|First LV = Insurance Ashes Test, Edgbaston (day three of five)|
|England 393-8 Dec (Root 118*; Lyons 4-149) & 28-2 (Duckett 19, Boland 1-1)|
|Australia 386 (Khawaja 141, Carey 66; Broad 3-68, Robinson 3-55)|
|England lead by 35 runs|
England were hit by a double strike from Australia in a devastating 21-minute period before rain ruined day three of the first Ashes Test.
Only 22 balls were possible after 14:15 BST at Edgbaston, but in that time Australia were on the rise under slate gray skies and floodlights, taking two wickets for two runs.
Ben Duckett pushed Pat Cummins into the gully where Cameron Green made a typical catch and a shuffling Zak Crawley left Scott Boland behind.
Joe Root was also the subject of criticism from Cummins before the second and final heavy shower of the day allowed England to pull away 28-2 and 35.
All of this came after England weathered the dry morning comfortably, running through the bottom tier of Australia and securing a seven-run lead in the first inning.
After Usman Khawaja was passed by another ingenious plan by Ben Stokes and bowled by Ollie Robinson for 141, Australia lost their last four wickets for 14 runs and were sent off for 386.
Robinson and Stuart Broad rebounded at the end, finishing with three wickets each.
A total of 47.3 overs were lost to rain, with more forecast for Tuesday’s fifth day. The wet weather, tough pitch and clash of styles all contribute to an exciting conclusion to an exciting series opener.
The wet Sunday is still full of action
Fewer than 33 overs were possible on a wet Sunday in Birmingham, but there was still time for exciting and dramatic Test cricket.
England put on an excellent performance in the morning session, capitalizing on Australia’s lack of intention to execute some carefully crafted plans to perfection and excite the wild Hollies grandstand.
But the Australian passivity disappeared in the small window between the rain showers, which arrived as predicted after lunch.
With the ball nibbling harder than ever before in play, Australia made the harmless ground seem fraught with danger. England were lucky and came out of the game just two behind.
Monday is likely to be dry, but rain forecast for Tuesday will influence a possible declaration by England – if they wait long enough for the luxury.
There is a suspicion that the pitch will deteriorate and change, which in theory will help Moeen Ali. However, the England off-spinner has a bad cut on his spinning finger which affected his bowling on Sunday morning.
Australia rises under slate gray skies
When England returned at 3:30 p.m. after a 75-minute rain delay, Duckett and Crawley had everything to lose and nothing to gain. The clouds provided perfect conditions for Aussie pace bowlers who knew they could give their best on a short, sharp throw.
As the field staff braced themselves, Cummins ran the ball well over the goal post and left-hander Duckett, as is his habit, pushed for the ball. Green, building a catalog of good gully catches, dove low to grab the ball with his left hand.
For the first time in the Test, Australia played with classic Aussie aggression. The boundary sweepers, used throughout England’s first innings, were eliminated in favor of four catchers.
In the next over, Boland caught Crawley for the second time of the match, again with a beauty kissing the edge en route to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. England had lost two wickets in four balls without runs.
In their excitement, Australia cried out to Boland for a LBW decision against Root, then a review by Cummins found there was no advantage when Root was off the field.
Neither Root nor Ollie Pope had managed to hit the mark as the merciful onset of torrential rain at 15:51 sent England into the sanctuary of the dressing room.
England flashes passive Australians
311-5 overnight, 82 adrift, Australia were narrow favorites to take the lead, benefiting from James Anderson’s first over of the day – wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow’s third miss of the inning – knocking Carey down from the inside edge became.
Though Carey was bowled through for 66, giving Anderson his 1,100. first-class wicket, Australia conceded 44 in the first eight overs of the day, largely because the injured Moeen bowled poorly. When Moeen, who turned 36 on Sunday, retired, Australia faltered and England tumbled.
Khawaja hit 15 runs in almost 100 minutes of batting, six of which came in one shot ahead of Moeen. Though slow in progress, the left-hander was the barrier between England and a lead.
Then came another ingenious Stokes plan. First, Khawaja faced four catchers on the leg side, then three on either side. Maybe he was expecting a cutter or trying to squeeze the ball through the offside, but he made space and was hit by Robinson’s impaled Yorker.
Roaring in triumph, Robinson converted from the bowler who struggled on day two. He joined forces with Broad for a short-ball plan to the end that will surely set the tone for the rest of the series.
Nathan Lyon hooked the deep square leg, Boland struggled feebly to the stupid point and Cummins failed in the middle of the wicket. Australia lost its last four wickets in 22 deliveries.