Ashes 2021-22: England hold out for fourth Test draw with Australia – as it happened

By Tim de Lisle and Sam Perry
Australia captain Pat Cummins shakes the hand of Ben Stokes following the conclusion of the fourth Test.
Australia captain Pat Cummins shakes the hand of Ben Stokes at the end of the fourth Test. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Read the match report

Australia, it has to be said, were much the better team. They had the man of the match in Khawaja, and the over of the match in that corker from Cummins, which contained two Waqar Younis inswingers and proved too hot for Buttler and Wood to handle. And yet it is England who will feel the happier in Sydney tonight.

They have made the great escape, against heavy odds. They have three batters back in form, in Stokes, Bairstow and Crawley. They have Broad taking five-fors again, and even remembering how to bat. But, most importantly, they’ve regained their self-respect. They’ve given Martin Johnson’s famous line a tweak: can’t field, can bat and bowl a bit, can fight. After a mostly dismal 2021, they are unbeaten in 2022. Thanks for your company and your correspondence, and sorry not to get through it all.

Do join us on Thursday for the final Test from Hobart, at the slightly more godly hour of 4am GMT. It’ll be worth setting the alarm just to see who is on England’s team sheet.

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“Test cricket ...” says my colleague Ali Martin on Twitter, “where bad light can see a batsman trying to bowl his team to victory against two bowlers trying to bat their team to a draw. Beautiful.”

“Goodness me!” says Diana Luther Powell. “That was worth a cold, grey early Sunday morning in Yorkshire!!!”

And also worth four exclamation marks? Absolutely.

And here’s Pat Cummins. “I think it was just a great game of Test cricket,” he says, sportingly. “The weather forecasts are hopeless, I learnt that this week.”

“Jos Buttler is going home,” Root says. “Real shame for him and the team. The way he stood up is testament to his character.”

“Jonny [Bairstow] played some of the best cricket I think I’ve seen him play in an England shirt,” Root adds. “Zak Crawley played very fluently, looked very comfortable out there today.”

Joe Root is talking to Adam Gilchrist, who says it’s good not to be commiserating with him for once. “The guys showed a great amount of heart and character,” Root says. “It’s been a difficult tour to now, but one thing I’m really proud of is the determination, the character, the way we stood up today and got a result out of this game.”

“Dame Nelly Melba, Ned Kelly, Russell Crowe, Kylie and Errol Flynn, your boys took one helluva of a drawing.” Thank you, Chris Purcell.

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England finish on 270-9, with Broad 8 not out off 36 balls – superb stuff – and Anderson 0 not out off six. The players of both sides shake hands, bump fists and exchange knowing smiles. Jonny Bairstow, in a blue singlet, runs out to grab a stump. He and Broad were England’s stars here, but the Player of the Match was undoubtedly Usman Khawaja, who was robbed of the victory his twin hundreds richly deserved.

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Match drawn! Anderson survives

One last prod, and England have secured the draw and avoided humiliation. It will feel like a win.

One ball to go

Anderson blocks the fourth , the fifth...

Mid-102nd over: England 270-9 (Broad 8, Anderson 0) Anderson blocks one ball, and another, and a third. Three balls left.

101st over: England 270-9 (Broad 8, Anderson 0) It’s Lyon to bowl his last over, and Broad to face. He pokes and prods. Dot, dot, dot, dot, dot. Broad does some gardening. And one more prod! Broad survives, so we are down to the last over. Test cricket, proper Test cricket.

100th over: England 270-9 (Broad 8, Anderson 0) So Steve Smith, who was originally picked as a bowling all-rounder, remembers how to bowl at the crucial moment.The whole over was good, with no full-tosses in sight. Two overs left. Broad and Anderson!

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WICKET!! Leach c Warner b Smith 26 (England 270-9)

The breakthrough! Supplied by Steve Smith, with his occasional leg-breaks. It’s a good one, and Leach can only nick it to slip. The win is on!

99th over: England 268-8 (Leach 24, Broad 8) Lyon continues and Cummins is now at short point, wearing a helmet. What an interesting captain he is turning out to be. Somehow, again, Broad survives. The tension is delicious. And the umpires are discussing the light! They seem to be saying that the quicks can’t bowl any more. Three overs to go – two of them to be bowled by either Smith or Labuschagne.

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98th over: England 268-8 (Leach 24, Broad 8) After flicking that yorker from Starc a while ago, Leach now does the same to Cummins. He gets three and reaches 20. Broad, living more dangerously, somehow keeps a couple of straight balls out. Leach off-drives for four, handsomely. Four overs to go. Australia’s chances of a win is down to 27pc on CricViz, and down to about 67 in my book.

97th over: England 260-8 (Leach 17, Broad 7) It’s Lyon to Leach. Is there a spinners’ union? You wouldn’t think so from Lyon’s field, which consists of four close catchers on the off side, and four on the leg. There’s also a whole lotta sledging going on.

Leach, unperturbed, pushes for three and leaves Broad with one ball to see off, which he manages. Five overs to go.

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Nathan Lyon is coming on. He has four wickets in the match, all left-handers. England have three batters left, all left-handers.

96th over: England 257-8 (Leach 14, Broad 7) Cummins, proactive as ever with the bowling changes, replaces Boland with himself. He peppers Broad and fells him – not by hitting him, but by bowling a sharp bouncer that Broad actually plays well, swaying so sharply that he falls over in the process. Six overs left.

“As in the first innings,” says Brian Withington, “I am increasingly baffled by the run taking options during a Stuart Broad partnership. Previously he was farming the strike at Bairstow’s expense. Now he’s protecting Jack Leach and the trusty Millichamp & Hall deadbat. What gives?” Who knows?

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95th over: England 257-8 (Leach 14, Broad 7) Green gives way to Starc. Leach ducks a bumper and then gets behind the line to block a length ball. He takes the single on offer, showing more faith in Broad than some would. Starc goes round the wicket and dishes up a full-toss, which Broad jabs to third man. A yorker to Leach brings a classy flick for four that carries a subtext. “Dear Jos and Woody, that’s how you deal with them. Love, Leachy.”

And here’s Kim Thonger. “I wonder if it’s time for England to accept that Australia is no longer the right type of opposing team,” he muses. “Perhaps a future winter tour to Kazakhstan is more appropriate? I hear the batting and bowling units there are less highly regarded, and helpful bad weather interruptions more frequent, although we should of course take nothing for granted under the current management.”

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94th over: England 249-8 (Leach 7, Broad 6) Broad is coping better than some of his more illustrious mates with Boland’s stock-in-trade, the length ball lasering in on the off bail. So Boland tries a bouncer, which is the right ploy to Broad - but he copes with this to, swaying out of the line like the useful No.8 he once was. Eight overs to go.

93rd over: England 247-8 (Leach 7, Broad 4) All three of the remaining batters are left-handers, just to make life even easier for the Aussies. CricViz are giving them a 60pc chance; I make it about 99. But England get through this over from Starc, and take six runs off it as the wide open spaces beckon to them on both sides of the wicket. Nine overs to go.

92nd over: England 241-8 (Leach 4, Broad 1) So England are relying on Leach and the old firm, Broad and Anderson, whose batting has long since been pretty abysmal. The field, at last, is full-on predatory – four slips, a gully and three short legs. Broad nudges a single to join Leach on his signature score, but then Leach goes and spoils it by taking three.

Ten overs left. Is it cowardly to pray for rain?

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Wicket!! Bairstow c Labuschagne b Boland 41 (England 237-8)

The coup de grace! It’s Bairstow, it’s Boland, but it’s also Cummins, who posts a silly point and sees the ball pop up off bat and pad. That, surely, is curtains for England.

91st over: England 237-7 (Bairstow 41, Leach 1) Cummins takes himself off and sends for Cameron Green, who’s been so effective as a bowling all-rounder in this series – the rich man’s Craig White. Bairstow is watchful at first, then hooks him for four and swats to mid-on to get the single he wants. Leach, with one ball to negotiate, leaves it on length. He has survived six overs. Can he manage 11 more?

90th over: England 232-7 (Bairstow 36, Leach 1) Leach plays and misses at Boland, whereupon Marnus Labuschagne gets over-excited and says “There was a noise, there was a noise.” Cummins reviews, wrongly this time, and Australia are down to their last one. Remind you of anything?

Meanwhile an email comes in from Colum Fordham. “CricViz prediction of moral victory 5%,” he says. “If Bairstow and Leach survive this onslaught and hold on for a draw, it would do so much for morale in the England camp. And amongst desperate England fans. The strength in depth of the Australia team is bewlidering. Plucking Boland from Sheffield Shield obscurity and recalling as fine a batsman as Khawaja are beyond belief. Still, Crawley’s performance and Bairstow’s renaissance offer a few crumbs of comfort.” They do – plus, for the first time, we have some fifth-day tension. Riches!

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89th over: England 232-7 (Bairstow 36, Leach 1) Cummins tries some short stuff to Bairstow, which is surprising when the yorkers were going so well. One bouncer is a no-ball, and another is upper-cut for four, but it stops Bairstow nicking the strike, which may have been the point. There are 13 overs to go.

88th over: England 227-7 (Bairstow 32, Leach 1) Boland’s first ball brings a scare as Bairstow seems to give a chance to leg slip, where Starc can’t hold on. Replays suggest it was off the thigh pad anyway. Bairstow keeps calm and carries on, guiding the next ball into the covers for two, then pushing for a single when he could have had three. Leach, left with just the one delivery to face, plays and misses as Boland swings it back in from outside off.

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Well this is just what England need. Scott Boland!

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87th over: England 224-7 (Bairstow 29, Leach 1) Cummins has a whole over at Leach, but can’t make use of it as his first ball is pushed firmly for a single. Jack Leach has the score for which he is famous. Mind you, Cummins, in this form, could trouble any batter in the world. He comes close to getting Bairstow caught at leg slip with a vicious snorter, but it flies to the boundary and is given as four leg byes. And that’s drinks, with the Aussies right back on top, thanks to one fabulous over from their captain. Not sure who’s trotting out with drinks for the batters, but I hope he’s offering them a flask of brandy.

86th over: England 218-7 (Bairstow 28, Leach 0) England’s faint hopes now rest on the shoulders of Bairstow, without whom they would not have made it to this final session. Facing Starc, he edges to second slip and is dropped by Steve Smith. It was low and not easy, but not that hard either. I’d like to think that Bairstow murmurs, “Mate, you just dropped the whitewash.”

85th over: England 218-7 (Bairstow 28, Leach 0) That was a great, great over from Cummins, leading from the front. Australia’s chance of a win on CricViz, which was down to 7 per cent, has leapt to 24. On TimViz, it’s more like 94.

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Wicket!! Wood LBW b Cummins 0 (England 218-7)

Another one! Another Waqar special! It’s the toe-crusher, and it would be hitting leg stump. Paul Reiffel gives it, Wood reviews but to no avail, and Australia are on the march.

Wicket! Buttler LBW b Cummins 11 (England 218-6)

Noooo!! Cummins produces a Waqar Younis inswinger, jagging back late and thudding into the back pad. And he gets the review spot-on too. Off goes Buttler, who had looked good, and with him go at least half of England’s hopes of a draw.

84th over: England 218-5 (Bairstow 28, Buttler 11) A less eventful over from Starc, who joins the dots until Bairstow glances for a couple. So Australia still need five wickets, and England have 18 overs to get through.

“Hello Tim.” Hello Alisdair Gould. “This is like watching a game of Jenga. Thanks for all.” It’s a pleasure, and that’s a great way of putting it.

83rd over: England 216-5 (Bairstow 26, Buttler 11) Cummins bowls a lifter outside off stump and Buttler is equal to it, pulling out of his back-foot defensive shot at the last moment. Marnus Labuschagne appeals for caught behind when the bat wasn’t even close to the ball. “He’s been on the Smarties again,” says Mark Butcher.

82nd over: England 215-5 (Bairstow 25, Buttler 11) Smith gives way to Starc, who finds some swing back into the right-hander and strikes Buttler twice. The first blow is painful, possibly into the box, but too high to be perilous. The second is on the pad and Cummins reviews, but it’s a Tim Paine of a decision – clearly going down.

We’re down to the last 20 overs. It’s not quite a nail-biter yet, but it will be the minute the next wicket falls.

81st over: England 215-5 (Bairstow 25, Buttler 11) Back comes Cummins, with three slips, a gully and a short leg, when Steve Waugh would have had at least five slips. The new ball usually makes things happen, and so it proves. Buttler takes a single off the hip, Bairstow cuts handsomely for four, Bairstow glides for a single, Cummins bowls a no-ball, Buttler jabs the bat down on a low one, and finally Buttler gets a nick that doesn’t carry. It’s a little bit of everything, to quote the great song by Dawes.

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80th over: England 207-5 (Bairstow 20, Buttler 9) I take it back about Smith: in his second and surely final over, he dishes up two full-tosses and a long hop. Buttler helps himself to a clip for two and a glance for three, and Bairstow cuts for two. And that’s the end of that chapter of the game, as Australia are about to take the new ball.

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79th over: England 200-5 (Bairstow 18, Buttler 4) Lyon to Bairstow, who plays out a maiden.

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78th over: England 200-5 (Bairstow 18, Buttler 4) Cummins takes Starc off, which may be a sign that he will take the new ball in a few minutes. Sticking to his policy of being funky with the bowling changes, he sends for Steve Smith – once a proper leg-spinner, now an occasional one. On the evidence of this first over, he may still be better than Labuschagne, because he’s more accurate. Bairstow drives him square for a single to bring up the 200.

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77th over: England 199-5 (Bairstow 17, Buttler 4) Lyon, sniffing more blood, has four men round the bat for Buttler. He gets some lavish turn out of Starc’s footmarks and appeals for leg-before as Buttler plays no stroke, but it’s too high. The bounce, which so often gets Lyon a wicket, can work against him too.

76th over: England 199-5 (Bairstow 17, Buttler 4) Buttler is on a pair, out of form and nursing an injured finger, but apart from that he’s absolutely fine. He gets off the mark with no fuss, easing Starc through the covers for three. Australia need five wickets; England need to survive for 26 overs.

75th over: England 193-5 (Bairstow 15, Buttler 0) The ball before that, Stokes had gone down the track and lofted Lyon for four. Now he’s kicking himself in the dressing-room, and instead of him and Bairstow, a natural and prolific pairing, England’s hopes are resting on Bairstow and Buttler, who hardly ever seem to make runs together.

WICKET! Stokes c Smith b Lyon 60 (England 193-5)

That’s the big one! Lyon finds some turn outside off and Stokes goes back and dabs to slip, as giving catching practice. He departs swearing profusely, knowing he may well have allowed the floodgates to open. But what a fine innings that is from a wounded warrior.

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74th over: England 189-4 (Stokes 56, Bairstow 15) It’s a double change as the mighty Boland gives way to Starc. Can he find some reverse swing? He can – he produces an inswinging yorker, which Stokes might not clip for a single if his eye wasn’t in. Reverse swing is a killer for a new batter, so the question is whether Australia can separate this pair, who have now been out there for 16 overs on top of the 29 they saw off in the first innings.

“Thank you for the clear explanation,” says Jane Evans, “and so glad Boland and his heavy balls are back on deck!” Ha. There’s a reason why that expression tends to be used in the singular.

73rd over: England 187-4 (Stokes 55, Bairstow 14) Cummins, who certainly doesn’t over bowl himself, takes his sweater and brings back Lyon. His over brings a single to each batter and no dramas. The Barmy Army celebrate by singing God Save the Queen.

On Twitter there’s a typically good spot from Andy Zaltzman. “Khawaja two hundreds at five; Stokes two fifties at five,” he notes. “This is only the second Test [ever] played in which the number 5 reached fifty in all four innings. The other was the Durban timeless Test in 1938-39, when Nourse & Viljoen for SA, and Ames & Paynter for Eng, all made 50s at 5.”

72nd over: England 185-4 (Stokes 54, Bairstow 13) Boland gets some swing with his nip-backer and appeals for LBW against Bairstow, but it’s too high and Cummins rightly declines to review. Next ball, Bairstow has a wild waft outside off and could easily get a nick. Fine margins, as always in this fiddly old game.

71st over: England 185-4 (Stokes 54, Bairstow 13) Cummins has been uncharacteristically expensive in this innings and now Stokes swings him for four, almost for six. But Cummins may not mind too much as the ball went not too far from the man at fine leg. A telling caption shows that Stokes’s batting average against Australia, 36 overall, is a tale of two mindsets – a frustrating 27 in the first innings, a formidable 50 in the second.

70th over: England 181-4 (Stokes 50, Bairstow 13) I don’t believe it: Boland has conceded two! Off one ball. Bairstow nudges to the keeper’s left and races back for the second, more judiciously than he did when he first emerged.

So England have made it through 70 overs, with a minimum of 32 to go if the rain doesn’t return. On CricViz’s predictor, the draw has soared to 85 per cent. Hmmm.

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Fifty to Stokes!

69th over: England 179-4 (Stokes 50, Bairstow 11) Cummins takes Lyon off and gives himself a go. Butcher reckons that’s wrong for two reasons – Lyon has got Stokes out eight times, and he can whizz through his overs, which will hasten the second new ball. Against that, it’s the quicks who can best exploit the uneven bounce. After Bairstow glances to fine leg for a single, Stokes takes a blow on the glove. Being Stokes, he shrugs it off and punches to midwicket to reach his second fifty of the match. What a fighter he is.

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68th over: England 174-4 (Stokes 46, Bairstow 10) Boland is bowling to Stokes, round the wicket. Showing no sign of discomfort, he’s as steady as ever if a little wider of off stump. He clocks up his umpteenth maiden and the only alarm comes when one ball keeps low. “Boland,” says Mark Butcher, “has been extraordinary.”

Boland bowling bowling

Scott Boland is back and seems to be about to bowl. His figures in this series, and his Test career, are ridiculous. He has 13 for 110 off 48.1 overs at an average of 8.46. The last time I reported anything like that was when I was 11, as the scorer for my school team. And many of those wickets have been big ones. According to Will Macpherson on Twitter, Boland has now dismissed Joe Root three times since the last time he allowed him to score a run. I hope someone somewhere is writing a children’s book about him.

Teatime! England still four down

67th over: England 174-4 (Stokes 46, Bairstow 10) It’s Lyon to bowl the last over before tea and Bairstow sees him off, so that’s tea. England have done all right since lunch and the rain, losing only Root, to the remorseless Boland – but Australia may have lost him to injury. England have another 35 overs to get through, so they are two-thirds of the way to the draw. But both batters out there are carrying injuries, and so is Jos Buttler, and after him comes the tail. Speaking as a Pom, and therefore a pessimist, I’d still put my money on Australia as long as the skies stay dry.

“Ignorant question perhaps,” says Jane Evans, “but are you able to briefly explain what bowling a ‘heavy’ ball means?” No such thing as an ignorant question! I should have been clearer. It’s an old-school term that tries to express what it feels like when a bowler keeps jarring the bat, threatening the gloves, getting the ball onto you a touch earlier than you expect it. It’s no fun to face.

66th over: England 174-4 (Stokes 46, Bairstow 10) Another friendly over from Labuschagne, which allows Bairstow to slip into double figures.

65th over: England 171-4 (Stokes 45, Bairstow 8) Ah – Lyon was just changing ends. Bowling to Bairstow, he steps up his pace, perhaps fancying an LBW. Bairstow is vigilant, playing out five dots before pushing into the on side for a single.

64th over: England 170-4 (Stokes 45, Bairstow 7) As a captain, Pat Cummins has an intriguing approach: let me bore you rigid with my field settings, but entertain you with my bowling changes. Now, just as it looks as if he’s a bowler down, he replaces Lyon with Marnus Labuschagne’s occasional leg-breaks. There’s a rank full toss, which Stokes wallops for four.

63rd over: England 164-4 (Stokes 40, Bairstow 6) if you’ve just come in and you’re up against Boland, your best hope is to play with soft hands and hope the edge doesn’t carry to slip. That’s what Bairstow does now, and he gets two as the ball bobbles away to third man and Warner makes a fine diving save.

On Twitter, there’s a good question from someone called Part Time PM. “Could Boland win Player of the Series after debuting in the 3rd Test?” He certainly could. He’s only two wickets behind the leaders, Starc and Lyon (15 each). But ... he’s just gone off the field after falling, not for the first time, in his follow-through.

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62nd over: England 162-4 (Stokes 40, Bairstow 4) Lyon to Stokes: yet another maiden. In the space of eight overs, Lyon and Boland have conceded only 11 runs and made any thoughts of an England win look silly.

61st over: England 162-4 (Stokes 40, Bairstow 4) Boland to Bairstow: another maiden.

“Hope you’re well,” says Dave Sadler. Not bad, thanks! “I am an ambitious England fan sat in the humidity at the SCG. I was working out how many runs an over we needed to win. It was about five a few overs ago and we were ticking along. And then Boland came in (with Lyon) and we’ve barely scored a run. His pace isn’t that special, what is it that the England batters can’t deal with? It seems remarkable that Aus have pulled someone out the Sheffield Shield who then dominates in such a fashion.” It’s true, there is an element of mystery about him, as he’s mostly no more than 80-82mph. But he bowls a heavy ball, every ball – putting his burly frame into it. And he’s so rigorously accurate that the batter gets no respite.

60th over: England 162-4 (Stokes 40, Bairstow 4) Lyon, who is finding some turn, draws an inside edge from Stokes. It trickles away for two but will only encourage Lyon, who can surely smell some wickets here.

59th over: England 160-4 (Stokes 38, Bairstow 4) So it’s back to Stokes and Bairstow, the ginger ninjas who made a game of it by rescuing England from the depths of 36-4 in the first innings. And Bairstow is nearly run out! Going for a second to backward square – he’d be gone if Alex Carey had gathered the throw neatly.

It’s been phenomenal stuff from Boland. He now has two for 17 from 15 overs, while Starc and Cummins, both far more tried-and-Tested, have none for 91 from 24 between them.

Bairstow dives to make his ground.
Bairstow dives to make his ground. Photograph: Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

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Wicket!! Root c Carey b Boland 24 (England 156-4)

Boland gets his man! A classic nick, reward for his relentless accuracy. And in that split second the scales tip in favour of an Australia win.

Boland snares Root.
Boland snares Root. Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP

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58th over: England 156-3 (Root 23, Stokes 38) Root takes a single off Lyon and Stokes, on the attack again, belts him over mid-on for four.

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57th over: England 151-3 (Root 23, Stokes 34) Boland bothers Root again, beating him on the inside edge with the nip-backer and going up for a big appeal. Cummins thinks about a review before deciding against. He’s probably right, but it’s surprising as he has three reviews to play with and Root is the man most capable of batting all day here. I wonder if Cummins was dissuaded by the famous moment at Headingley in 2019 when Tim Paine burned Australia’s last review and paid the price.

56th over: England 150-3 (Root 23, Stokes 34) It’s a double change as Green gives way to Lyon. He’s on the spot to Stokes, who is wary, as well he may be after being LBW b Lyon in the first innings, and that’s a maiden.

A couple of things I missed, sorry. That pull from Stokes in the 53rd over brought up the fifty partnership – it’s now 54 off 22 overs or so. And I failed to say thanks to Sam Perry, whose elegant words kept us entertained for the first half of the day, or, in my case, the whole of the night.

55th over: England 150-3 (Root 23, Stokes 34) Here is a bowling change. Cummins takes Starc off and brings back Scott Boland, the man with the fairytale Test career. He’s immaculate as usual: five testing balls to Root in the channel, followed by one that jags away and just evades the outside edge.

54th over: England 150-3 (Root 23, Stokes 34) Still no bowling change from Cummins since the resumption, which isn’t like him. Green doesn’t repay his faith in this over, repeatedly dropping too short. Root plays a measured cut for two, then a less measured one that would bring four if it wasn’t rudely interrupted by a flying save from Nathan Lyon in the gully. Root then plays a watchful pull for a single. He does play at a lot of deliveries, which makes great viewing, but it has got him into trouble on all of his trips to Australia.

53rd over: England 147-3 (Root 20, Stokes 34) Starc continues and it’s Root’s turn to get a harmless edge, a thick one off the inside of the bat as he pushes to leg. He takes a single, leaving Stokes to help himself to a straight punch for two and a pull for four. These pulls are making him grimace, but he’s still playing them. Is he dreaming of a win?

52nd over: England 140-3 (Root 19, Stokes 28) Green overpitches for once and Stokes cashes in with a crunching cover drive for four. He has batted better here, with a side strain, than he did in the first three Tests when fully fit.

Halfway to the draw!

51st over: England 136-3 (Root 19, Stokes 24) Starc finds a sliver of movement, squares Stokes up and draws a leading edge, but it goes down not up. Stokes replies with a rock-solid push to mid-on for a single. And England have made it to halfway in terms of overs – while, of course, reserving the right to collapse at any time.

Stokes remains at the crease.
Stokes remains at the crease. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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50th over: England 135-3 (Root 19, Stokes 23) Green to Root: dot, dot, dot... maiden. And England have made it to 50 overs, with another 52 to go if the rain stays away.

49th over: England 135-3 (Root 19, Stokes 23) Stokes, facing Starc for the first time in this spell, gets a short ball and thinks he might as well pull it for six. Say what you like about England, they’ve won the battle of the sixes in this match – the score is England 8, Australia 5. As yet, though, neither side has managed a seven.

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48th over: England 129-3 (Root 19, Stokes 17) At the other end, Cummins goes with Cameron Green, so it’s height at both ends. Three singles and no alarms off his over.

47th over: England 126-3 (Root 17, Stokes 16) It’s Mitchell Starc to reopen the proceedings. He’s mostly outside off stump, where many batsmen would leave him alone – but not Joe Root, who lives and dies by the glide. He lives by it now, helping himself to a four, nice and controlled.

46th over: England 126-3 (Root 17, Stokes 16)

Starc begins the second session and he’s tight enough until he finally offers Root some width, and the English captain obliges with a boundary.

It will be Tim de Lisle next! Thanks for having me.

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We’ll lose seven overs

Play to recommence at 2.10pm local

That’s in nine minutes

Isla on England’s supposed 0% chance of winning via CricViz: Hi Sam, as a mathematician, can I say that’s possible, if there’s no decimal point and numbers behind the decimal point. That is: a probability of less than 0.5%. Though as a cricket fan I’d give England a slightly higher probability of winning - still remember Butcher’s big hundred chasing down 370-odd, and Crawley seems to be in the mood. Cheers, Isla

From Gavin: “The ground PA is now playing “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone”. So I think we’ll be playing again soon.”

Forecast looking good for the next few hours

gif evidence

Covers are coming off!

I’ll comb around for information about resumption of play, and any overs lost...

Possibly getting a little better at the SCG

But the big covers are still on...

From James: “Hi Pez, as this match is heading towards a draw, obliterating my excitement about the continuing march towards 5-0, I’ve just had a random thought hit me in the early stages of a rain delay. Why, when recounting the score of a series, do we omit the draws from the results? Cricket seems unique among the sports in saying that only a game won by either teams is a ‘result.’ If a draw happened, was it not the result of the game, did the game never happen, is it to be technically legally forgotten? If this match were a draw, couldn’t the series be rightfully recorded as being at 3-0-1? I think it’s purely an aesthetic thing because upon writing that out it looks yuck.”

I think your suspicion is correct, James. It looks yuck. And it’s otherwise implicit, provided one knows how many Tests were in the series. On top of that, would we need to delineate between rain-affected draws, abandoned matches, and plain draws?

Then again, maybe cricket needs more numbers?

There’s been a “seven” over at NZ v Bangladesh

Perfect

Brad Haddin on Alex Carey

From Steve Gannon at 1.20pm, via email: “1:20 pm. It’s the edge of a shower with clear radar from behind. Shouldn’t be long. Steve.”

Hope you’re right, Steve!

Covers on ...

On Alex Carey

In fact, “so dark the groundsmen or already laying out the hessian,” says Adam Collins

Weather looking ominous

LUNCH: England 122-3 (Root 13, Stokes 16)

An even session where both sides will feel in with a shout for their desired result.

We’ve seen a little bit of variable bounce, but not too much so as to make life unmanageable for the visitors. After the early loss of Hameed, soon followed by Malan, we were treated to some of the most glorious batting from Zak Crawley, who truly looked world beating as he carved Cummins, Starc, Boland and co to all parts. At one point he had 77 from 91 runs, before Cameron Green - it is fair to say - outsmarted him with a yorker. To that point Crawley had been imperious on both front and back foot, but particularly the latter.

Root and Stokes have since steadied proceedings, looking solid enough against Australia’s rotating quintet. Mitchell Starc has been held back, while the others have maintained their lines and lengths, anticipating some misbehaviour in the pitch. The ghosts of India last year are still there, most evident when Alex Carey recorded another very take-able dropped chance, which will rightly provoke conversation about his keeping credentials.

Three wickets is a decent return for most sessions of cricket, but there is plenty of hope for England. This one looks like it’s going deep. Strap in (or, enjoy it however you like, really).

Updated

45th over: England 122-3 (Root 13, Stokes 16)

Root pushes the second into the gap on the off-side, so Stokes will be left to see it out. Lyon gets one to slide in to Stokes’ pads, but he gets enough bat on it to be safe. There’s a hold up in play while Lyon brings deep square in. Stokes charges(!) but Lyon drags down and Stokes defends. One to go. It’s the straight one, Stokes handles it. Lyon and Root laugh. Lunch!

44th over: England 121-3 (Root 12, Stokes 16)

Root is struck again on the inside thigh. Only just! Root falls forward a little and walks away, talking to himself, crouching over (as you do). Cummins really knows how to find Root’s nether areas. The next looks like Root has almost chopped on, but it’s stuck between his legs. Root then misses out on tickling one fine - Cummins is very straight to him. I wonder if the wide one will come. It doesn’t, it’s a fraction short, and Root helps a pull shot down to deep backward square for one. It’s a no-ball too. Cummins bounces Stokes, Stokes pulls it hard, and Boland misfields it into the boundary. He’s done that a good two or three times. Fifth ball, Stokes clips it to Harris at short leg but Harris drops it! It was straight to him - hit firmly enough - but in, then out. He tried to clutch it into the breadbasket, wrapping his arms and legs around it, but it found its way out. One more ‘till lunch.

Damian: “Morning. I agree with Mr. Parker about Mr. Starbuck’s coffee, but I’d like to let him know that I always found that the fur round his hood was a poor design choice when it got really damp.Yours etc, Damian”

44th over: England 115-3 (Root 11, Stokes 12)

Lyon v Stokes. There are two dots, so something has to change, doesn’t it? No. Stokes defends again. Lyon will want to keep him here. So he’s quick and flat, and Stokes defends. This is where Stokes tries something different. Lyon tosses up, and I am wrong, Stokes defends. Was a half-volley. Stokes then misses out on a short and wide one. A maiden. Quick over.

43rd over: England 115-3 (Root 11, Stokes 12)

Root just evades an LBW, squeezing the bottom corner of his bat onto one that would’ve been plumb otherwise. Cummins is picking things up here, 12 minutes to lunch. It’s Stokes now, and he’s leaving before receiving a leg bye to deep square. Root then pulls Cummins handsomely, sublimely, over backward square for four. He digs out the last.

42nd over: England 109-3 (Root 6, Stokes 12)

Stokes won’t stay in one spot, it’s cat and mouse etc. He comes down the wicket and wristily flicks it past Lyon for two. He’s down again but Lyon sees it, dragging it down, and Stokes has to lunge to defend. Good from Stokes - he doesn’t want Lyon to settle.

From Thomas Bancroft: I am cricket and whisky loving jazz musician who has played a gig at the Bunnahabhain Distillery in the Islay Jazz Festival. It is pronounced Boon-a-Haar-ven with the last 2 syllables rhyming with the name Marvin. After a gig a few of us were taken up to the distillery managers office and given a nip of 40 year old special cask Bunnahabhain. Jazz, test cricket, and single malt - all similar engaging pursuits. Best, Tom Bancroft (he left his number but I have deleted it)

41st over: England 107-3 (Root 6, Stokes 10)

Now to Cummins v Root, there’s one that takes the pad down the leg side, Carey falls to his left to collect it, but none of it is real - just a flick of the pad. We’re now seeing vistas of a brooding Sydney sky - it looks stormy. The Penrith boy shoots for the yorker but Root is there, just looking a little stuck at the crease. A single would be handy. Always strange when Root is kept quiet. But he is here, and it’s a maiden.

40th over: England 107-3 (Root 6, Stokes 10)

Lyon is bowling to Stokes, and that’s what he’d want. Actually, who am I to know what Lyon would want? It’s a meditation in flight versus forward defence. Stokes then mixes it up and goes back to the same ball. So far, so safe. Then Lyon goes quicker, flatter, straighter - Stokes is onto it. That’s the killer ball. Lyon starts the dance again but Stokes is having none of it - he’s across and sweeping him over square leg for four. A good waltz.

39th over: England 103-3 (Root 6, Stokes 6)

Cummins is into the attack now. His first comes back a fraction and Root inside edges onto his pad. “Ohh!” exclaim the Australians. Root is more watchful on the next, his head staying down through the stroke that little bit longer. Cummins challenges fourth stump again. Root is half-in, half-out, he open faces it to gully. Root corrects again. Same line, but straighter in defence down the ground. I like this: we had Green v Crawley earlier on the undercard, now Cummins v Root as the headliner. Cummins gets another to seam in and take Root’s inside thigh. Hope his has a pad there - I’m sure he does. Cummins making it talk.

38th over: England 103-3 (Root 6, Stokes 6)

Two close-in for Root now, facing Lyon. Root works him to deep mid-wicket. One now close-in for Stokes. Lyon is quick and flat. Stokes can’t find a gap.

37th over: England 102-3 (Root 5, Stokes 6)

It’s Green - second slip (Smith) moves to leg gully. They want to bowl straight. Green is around the wicket, angling in at Stokes’ off stump. Stokes then squeezes one off the inside edge just past the grasp of Harris at short leg. He gets two. Stokes challenged by Green here.

36th over: England 100-3 (Root 5, Stokes 4)

Lyon’s back on. He’s straight on the money. Root is so far happy to sit back, though one expects he’ll use his feet soon. I’m still sad Crawley is out. Lyon’s giving it air here, Root is not accepting. It goes like that for the back half of the over.

From Alex Gartland: Hi Sam, Can’t help but think that Zak Crawley has bought himself a few more games he maybe doesn’t deserve due to that knock. Is it worth persisting with someone who looks fantastic once every 5-10 innings but consistently fails to make scores? It might be a James Vince situation all over again. Cheers

Who else should have his spot? The young man is good enough, his competitors are less so. He needs to remain now. That innings was multiple standard deviations higher than anything any rival for his spot has been able to muster.

35th over: England 100-3 (Root 5, Stokes 4)

Green almost takes Stokes’ off stump in much the same way he did in the first innings when the bail failed to move. Stokes replies by straight driving him for four - he is unmoved after the stroke. Always looks better that way. He defends the next and takes one hand off the bat - he looks pained.

From johnstarbuck: Sam, I do understand the point about the so-called coffee shops ‘Starbucks’’ and their feeble merchandise but would point out that they have nothing to do with my family. It was a significantly weak appropriation of the character Mr Starbuck, First Mate of the Peaquod in ‘Moby-Dick’ (an American classic) who was something of a Cassandra in that he forecast doom and gloom and was proven right even though no-one believed him. The number of times I’ve had to point this out .... John Starbuck PS Pity about Crawley but well done for having a go.

Thank you johnstarbuck

34th over: England 96-3 (Root 5, Stokes 0)

Boland looks dangerous again. He’s back of a length and Root is watchful. Sorry, but that was a remarkable innings from Crawley - completely at odds with the rhythm of the innings. There’s no hundred for him but it deeply underscored his ability. Green v Crawley: we’ll probably see that one again. A maiden for Boland, by the way.

33rd over: England 96-3 (Root 5, Stokes 0)

Root moves off a pair courtesy of a leg stump half-volley from Green. Nicely clipped, it’s finer than fine leg. Get Root off strike though, I want to watch Crawley. Thank you, Joe - have one to square leg. Can you believe it? He gets a short and wide delivery, but Crawley finds Lyon at point. Is that his first mistake? Possibly, because he makes another, Green yorking him gloriously to remove him. Told you they needed to pitch it up!

Green celebrates claiming the wicket of Crawley.
Green celebrates claiming the wicket of Crawley. Photograph: Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Updated

WICKET! Crawley LBW Green 77 (England 96-3)

Yorker, it gets under his bat, and he’s LBW! Crawley reviews extremely unsuccessfully, it’s as out as it gets. That was a sensational knock from Crawley, well played young man. Then again, he’s probably thrown away a double tonne.

Updated

32nd over: England 91-2 (Crawley 77, Root 0)

Why do they keep bowling on his hip? Who cares? Another flicked boundary for Crawley, this time from Boland’s bowling. I’d call that one “caressed”. He’s 77 from 91 runs. So Australia has a short leg and short square leg. Why would you keep bowling there? Starve him! I’m a guy on the computer.

31st over: England 87-2 (Crawley 73, Root 0)

Green is retained, so Lyon’s been removed after a wicket. Interesting. Crawley - you guessed it - whips him through mid wicket for four. He then gets a single (“good cricket!”) and Root sees off the rest.

30th over: England 82-2 (Crawley 68, Root 0)

Boland returns, so Lyon is removed! Is Root ... Boland’s bunny? Or is Lyon changing ends? The burly Victorian somehow keeps Crawley at bay for four balls - Crawley is looking to score, almost too much? Or just the right amount? Lots of questions this post. But you can’t keep a form bat down - Crawley takes a quick single to Lyon at mid on. It looks close, but it’s not.

From Benjamin Parker: Hi Sam, I believe the Dr Purve “joke” was referring to the good doctor’s first name being Meghan like the oft trolled Ms Markel. I personally found Mr Starbuck’s joke weak and overall disappointing, rather like his coffees :-) Yours in nomenative antagonism, Benjamin Parker

Still don’t know what’s going on but enjoying it anyway.

29th over: England 81-2 (Crawley 67, Root 0)

Cameron Green is introduced. It’s tall boy on tall boy (what?). Three balls in and Green learns not to bowl short to this guy, he crunches him brutally in front of square for four, another pull short. Okay, says Green, how about short and wide outside off? Sure - another three. Green goes fifth stump to Root and he’s hanging his bat at it out to point, no run. Another short one and Root can’t match Crawley for the pull shot - he misses.

28th over: England 72-2 (Crawley 60, Root 0)

Malan happy to prop on the front foot, even with three catchers, and play Lyon from there. He finds a single behind square. Crawley gets on strike, and straight off - dabbing one behind point. Lyon then gets Malan!

WICKET! Malan b Lyon 4 (England 74-2)

Malan stays back and Lyon gets one to go straight through and bowls him! He’d been comfortable propping on the front foot - but this one was faster, flatter, and got through him. That’s drinks.

Lyon skids one through and Malan departs.
Lyon skids one through and Malan departs. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Updated

27th over: England 72-1 (Crawley 59, Malan 3)

The early lift and carry appears to have subsided, with Carey taking many around his knees now. This is going to be a grind for the hosts. Deliveries two, three and four are left. And the fifth is clipped for four. Easy pickings for Crawley. A leg stump half-volley from Starc. He chops the final one in to the ground and over Green’s head for four. No easy feat! Crawley unstoppable.

From George: Hi Sam Freelance, Just by the side, if anyone could tell me how to pronounce “bunnahabhain”, that would be of use. I remain, etc, George

Anyone?

26th over: England 64-1 (Crawley 51, Malan 3)

Lyon and Malan arm-wrestle an over that ends even - Malan is solid, and Lyon acquires a maiden.

Andrew Jolly says: “It’s 11am and I don’t have the taste of English blood in my mouth. I don’t like it and it makes me feel uneasy.”

Ben Mimmack says: “Hi Sam, after four tough warm up matches, England look like they’re adjusting nicely to Australian conditions. Now, when do the test matches start? What? Oh...”

Malan at the crease.
Malan at the crease. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Updated

25th over: England 64-1 (Crawley 51, Malan 3)

Crawley’s off strike straight away as Starc persists with that straight line that Crawley enjoys. Malan, too, times a push into cover nicely and gets a run. Crawley crunches an on drive that’s stopped. Man, he looks like he’s playing a different game here. I realise it looks like I’m putting the “mozz” on him - I’m really not, he just looks imperious at present.

An email that I don’t understand but sounds funny: “Dear Doctor Perve, you need to worry more about your first name when it comes to active trolls. John Starbuck”

24th over: England 62-1 (Crawley 50, Malan 2)

Enter Nathan Lyon, who may well bowl unchanged for the rest of the game. He’s got the speed dealers on, two men close-in catching, and two men on the boundary. Crawley punches the first for one and there’s Crawley’s fifty, an excellent innings. This is no doubt the start of something for the young man. It’s his fifth Test fifty - there will be many more. How far can he go here? He looks completely untroubled. Malan is meanwhile defending safely enough.

23rd over: England 61-1 (Crawley 49, Malan 2)

Starc replaces Cummins - great win for Crawley there, who put pressure on Australia’s skipper and is rewarded for it. CricViz is saying England are 0% chance to win, a provocative number! That simply defies mathematics, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, Malan works one to the onside for one. Starc then makes Cummins’ mistake and bowls short to Crawley. It’s easily swivel-pulled for four. Don’t bowl on this bloke’s hip. Starc is too straight again and Crawley gets one to leg. Malan manages the remainder.

Tom writes in: “Hi Sam, there’s an unsettling, tense badinage between Geoff Lawson and David Gower. There’s definite niggle. Regards, Tom, Drumcondra Library”

Tell me more!

22nd over: England 55-1 (Crawley 44, Malan 1)

Boland isn’t interested in the short stuff, he’s full to Malan and he’s beating him with a beautiful away swinger (to the left-hander). Some thought of a review, but declined, correctly. Malan then sort of walks at Boland’s next one - to break up his length? - and it strikes his pad, making him look a little silly. Malan was outside the line. The next ball then jumps at Malan and he rides it around the corner - it hit him on the glove and he didn’t know a lot about it. Actually that’s not fair, he hit it down. Boland is on serious song here.

The good word is in!

21st over: England 54-1 (Crawley 44, Malan 0)

Australia building some pressure but it’s not affecting Crawley. Again he pumps Cummins for four, pulling him to deep backward square for four. It raced to Boland at the boundary, he went with one hand but it burst through. Cummins is back on the money for the next couple. Just one slip now. Crawley pulls Cummins again! Wow. These are the strokes of a confident player. Four runs. This one was in front of the wicket. You don’t see Cummins taken down like this.

20th over: England 46-1 (Crawley 36, Malan 0)

So Boland picks up Hameed, which gives him four balls at Dawid Malan. He’s around the wicket, and Malan handles him. He’s taken 12 wickets for the series, and Adam Collins on the radio tells us that he’s drawn level with Pat Cummins on that front. Wow.

WICKET! Hameed c Carey b Boland 9 (England 46-1)

Carey atones! Didn’t have to move as far but it’s low, to the right, and Carey snaffles it with both hands. Hameed was stuck on the crease, Boland nips one away and it gets the edge. Carey will be relieved, to say the least.

Boland has yet another wicket.
Boland has yet another wicket. Photograph: Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Updated

19th over: England 46-0 (Hameed 9, Crawley 36)

Crawley flicks Cummins off his hip from the first ball confidently for four. Boland can’t get there. Later on Cummins gets one to kick and Crawley gets his hands out of the way. He responds by clipping Cummins strongly through midwicket for four. He leaves the next. Good over for Crawley, good over for England.

18th over: England 38-0 (Hameed 9, Crawley 28)

One from Boland’s over here. He’s finding some bounce, but the defending is assured. Crawley flicks one to mid wicket to keep it ticking over.

We’re seeing replays of Carey’s drop. Some suggestion it might be Warner’s? I don’t think so. The angle of Cummins’ delivery means Carey’s bodyweight is slanted the other way, but he made the ground easily enough. Two hands? Possibly came too quickly. His feet looked heavy.

17th over: England 37-0 (Hameed 9, Crawley 27)

Cummins thinks he’s taken Crawley’s edge through to Carey, but I don’t think he’s got any friends. Cummins is keen, but no one else seems to be. He opts for everyone else’s view and rejects the review. Snicko confirms his judgment to be correct. Great ball nonetheless. Crawley’s on the front foot thereafter, and he scampers through for one behind point. Green has a shy but Hameed is home comfortably. Cummins then squares Hameed up and beats him on the outside. It angles in and nips away. Next one takes the edge and Carey spills it! He was diving away to the right, he went with one hand, he made enough ground, and if anything went too far. That hurts, big time.

16th over: England 36-0 (Hameed 9, Crawley 26)

The SEN Radio team are talking about Australia’s ghosts from the India fixture at the SCG last year. The short ball approach, no wickets in the final session. Katich says “you have to go at the stumps”. Boland is at the stumps here, but Hameed is happy defending and leaving on the front foot.

15th over: England 36-0 (Hameed 9, Crawley 26)

Some balls are jumping, others are dying. Some are quickening, others are slowing. But England looks assured regardless. Cummins appears to be going wide, wide, wide, then straightening. Crawley is onto it and handling it calmly. Australia’s captain finds an off stump line at the end and Crawley slightly errs in attempting to turn it to the onside, with a hint of a leading edge. Otherwise, well played.

Australia v England
Australia v England Photograph: Kevin Manning/Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock

14th over: England 36-0 (Hameed 9, Crawley 26)

Boland gets the first three at Crawley before the opener finds a single to fine leg, then Hameed defends the final three confidently.

Judging from this tweet on my timeline, Australia has a few final day demons themselves...

13th over: England 35-0 (Hameed 9, Crawley 25)

Crawley works Cummins’ first around the corner for one, a leg bye. A conventional field for Australia. Two slips, a gully, a forward short leg. There’s a short mid wicket, all of which points to some variable bounce. Cummins is straight to Crawley again and he works him for three. His next to Hameed seams back in a fair way, but it’s comfortably left. Hameed plays and misses at the next, and Carey collects it on the bounce. That ball died a quick death.

12th over: England 30-0 (Hameed 8, Crawley 22)

Boland kicks things off and there’s a bat-pad appeal straight away, but it’s non-committal. Hameed leaves the next and Carey takes it in front of his face. Continuing the theme, Boland gets another to jump as Hameed comes forward and it raps him on the gloves and chest. The next is much the same, but Hameed deals with it. Good signs for Boland. A maiden.

The players are heading out onto the field. It’s overcast, there’s a smattering of people, The Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” is playing for the 4000th time this summer, and we’re nearly there. Australia needs 10 wickets. England needs 358 runs.

England’s Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley march out.
England’s Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley march out. Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP

Updated

Andrew Jolly on Khawaja: I know that Harris scores loads of runs in the Sheffield Shield, Burns and Sibley are the dominant openers in the county championship and still average in the mid 20s after however many chances in tests. I’d probably have given Harris another go for Hobart if Khawaja hadn’t done what he’d done, but to me its an absolute no brainer.

To keep him in the side would be a very English move.”

That settles it, he must be picked!

Andrew Benton with a prediction: “Whatever the result, England need to look as though they’ve been learning. It’s all a learning process, after all. So I predict no whack and thwack batting, nothing risky at all in fact, just a desperate attempt to stave off defeat and bat out the day. But my predictions are usually wrong, and they’ll be giving away those wickets all over the place. They’ll need the rain to save them.”

From Kim Thonger: “Top of the time of day there to you Sam. Intrigued by your use of just first names when posting emails. Would Don Bradman, emailing you, be just Don? How would we compare his opinion with, say, that of Donald Duck? The former would, in the cricketing world at least, carry more weight? Ian Botham would, I think, not wish to be confused with Ian McKellen, and vice-versa. No names no pack-drill has its place, but is that place on the OBO? Asking for a friend called Isaac.”

Hi Kim Thonger! Look, most people are merely signing off with their first name and I’m taking their lead. To those whose surnames I’ve omitted against their wishes, I apologise! Please email me directly with your full names and I will publish them one by one, line by line.

Here’s Matthew via email on Khawaja: I think the Aussie selectors are hoping someone tests positive for COVID in the next week or so (not implausible given the current situation), so they can slot Khawaja in the vacant slot and save a load of grief.

This is a very sensible analysis and likely scenario

Katich on Khawaja: “I thought the case should have been closed for him to stay in the team for Hobart after the first innings, let alone a second innings. I think he’d done enough in that first innings given the way that he compiled the hundred and then to back it up yesterday, he was on autopilot. We know he’s done the aviation degree but he was certainly batting on autopilot yesterday. It was muscle memory. He was carving the ball through covers, extra point, you name it, he hit it there. He’s just in imperious form. There’s no way they can leave him out for Hobart. No way.”

Simon Katich on SEN Radio this morning

In the meantime we have an email from Finbar: “Good evening Sam, just wondered if there could be any other approach for England today other than guns blazing? Seems obvious doesn’t it? Nothing to lose and all that.”

Graham Thorpe made comments last night setting sights on a draw, so while the suggestion titillates, I think we’re in for a day of dogged defence. Can England do it? I actually think they can. The wicket appears to improve as the day goes on, and Australia do historically struggle to remove the opposition once set. The alternative is they lose a few early and the rest go in a hurry.

Updated

Khawaja: what to do now?

He’s 35 and actualised. His rivals are ... not that. Geoff Lemon explores it all, here.

For the sake of argument, I’d love to hear views - especially from the UK - on whether or not Khawaja should continue in the side. My view is that he should. While Australian teams deeply value incumbency when they’re winning, they’re also allowed to improve. Travis Head is a lock, so Marcus Harris looks precarious. So far missing from the conversation is Will Pucovski, who has his eye on the Pakistan tour. What do you think? Is there a case for retaining Harris?

Khawaja celebrates his second century of the match at the SCG.
Khawaja celebrates his second century of the match at the SCG. Photograph: Kevin Manning/Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Preamble

Hello all. Here we go: a fifth day, a docile-enough pitch, 10 wickets in play, and 98 overs to decide whether a whitewash is on or not.

At 30-0, England have reason to believe they can – to use footballing parlance – “get something” from the Test. Though it came from an admittedly low base, last night Crawley and Hameed looked as assured as they have all series, and will be keen to continue on in the day’s opening exchanges.

As the day wears on and wickets inevitably fall, the visitors, of course, will be relying on a number of guys carrying injury. Each of Stokes, Bairstow and Butler are walking wounded but are expected to bat.

It’s a day for close-in fields, strange plans, and digging in. The weather, as ever, is dubious. The morning is meant to be OK, but it’s meant to get worse as the day goes on. Then again, they’ve said that for the last three days and rain has barely intervened.

Hit me at sam.perry.freelance@theguardian.com or on Twitter: @sjjperry.

Updated


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