|England v Australia, third Specsavers Test (day one of five)|
|Australia 179: Labuschagne 74, Warner 61, Archer 6-45|
|England: Yet to bat|
Jofra Archer took six wickets to help England bowl out Australia for 179 on a truncated first day of the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
Archer’s 6-45, five of which came in the final session, reversed the fortunes of the home side after they were in danger of wasting ideal bowling conditions.
Either side of two lengthy delays for rain and bad light, Australia reached 136-2 thanks to a third-wicket stand of 111 between David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne.
But Archer, who made such an explosive debut in the second Test, had Warner caught behind for 61 to spark a collapse of three wickets for three runs.
Even at 173-6, honours seemed to be even, only for Archer to return once again and run through the tail. The last four wickets fell for six runs.
Labuschagne, in the Australia side as Steve Smith’s replacement, battled to 74, but was lbw to a Ben Stokes full toss before Archer trapped Nathan Lyon leg before with what proved to be the final delivery of the day.
England, looking to level the series at 1-1, will be hoping to establish a match-winning first-innings lead on Friday.
Although Australia are on the back foot, they will know they are perhaps only one England batting collapse from going 2-0 up with two matches to play and thus retaining the Ashes.
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Archer vindicates Root decision
This was a curious day, one when England’s bowlers threatened to frustrate as much as the weather.
On a pitch which looks set to deteriorate enough to make batting last difficult, Joe Root opted to try to exploit the overhead conditions in a bid to get at an Australia batting line-up missing the concussed Smith.
For long periods England were at risk of failing, especially as Warner and Labuschagne scored freely after tea, when the bowling was loose, the fielding ragged and Root’s captaincy too aggressive.
Even the irrepressible Archer, given a hero’s welcome in Leeds after his fiery debut at Lord’s, was subdued early on, rarely touching 90mph.
However, if his bow in Test cricket showed that he possesses the exciting raw pace to trouble the best batsmen, his late intervention here was a demonstration of full length, seam movement and control.
The crowd cheered him all day – when he began a spell or even touched the ball in the field. By the end, as he led England off, they were saluting England’s new bowling hero.
England’s attack of two halves
Headingley was perfectly set up for seam bowling – damp, murky and with the floodlights on all day.
Even with almost 37 overs lost to the weather, anything other than England making serious inroads into the Australia batting would have been a failure.
There were times when Stuart Broad was superb, tormenting Warner with seam movement, having Usman Khawaja caught down the leg side and later producing a wonderful delivery that nipped away to take Travis Head’s off stump.
Archer took the first wicket, nibbling the ball away from Marcus Harris – in the Australia side to replace Cameron Bancroft – to have him being caught behind.
But even Archer and Broad were both occasionally guilty of bowling too short and losing their line, yet not as culpable as Chris Woakes and Stokes, who were woefully wayward to allow Australia to score at more than six an over in the hour after tea.
However, after Archer took Warner’s edge and bowled Matthew Wade off his body, Woakes improved to have Tim Paine lbw.
Then Archer took over. Both James Pattinson and Pat Cummins edged behind, and last man Nathan Lyon played across a full ball. The last five wickets fell in less than 10 overs.
Warner and Labuschagne hold Australia together
Warner, in his first Test series since serving a year-long ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal, had managed only 18 runs in his four previous innings, falling to Broad on three occasions.
As time and again he played and missed at Broad, surviving on nothing but good fortune, that lean spell looked set to continue.
After the second rain break, with the help of England’s bowlers, the swagger of the old Warner returned with punchy cuts and drives, and bustle between the wickets.
He was supported by Labuschagne, who backed up his impressive half-century as Smith’s concussion substitute at Lord’s with solid defence, judicious leaves and front-foot scoring.
Warner overturned being given caught behind off Broad, but added nothing more to his score when he edged Archer behind to become the first of three wickets in the space of 15 balls.
The impressive Labuschagne remained, seeing all fall around him until he inexplicably missed a high full toss from Stokes to be leg before.
‘If England get 300, they win’ – reaction
England bowler Jofra Archer on BBC Test Match Special: “I didn’t do too much differently from Lord’s. It was a bit bowler-friendly today. I’ll more than take 6-45 but I can be tidier in the future.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “If England get 300, they should win the game. But don’t think it’s all done. Someone has to get in and get a big score. If England are bowling again tomorrow, game on. If they bat all day, they win the Test.”
Australia opener David Warner: “It’s disappointing but they won the toss, bowled and had the conditions in their favour. They were patient and our top order got out to good balls. We’ll look to dismiss them for under 200 if possible.”
England’s leading Test run-scorer Alastair Cook: “Joe Root will be relieved. When you win the toss and bowl in these conditions people expect you to bowl them out cheaply. Up until Warner was out it wasn’t looking great. England have dragged themselves back into a dominant position.”
- Jofra Archer’s Test bowling average is currently 12.36.
- Merv Hughes is the only bowler to take a Test hat-trick spread over three overs (against West Indies at Perth, 1988). Archer can join him if he takes a wicket with his first ball in the second innings.
- Australia lost their last eight wickets for 43 runs; Bob Willis took 8-43 for England in the famous 1981 Headingley Ashes Test.