With Australia needing to win only one of the three remaining Tests in the series to retain the trophy, they headed to Headingley, renowned in Ashes history as ‘the ground where astonishing cricket matches are never played’, for their first attempt to do so.
You will never guess what happened next…
Here are the ratings for the Third Ashes Test.
Reviewing The Toss
Joe Root won the toss on a cloudy first day with a bit of drizzle in the air and therefore had no hesitation in choosing to bowl first. Tim Paine, like all sensible captains, immediately pretended he was going to bat first anyway.
This is obviously the correct response to losing a toss, but here’s an alternative to consider – why not allow the captain who lost the toss to spend a DRS review in exchange for a second (or, if desired, third) toss of the coin. Effectively reviewing the toss.
This would add an exciting new element of strategy to the game before it even began. How badly did you want to win the toss? Bad enough to play your innings with only one chance to send a decision upstairs? And what if you lose the toss a second time? Do you have a third crack at it and risk playing with no reviews at all? What an exciting mini-game that would be, in a form of the game that badly needs more thrilling moments.
Certainly, given how poorly Paine employs DRS during a match, it would be the most profitable way for Australia to use them.
The Western Terrace
Two main features stand out about Headingley as a spectator at the ground. The first is that there’s a giant green pavilion that looks like it’s been carved from a multi-faceted mineral. Somehow this is not The Emerald Stand.
The Emerald Stand is instead on the other side of the ground right beside the second main feature of the ground, the Western Terrace, home to the soldiers, generals and ex-servicemen of the Barmy Army.
As you’d imagine, the Western Terrace spends their entire day drinking, singing and insulting Australians. ‘Same old Aussies,’ they will drunkenly sing. ‘Always cheating.’ This chant could be in response to anything from an appeal for caught behind to a failed lbw review to Matthew Wade advancing down the pitch to Jack Leach’s bowling.
Still, it’s an accusation that does sting a little. Australia, after all, isn’t always cheating. Why, off the top of my head, I can think of as many as eight to twelve occasions in our proud history when we didn’t do so.
And yes, I did cheat by using a cricket database to look up those ‘top of my head’ moments. What’s your point?
David Warner made 61 on the first day as Australia were bowled out for a disappointing 179. It’s unclear exactly how he made that many runs, given that he played and missed at every single delivery that was bowled at him.
But as inexplicably useful as that contribution was, it paled in comparison to the second day where Warner caught every chance that came his way, snaring four hot chances at first slip as England were bowled out for a mere 67, in a diabolical batting display that cost them the Ashes.
In the third innings of the Test, Warner played and missed just the one time. An enormous improvement on his first dig one might think, were it not for the fact that the ball he missed was a Stuart Broad delivery that thudded into his pad, to have him lbw for a duck.
Then, in the final innings of the match, as England chased an impossible 359 for victory, it was Warner’s catching that again stole the show. He snaffled two from first slip, including a stunning grab from Nathan Lyon on the fourth morning that was caught somehow directly behind Tim Paine. The catch ended Joe Root’s stay at the crease and snuffed out whatever slim chances England might have had for victory.
Could anybody have had a more wild roller-coaster ride of a Test than David Warner? I can’t possibly see how.
Australia had set England that unattainable 359 run target thanks to a combination of their 112 run first innings lead and another sensible innings from Marnus Labuschagne.
Labuschagne exploited a tired England attack, batting with great maturity to make 80 in the second innings to go along with his 74 in the first, as he guided Australia to 246 all out.
But it wasn’t just his sensible batting that impressed. Labuschagne also conspired to time his entrance to the ground on the third morning to coincide with the conclusion of the singing of ‘Jerusalem’. As a result, he strode to the crease accompanied by a rousing round of applause. Mad skills from Marnus.
Ben Stokes made a useful 135 not out to win England the Test by one wicket. He was awarded Player of the Match for his efforts.