Australia is six wickets away from a 2-0 series lead, with England hoping for another Ben Stokes miracle heading into a dramatic final day of the Lord’s Test.
But Pat Cummins’ men might have already won the Bazball battle, after forcing England away from their ‘entertainment-over-winning’ mentality on a controversial day four of the second Test.
Stokes resumed unbeaten on 29, with Ben Duckett on 50 having survived a controversial catch ruling and England 4-141 in pursuit of the 371 target.
9.35PM: BATTLE-WEARY STOKES PUTS BODY ON LINE
Ben Stokes is taking a battering here – with a Pat Cummins short-ball sneaking through his defences, and striking the skipper on the unprotected back elbow.
That. Would. Hurt.
But he knows this partnership with Jonny Bairstow is the key – and of that, he knows how vital his wicket is.
He’s giving no quarter to Australia, and they’re responding in kind.
Bairstow has been active since arriving at the crease, with two boundaries from his first 11 balls.
England’s required runs has dropped to 180. How close do these two need to get before they can be confident in the tail to finish the job?
9.15PM: WICKET! DRINKS DELIVERS THE BREAKTHROUGH
There’s the breakthrough Australia have been searching for – and it comes the over after the drinks break.
A break for a drink, a break in concentration – and a break in England’s impervious start to today’s run chase.
The short ball does the trick again, Josh Hazlewood with a legside bumper. Ben Duckett can’t control the hook, and feathers a really tough chance to Alex Carey who takes an excellent catch high above his head.
What a series Carey is having.
Duckett departs for 83, a second brilliant knock this Test. England are 5-177, requiring a further 194 runs.
9.10PM: DRINKS: ENGLAND START STRONG, 197 RUNS REQUIRED
A perfect opening 70 minutes for England, it must be said.
The partnership between these two has grown to 129, and Ben Stokes has passed 50 while Ben Duckett is clawing his way towards a maiden Ashes century.
He was cruelly denied on 98 in the first innings, and there’s a dogged determination in him to right some wrongs on that front.
And the runs required have dipped below 200.
Australia’s attack has been tentative – flirting with adopting the short-ball strategy that worked so well for England, without fully committing.
Mitchell Starc has been the pick of the bowlers, with some healthy shouts for LBW.
They know one wicket could be enough to break this England team open – but don’t look like they know where it might come from.
How much would Pat Cummins like to throw the ball to Nathan Lyon right now?
8.45PM: PONTING RESPONDS TO UPSET LYON
Test great Ricky Ponting has moved to clarify comments around Nathan Lyon and the concussion substitute rule that rankled the Australian spin great.
Lyon lashed out after play on day four, taking aim at Kevin Pietersen for suggesting he would be eligible to be subbed out– and replaced by back-up spinner – Todd Murphy should he be concussed during his brave effort to bat, despite suffering from a torn calf.
Lyon’s last-wicket partnership delivered 15 crucial runs for Australia, and Lyon took umbrage at the suggestion Australia had left him open to be replaced in the fourth innings by Murphy.
“I have heard comments that people thought I went out there to get hit in the head and I’m really against that because I’ve lost one of my mates due to being hit in the head. So I think that’s a really poor excuse or conversation being had,” Lyon said.
Lyon was on the field when Phillip Hughes was fatally killed by a bouncer at the SCG in 2014.
Early on day five, Ponting took the chance to speak on behalf of the commentary team for comments he felt had been misrepresented.
“In no way at all were any of us saying that it would be good to see Nathan Lyon get hit in the head and have (to be replaced),” Ponting said.
“In fact it was the other, it was almost the worst-case scenario for England. If they continued to bowl short and Nathan was hit.
“I just wanted to clarify that because there has been some negative chat around this morning which has probably been a little bit unfair.
“By no means, no way at all, would anyone every want to see anyone get hit in the head.”
8.30PM: STOKES ESCAPES WITH VITAL DRS CALL
Déjà vu, anyone?
Ben Stokes survives after correctly reviewing an LBW decision having been given out.
Mitchell Starc with an excellent delivery, pitched up and swinging devilishly and hitting Stokes on the toe.
The England captain wheels away in pain, and doesn’t even need to turn around to know he’s been given out and needs to review – he does that based on Australia’s celebrations.
But there’s a thick inside edge, and that saves the England captain.
Australia not having luck with reviews… Ben Stokes playing a seemingly desperate counterattacking knock… when does this start to feel a little *too* Headingley for Pat Cummins and his teammates?
8.15PM: STOKES READY TO TURN SUPERHERO ONCE MORE
Ben Duckett may be unbeaten on 57, but it is Ben Stokes has the hopes of a nation on his shoulders.
He’s just punched out consecutive boundaries off Mitchell Starc, and suddenly the Lord’s crowd is getting involved in the contest.
With every boundary, every single, England’s belief will grow.
They’ve enjoyed some superb runchases in the Bazball era, and before that, too, such as Stokes’ Headingley heroics.
They’ve been largely written off, and after 15 minutes on the final morning still trail by 241 with six wickets in hand.
But today is a sell-out at Lord’s. And the crowd will be a factor, especially if nerves memories start to infiltrate the minds of the Australians.
8PM: DAY FIVE IS UNDERWAY
Ben Duckett and Ben Stokes have a crucial first hour here – if they can weather the early storm from Australia’s quicks, how soon will it be before the horrors of Headingley start to creep back into the minds of the tourists?
Mitchell Starc will open the bowling, and some clouds have just appeared over Lord’s – not rain-bearing clouds, we hope. But could potentially be welcomed by the Australian quicks.
Australia are rated by CricViz as an 85 per cent chance of victory. But WinViz can be a fickle beast.
7.45PM: GLORIOUS LONDON WEATHER FOR FINAL DAY
In case you were wondering, poor weather shouldn’t be a factor for either team tonight.
It’s understood there’s no chance of rain – something, to be fair, you can never say with confidence – and a full day of sunshine awaits.
In theory that should make for good batting conditions, but this fifth day wicket is sure to have a few more gremlins than it did over the first four days.
7.30PM: HISTORY ON THE LINE FOR ENGLAND
A brief reminder of what is on the line for England today – and it’s not just a giant hole in this Ashes series.
It would be the first time in 15 years that England have lost consecutive Tests on home soil, and the first time since the 2001 series that they’ve lost the opening two Ashes Tests at home.
2001, of course, being the last time that Australia won a series in England.
They have 257 more runs to pull off one of the more famous Ashes victories.
Does Ben Stokes have one more superhuman performance in him?
7.00PM: BAZBALL OR BORE BALL: WHAT HAPPENED TO ENGLAND’S ENTERTAINERS?
At some point this Test, Bazball died.
There can be no other explanation for why England persisted with the tedious short-pitched bowling that sucked the life out of the contest on day four.
Australia’s runscoring was stifled, and England slowly twisted their way back into the contest on the back of an 8-92 collapse.
But, as noted by the UK Telegraph’s Will Macpherson, “an antidote to Bazball had been found.”
The relentless bouncer barrage, with every ball in a given over, was the exact opposite of what England have boldly declared they care about most: entertainment over winning.
There was very little entertaining about the hour after lunch, when just 17 runs were scored as Alex Carey and Cameron Green ducked short ball after short ball.
Until the final ball before the drinks break, when Cameron Green’s patience finally ran out, they had no intention of chasing the hook and pull with England loading the boundary with fielders like it was the 30th over of a one-day game.
The parochial, and largely local-heavy, crowd at Lord’s was silent. They were not entertained.
Ben Stokes bowled himself into the ground, limping through his eighth over on busted knees before somehow willing his body for four more, so determined was he to continue the Bodyline tactic.
CricViz’s data showed that England’s bowling in the morning session had an average delivery length of 9.71m from the batter – the shortest length in any Test session since records began in 2006.
The afternoon session was even worse: with an average length of 11.05m, and at one point Australian great Ricky Ponting pointed out in commentary the last full-pitched delivery in the match had been bowled 2.5 hours prior.
It was followed up by another half hour of more of the same.
There was no doubting it’s effectiveness, of course. Upon it’s introduction, Australia’s runs immediately dried up. From there, Australia were limited to 279 and England presented with a gettable target – albeit a record-setting one.
It was cricket: but it certainly wasn’t Bazball.
6.00PM: WILL AUSSIES REGRET GUTSY LYON CALL?
Injured Australia star Nathan Lyon insisted he had no regrets about risking further damage to his torn calf during his extraordinary innings at Lord’s on Saturday.
Lyon had been unable to take part in the second Test since suffering what looks certain to be a series-ending calf injury while fielding on Thursday.
But the off-spinner made a remarkable cameo appearance towards the conclusion of Australia’s second innings.
With Australia desperate to set England as challenging a target as possible, Lyon agreed to effectively bat on one leg.
Unable to walk properly, Lyon hopped down the Pavilion steps before slowly limping onto the pitch.
The 35-year-old’s gutsy effort could prove vital to Australia’s hopes of winning the second Test.
He hit one four and stuck around for 13 balls in a last-wicket partnership of 15 with Mitchell Starc before being caught by Ben Stokes off Stuart Broad.
Lyon departed to a standing ovation and, although the veteran bowler clearly put his health on the line, he was adamant he would do the same thing again to help the reigning world Test champions.
“I will do anything for this team. I knew the risks. It was my call. I wanted to bat,” Lyon said.
“You never know how big a 15-run partnership can be in an Ashes series.
“I was proud of myself but if it was tomorrow I would do it again. I love this team.”
Originally published as Ashes 2023: Follow all the action from the final day of the Lord’s test between Australia and England