Oval.
Archer took six for 62 and Curran marked his first appearance of the series with three wickets, but the prize scalp of Steve Smith evaded both men – Chris Woakes trapping him lbw for 80 deep into the second evening.
Remarkably that was his lowest score of a prolific series and Australia duly subsided 69 behind on 225 all out.
Smith had taken his series tally to 751 in six knocks, and his sequence of 50-plus scores against England to 10 in a row, but this time he was unable to fully make up for the mediocrity of his colleagues.
Rory Burns and Joe Denly survived a tricky 20 minutes before stumps on nine without loss, but both had scares in Josh Hazlewood’s final over.
Denly, who became a father for the second time overnight, was badly dropped by Marcus Harris at slip and Burns was given lbw to the last ball, only for DRS to chalk it from the records.
The second six-for of Archer’s England career was the result of some hostile and highly effective pace bowling, regularly delivered at over 90mph, and took his series haul to 22 at an average of 17.27.
Curran, meanwhile, fully justified his recall for a first Ashes cap, calling to mind his man-of-the-series performances against India last summer and raising question marks over his recent absence.