Sport Cricket The Ashes: Australia escapes with Lord’s draw but gets bad news about Smith

The Ashes: Australia escapes with Lord’s draw but gets bad news about Smith

Super sub Marnus Labuschagne did a lot of heavy lifting on day five, after replacing Steve Smith. Photo: Getty
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Australia escaped from the second Ashes Test with a draw on a tense final day that also came with a dose of unfortunate news regarding Steve Smith.

When bad light forced a conclusion to play on day five, Australia was hanging on at 6-154 in a never likely pursuit of 267 runs for victory with Travis Head unbeaten on a gritty 42.

England had earlier declared its second innings on 5-258 after Ben Stokes’ brilliant 115 not out and the hosts are unlikely to face Smith in the third Test of the series, which begins in Leeds on Thursday.

Smith was officially withdrawn from the match on day five, making history as the first player substituted out of a Test under cricket’s new concussion rules.

Marnus Labuschagne replaced Smith and made a vital 59 in Australia’s second innings, a knock that showed he will be ready, if required, to play at Headingley.

And that seems likely after a Cricket Australia statement revealed Smith suffered “some deterioration” overnight following a nasty blow to the neck from a Jofra Archer bouncer on day four.

Smith, who was also hit on the forearm by Archer, was taken from the field for around 40 minutes but returned to bat, taking his score from 80 to 92 as he just missed out on a third successive century this series.

And for that reason his likely absence will be a massive boost to England.

“Cricket Australia statistics show that 30 per cent of concussions in Australian cricket are delayed. It is not uncommon for players to pass their tests and feel well on the day of an injury and then display symptoms 24-48 hours later,” the statement read.

“In terms of his availability for the next Test, it will be considered over the coming days but the short turnaround is not in his favour. He will be assessed on an ongoing basis.”

Speaking after the draw was confirmed, Australia captain Tim Paine was quizzed if Smith would play in Leeds: “I’m not sure. Obviously he’ll need to improve – there’s no doubt about that. Hopefully, for our sake, he does.

“[Steve] woke up not feeling his best today so the decision was made to leave him out … obviously it was a really nasty knock.”

Paine, who added his side were a “fair way off our best this Test match”, watched on as England took control of the clash on day five following another delay due to rain, a theme of the Lord’s Test.

The match was evenly poised overnight with England on 4-96, holding a lead of 104 runs, but Stokes and Jos Buttler (31) got through the opening session unscathed.

Survival was the initial aim and the pair were cautious as a result, adding 61 runs without any major scares up until lunch.

Pat Cummins (3-35) had Buttler out hooking to Josh Hazlewood shortly after play resumed but Stokes started to free his arms and was joined by an attacking-minded Jonny Bairstow (30 not out).

And the pair added 97 runs in just 14 overs, Stokes bringing up his seventh Test century in the carnage before England declared.

David Warner’s miserable Ashes series continued when he was dismissed by Archer for five and the debutant quickly added the scalp of Usman Khawaja, caught behind for two.

With Australia at 2-19, England had a sniff of victory and with Archer fired up and banging the ball into the deck, the home crowd were on the edge of their seats.

Labuschagne was felled by just the second ball he faced, too, unsurprisingly an Archer bouncer, but he dusted himself off and showed excellent fight as Australia got to tea at 2-46.

England needed eight wickets in the final session and left-arm spinner Jack Leach (3-37) got Bancroft in the first over after tea for 16.

But Labuschagne and Head steadied the ship with an ultimately crucial 85-run union for the fourth wicket.

It was absorbing cricket, Australia now trying to save the game, and Head should have been dismissed on 22, only for Jason Roy to drop a sitter at second slip.

Just when the game looked like petering out with Australia at 3-132, there was more drama in this action-packed Test, Labuschagne controversially given out after England captain Joe Root claimed a catch off the bowling of Leach.

Matthew Wade (1) and Tim Paine (4) soon fell cheaply as the prospects of a dramatic England victory rose but Head kept fighting and some late-order support from Cummins proved enough for Australia to keep its 1-0 series lead.

With just three Tests remaining in the series, England will need to win two of them to retain cricket’s famous urn.

But Archer provides his side with a different dynamic and England are unlikely to face its nemesis, Smith, in the third Test.

This Ashes series is well and truly alive.