Another cliffhanger in Headingley, Leeds, as England, for the second straight time in four years, came out victorious against Australia in the Ashes at this venue. Chris Woakes and Mark Wood – two players who returned to England’s Test side after a considerable gap, accounted for wickets and runs, most importantly, the ones after set-in Harry Brook departed in the final innings, to help England win the third Test and stay alive in Ashes 2023.
However, the protagonists were different this time, as Harry Brook was the latest to make it big for England when the team needed someone the most. The young right-hander, already touted as a star, held his nerves and played a Stokes-like inning (in 2019) to help England remain relevant in home Ashes despite Bazball suffering another hit.
Chasing 224 on day four of the third Test, England openers looked determined to deliver sooner than expected. While they were well on course to achieving what they were out there for, Mitchell Starc had different plans. The left-arm quick first dismissed Ben Duckett trapped in front and then clean bowled Moeen Ali off a Jaffa to put England under some pressure.
Zak Crawley, who didn’t look like putting a foot wrong, edged one to the keeper Carey, while experienced Joe Root suffered the same fate off Pat Cummins on 21. Even a modest target of 251 looked daunting for the hosts – who, before the start of the series, vowed to stick with the ultra-attacking style of theirs irrespective of results.
Wood, Woakes does it for England
With four down, England feared the worse, but two players with nerves of steel – Captain Ben Stokes and Brook, took proceedings in their hands and went for the chase. Stokes, who played perhaps the greatest Test innings of all time four years ago against the same opponent at this venue, got out early after tea to Starc, who, in no time, dismissed Jonny Bairstow, bowled on just five.
Woakes joined Brook in the middle as the two started building a partnership. With each scoring shot, England was nearing the target; but there was another twist in the tale. Cummins recalled Starc to the attack, and the seasoned campaigner picked the big fish in Brook on 75 to further derail England’s chances of staying alive in the Ashes.
That, however, was Australia’s last high point in the day, as the pair of Woakes and Wood kept things under control and completed the run chase with three wickets in hand.
Thanks to this win, the Ashes 2023 score line now reads 2-1 in favour of Australia, while the fourth Test begins on July 19 at Old Trafford in Manchester.
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