Day two of the fifth Ashes Test: Archer and Curran hand England advantage
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.
Tweet of the day
Steve Smith’s 80 was, incredibly, his lowest score of the series so far. South West Hertfordshire MP David Gauke was among those to express surprise at his dismissal.
Stat of the day
David Warner’s struggles with the bat have been well documented. His record this series now reads: two, eight, three, five, 61, duck, duck, duck, five.
Bairstow makes Smith sweat
England’s attack once again struggled to remove Smith but the Australian was left sweating by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. With the ball being returned to Jofra Archer at the opposite end, Bairstow closed in on the stumps as if preparing for a run-out. Smith, unaware of the location of the ball, was fooled and needlessly dived for safety. There were some suggestions that Australia should have been awarded five penalty points for a fake fielding offence but Bairstow could argue he was covering the line of the throw.
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Curran offers different option
Sam Curran’s bowling offered England a different dimension on day two, prompting questions about why he was not used earlier in the series, including from former England captain Michael Vaughan. Curran demonstrated his Test credentials with 11 wickets and 272 runs during a man of the series performance against India on home soil last summer. The 21-year-old pressed his claim for future selection by dismissing Tim Paine and Pat Cummins with successive balls, posted figures of three for 46 and would have removed Smith but for a dropped catch from captain Joe Root.
Ducks flock to mock Warner
Australia opener Warner has endured a dreadful series and his difficulties continued. Overshadowed by the relentless brilliance of team-mate Smith, Warner had been out three successive ducks prior to the final Test. That prompted a handful of playful England fans to waddle up to The Oval in duck costumes with ‘Warner’ written on the back. The 32-year-old lasted slightly longer on this occasion but his dismissal for five, following an England appeal and a contentious spike on the UltraEdge, leaves him with a cumulative score of just 84 from his nine innings this series.
Memorable delivery for Denly
England batsman Joe Denly was absent for the entire morning session on Thursday after becoming a father for the second time. Denly’s wife, Stacy, gave birth to a girl on Thursday night, with the 33-year-old at her side. Jason Roy stepped in as substitute fielder before Denly returned to action just after 2pm, receiving congratulations from a number of team-mates as he entered the pitch with Australia on 77 for two. Denly then struggled with a delivery from Josh Hazlewood in the second innings and would have been out for a duck had Marcus Harris not dropped a simple catch.
Big boost for charity
Friday’s action resulted in a further £20,000 being raised for charity Chance to Shine. Musical lyricist Sir Tim Rice has pledged money to the good cause, which aims to give children the opportunity to play, learn and develop through cricket, based on milestones reached by England players at The Oval. The pot already contained £10,000 following the opening day, with Archer’s six wickets adding £15,000 and Curran’s three-wicket haul contributing £5,000.
Kevin Pietersen reminisced about England’s 2005 Ashes success and jokingly claimed he was still hungover. The successful team visited 10 Downing Street on this day 14 years ago, with former batsman Pietersen sharing a memorable picture of himself and Andrew Flintoff looking a little worse for wear.
September 14: England v Australia, day three of the fifth Ashes Test, The Oval.