The players are on the field. Good morning to you all. Broad has the ball in his hand, running away from me at the Kirkstall Lane End. He’ll be running in at Labuschagne, who resumes on 53. PLAY!
Hello everybody and welcome to live OBO coverage of the third day of the third Test from Headingley.
This is the midpoint of the Ashes, but it may well be the final day of the summer during which the destination of the urn is unconfirmed. After two and a half Tests Australia have earned themselves a 1-0 series advantage and such an ascendancy at Leeds it seems only a matter of when, and not if, they secure the victory required to take an unassailable lead.
When the 2019 Ashes is distilled by documentarians and diarists, yesterday’s commotion will feature prominently in the narrative arcs. Australia, skittled for under 200 on day one and missing their star player, obliterated England with sustained controlled aggression that had their hosts grasping at air. If one man was the difference at Edgbaston, something more profound flowered at Headingley.
England now have plenty of soul searching to do. How can they arrest such an abysmal run of batting form at Test level? How do they handle Joe Root? After spending so much effort (rightly, in my opinion) on the World Cup cycle, what does the next strategic plan look like and when does it come into effect? How bare is the cupboard?
By contrast, Australia have plenty of back-slapping to do. Their plan has come together superbly. In particular the rotation of the bowling attack to ensure hunger and fitness, and the acclimatisation of all squad members to English conditions. The visitors have established an edge over their World Cup weary hosts unfamiliar to Ashes contests for most of the past couple of decades.
Or have I gone too soon? Could England pull off an ‘81 style miracle again? Are we in for a landmark “I was there” day of Test cricket? Probably not, but it’s an excuse to needle drop the sound of mumsy acid wash denim.