Home Cricket England Fights to Keep Ashes Hopes Alive as Ben Stokes Leads the Charge

England Fights to Keep Ashes Hopes Alive as Ben Stokes Leads the Charge

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Ashes series

Headingley, Day Two – The Ashes 2023:
Australia: 263 (Marsh 118; Wood 5-34) & 116-4 (Khawaja 43; Moeen 2-34)
England: 237 (Stokes 80, Cummins 6-91)
Australia leads by 142 runs

Ben Stokes once again displayed his heroics, while England’s bowlers secured crucial late wickets, as the English team fought desperately to keep their Ashes hopes alive on the second day of the third Test at Headingley.

In a reminiscent innings of his famous knock on the same ground four years ago, Stokes scored 80 runs, lifting his side from a precarious 142-7 to a total of 237 all out. Australia ended the day at 116-4, extending their lead to 142 runs.

Stokes’ resilient innings limited the tourists’ first-innings lead to a mere 26 runs, despite losing four wickets in the morning session, including Joe Root falling to Pat Cummins with the second ball of the day. Cummins claimed impressive figures of 6-91.

After lunch, England’s captain launched an assault, hitting five sixes and six fours, with Mark Wood contributing 24 runs from just eight balls to swing the momentum in England’s favor.

Australia began their reply with the loss of David Warner for one run, caught off Stuart Broad. However, they reached 68-1 and established a lead of 94 runs before Moeen Ali removed Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith in successive overs. Chris Woakes then dismissed Usman Khawaja for 43 in the final hour of play.

Travis Head and first-innings centurion Mitchell Marsh survived the remaining 45 minutes, leaving the Test finely poised. A victory for Australia in this Test would seal the series.

A Day of Ups and Downs at Headingley

England finds themselves attempting a historic feat – overcoming a 2-0 deficit to win the Ashes. Their hopes were wavering throughout a captivating second day. However, in Ben Stokes, they have a player who excels when the odds are stacked against him, as shown by his incredible 155 in the second Test and his iconic unbeaten 135 at Headingley in 2019.

Resuming the day at 68-3, England struggled, with only three wickets remaining at lunch and trailing by 121 runs. But their captain fought valiantly, almost single-handedly bringing them closer to parity, all while battling a glute injury.

Stokes’ injury prevented him from bowling, and with Ollie Robinson also out of the attack due to a back spasm, England faced difficulties as Khawaja and Labuschagne blunted the new ball.

Nonetheless, England persevered on a pitch offering less movement and pace than on day one.

Although the presence of Marsh and Head, two batsmen capable of scoring quickly, posed a threat, Headingley is known to be the best Test ground in England for batting in the fourth innings. In the past three fourth-innings chases at this ground, totals of 359, 322, and 296 have been successfully achieved, while Leicestershire accomplished a chase of 389 in county cricket earlier this summer.

Stokes Pushes Through the Pain

Stokes entered the crease after Root fell victim to a bouncing ball from Cummins, caught by Warner at first slip.

Within the first half-hour, Bairstow edged a full delivery from Mitchell Starc to Steve Smith when attempting a forceful drive.

Stokes exhibited patience during the morning session, forming a watchful partnership of 44 runs until Moeen fell into the short-ball trap and was caught at fine leg for 19.

While Woakes faced a bouncer from Starc that struck him on the head, he responded by hitting another delivery for six but was eventually caught behind on the pull shot, edging a thin edge.

Unexpectedly, Wood initiated England’s counter-attack. He hit Starc for a six on the first ball and cleared the boundary twice more in eight balls before Stokes took charge.

Stokes dominated the strike, adding 32 runs with number 10 batsman Broad and 38 runs with the last man, Robinson. He smashed Todd Murphy, making his Ashes debut, for five sixes, including a massive hit into the top tier.

Stokes survived two challenging chances in successive balls when he was on 45. Starc dropped a running catch from long-off, followed by spinner Murphy missing a caught-and-bowled opportunity. However, Stokes was finally dismissed after slicing another powerful shot into the hands of Smith at long-on.

Labuschagne & Smith Provide England an Opening

England’s loss of wickets and their slow scoring rate gave their bowlers little more than 50 overs of rest before taking the field again, while injuries added to their challenges.

The early breakthrough came when Warner nicked Broad to second slip, marking the 17th time he has been dismissed by the English seamer in Tests, leaving Australia at 11-1.

On 33, Labuschagne offered a chance down the leg side while attempting a pull shot against Wood. However, Bairstow failed to hold on to the one-handed diving catch, his third missed opportunity in the match.

Bairstow would later find some relief as Labuschagne slog-swept the next ball straight into the hands of Harry Brook at deep mid-wicket.

The next wicket came as a surprise. Smith, known for his resilience, simply clipped Moeen to mid-wicket, providing England’s off-spinner with his 200th Test scalp. Bairstow sent Smith off the field with a few words from behind the stumps.

Wood, who bowled with pace but slightly slower than on the first day, appeared exhausted when he made way after a testing spell. Woakes replaced him and enticed Khawaja into an edge, resulting in a crucial late breakthrough caught by Bairstow.

With Marsh and left-hander Head at the crease, the Test remains perfectly balanced.

Reactions to the Battle

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew on Test Match Special described it as a fascinating game of cricket, with all the players giving their everything, creating a tremendous battle. Agnew added that it was within England’s reach to keep the Ashes alive.

England all-rounder Moeen Ali expressed his satisfaction with returning to Test cricket, highlighting that playing under Stokes and Brendon (presumably referring to coach Brendon McCullum) made him feel less pressured. He felt comfortable in that environment.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan praised the game’s unpredictability, emphasizing Stokes’ remarkable abilities to maintain clarity amid the chaos.

Australia captain Pat Cummins expressed his desire for a stress-free day or two, acknowledging the fans’ enjoyment of the contest and stating that the stage is set for another wonderful match.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ashes series

What happened on the second day of the Ashes Test at Headingley?

On the second day of the Ashes Test at Headingley, Ben Stokes played a heroic innings, scoring 80 runs and dragging England from a precarious position to a total of 237 all out. Australia ended the day at 116-4, extending their lead to 142 runs.

How did Ben Stokes contribute to England’s fight in the Ashes series?

Ben Stokes played a crucial role in England’s fight to stay alive in the Ashes series. With his resilient innings of 80 runs, he lifted England from a challenging situation and brought them closer to parity. Stokes has shown his ability to perform under pressure, as seen in his previous match-winning innings and his iconic unbeaten 135 at Headingley in 2019.

Who were the key performers for England and Australia on the second day?

Ben Stokes was the standout performer for England, scoring 80 runs and providing crucial contributions to the team’s total. Among the Australian players, Mitchell Marsh stood out with a century in the first innings and Travis Head played a vital role in ensuring the Test remains in the balance.

What are England’s chances of keeping the Ashes alive?

England faces the challenge of overturning a 2-0 deficit to win the Ashes, which they have never done before. However, with Ben Stokes leading the charge and the match finely poised, there is optimism that England can keep their Ashes hopes alive. The Test ground at Headingley has a history of successful fourth-innings chases, providing some encouragement for the English team.

How did injuries affect England’s performance on the second day?

England faced difficulties due to injuries, with Ben Stokes unable to bowl and Ollie Robinson sidelined with a back spasm. These challenges added to the team’s woes, but the players showed resilience and determination despite the setbacks.

More about Ashes series

  • The Ashes – Official website of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) providing information on The Ashes series.
  • Headingley Cricket Ground – Official website of Headingley Cricket Ground, providing details about the stadium and its history.
  • Ben Stokes – Player profile of Ben Stokes on ESPNcricinfo, offering insights into his career statistics and performances.
  • Ashes Series History – ESPNcricinfo’s coverage of The Ashes series, including past matches, results, and highlights.
  • BBC Sport Cricket – Cricket section of BBC Sport, featuring news, articles, and updates on international cricket, including The Ashes.

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