Ashes: England chip away at Australia in crucial fourth Test

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England chipped away at Australia’s batting on a tense and fluctuating first day of the crucial fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

At 2-1 down and needing to win to force a series decider at The Oval, England struck at regular intervals to leave the tourists 299-8 at the close.

Stuart Broad took two, with the second – Travis Head hooking to long leg – making him only the fifth bowler in Test history to reach 600 wickets.

Chris Woakes was the most consistently dangerous – his 4-52 included a magnificent catch from under-fire wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to remove Mitchell Marsh.

Though England won the toss, Australia, who only need to draw one of the final two Tests to retain the urn, were presented with ideal batting conditions.

But scores of 51 each from Marsh and Marnus Labuschagne, 48 to Head and 41 by Steve Smith tell a tale of batters doing the hard work but failing to make telling contributions.

Indeed, at 255-7 Australia were in danger of being bowled out inside a day, only for Alex Carey and Mitchell Starc to resist.

As the close drew near, Woakes removed Carey with the second new ball, leaving England with the opportunity to mop up the tail on Thursday morning.

All this against the backdrop of bad weather that is forecast to disrupt the final two days, possibly adding another variable in a series that has already produced three tight finishes. (BBC)

 

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