England blaze to 377-run lead to set up Ashes victory charge

SUMMARY: England 283 all out from 54.4 overs (Harry Brook 85, Ben Duckett 41; Mitchell Starc 4-82) and 389-9 from 80 overs (Joe Root 91, Jonny Bairstow 78, Zak Crawley 73, Ben Duckett 42, Ben Stokes 42; Mitchell Starc 4-94, Todd Murphy 3-110) vs Australia 295 all out from 103.1 overs (Steve Smith 71, Usman Khawaja 47; Chris Woakes 3-61)


England gave themselves a golden opportunity to level the Ashes series with a joyful batting display on the third day of the fifth Test against Australia at The Oval.

The home side piled up 389-9, a lead of 377, as Australia were once again hit by some thrilling strokeplay.

Almost all of the top order made contributions. Zak Crawley set the tone by driving Mitchell Starc’s first ball of the day for four, laying the platform for an opening stand of 79 with Ben Duckett.

Crawley made 73 and Duckett 42, the same score as captain Ben Stokes, who was promoted to number three in place of the injured Moeen Ali.

When England endured a slight wobble in losing two wickets for nine runs, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow combined for a fifth-wicket stand of 110. Root fell nine runs short of a deserved century, while Bairstow was out for 78.

Moeen, batting at number seven, added a cameo of 29, but was part of a flurry of England wickets late in the day. Starc picked up 4-94 and off-spinner Todd Murphy 3-110 as England lost 4-19.

By that stage, England had already got to the stage where Australia would need to complete the highest-ever successful chase in a Test on this ground.

There is rain forecast for Sunday, though not enough bad weather across the final two days to match the ruined end of the drawn fourth Test at Old Trafford.

England are looking to draw the series 2-2, while Australia are looking for the 3-1 win that would give them a first success in this country for 22 years.

England dish out one last Bazballing

This match was beautifully poised after two days, both first innings complete with Australia only 12 runs ahead, leaving England’s batting effort on Saturday to shape the contest.

What followed was one last show of England’s swashbuckling style, a final Bazballing handed to the Australians to send them on the plane with their heads spinning. It was never reckless or careless, but a supreme demonstration of controlled aggression, positive intent and crisp shotmaking.

England wiped out the deficit inside the first over and never looked back – never before has an Australian bowler leaked more than the 13 runs conceded by Starc in the opening over of an Ashes innings. Australia instantly retreated and were powerless to stop England building their lead on a true pitch.

In contrast to Australia’s crawl on day two, when they scored only 54 runs in the morning session, England had as many inside 10 overs. When Root reverse-scooped Mitchell Marsh for six, it was England’s 41st maximum of the series, an Ashes record.

Only once before in Ashes Tests have England reached 300 quicker than the 57.4 overs here and that was at Old Trafford last week.

The late collapse took some of the shine off England’s day and left them short of where they might have been.

When last man James Anderson made his way to the crease, Australia dawdled long enough to ensure they would not have to bat on Saturday evening, leaving the stage set for the decisive run chase over the final two days. (BBC Sport)

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