Sport Cricket England’s new cult hero puts Australia in Ashes trouble

England’s new cult hero puts Australia in Ashes trouble

England bowler Jofra Archer dismisses Pat Cummins to claim his first five-wicket haul on day one of the 3rd Ashes Test match. Photo: Getty
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England paceman Jofra Archer took six wickets as Australia was bowled out for 179 on day one of the third Ashes Test in Leeds.

In difficult batting conditions due to the overcast, gloomy weather, Australia was in a good position at 2-136, with David Warner (61) and Marnus Labuschagne (74) at the crease.

But Warner’s departure triggered a collapse that saw Australia lose its last eight wickets for just 43 runs, with Nathan Lyon becoming Archer’s sixth victim in the final over of a weather-impacted day.

There were delays for rain and bad light with just 52.1 overs bowled but that was still enough time for Archer (6-45) to steal the show.

And while he used the short ball with success at Lord’s, this was a very different sort of performance, the quick moving the ball and impressing by putting it in consistently good areas.

It was the sort of showing that suggested Archer will be a thorn in Australia’s side for many years to come and no one will be more relieved than England captain Joe Root, who won the toss and sent the tourists in to bat.

The first rain interval meant the start was delayed and when play did begin, it lasted just four overs before another stoppage.

Marcus Harris – who replaced the dropped Cameron Bancroft at the top of Australia’s order – did not make it through those four overs, though, caught behind off Archer for eight from the very last ball before play stopped.

Australia’s run of poor starts with the bat continued as Usman Khawaja (8) edged Stuart Broad (2-32) down the leg side and Warner was living a charmed life as he played and missed repeatedly, particularly against Broad.

By contrast, Labuschagne looked immediately comfortable, as another rain delay came at 2-39 before the players left the field for bad light at 2-54.

The suspensions of play could have easily messed with Warner but the longer he spent at the crease, the easier it became.

His movement at the crease sped up, his timing got better and he started to find the boundary as a man desperately out of form stepped up in the absence of the sidelined Steve Smith.

He had some luck, too, getting eight extra runs through overthrows, but Warner and Labuschagne’s quick running between the wickets put the pressure on England’s fielders.

The hosts got carried away with the movement on offer, too, and in their desperate search for a wicket, allowed the run-rate to quickly climb as Chris Woakes (1-51) and Ben Stokes (1-45) bowled poorly.

Warner and Labuschagne’s partnership passed 100 after just 124 deliveries but the former would soon depart, edging an excellent Archer ball to England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.

Travis Head was then bowled for a duck by a sublime Broad delivery and Matthew Wade did not trouble the scorers either.

Wade’s dismissal was cruel, an Archer ball hitting his body, his gloves and then into the base of leg stump with just enough force to remove the bail.

Australia had lost 3-3 in 2.2 overs and could not stop the momentum from there, Tim Paine (11) the next to fall, lbw to Woakes.

Archer could smell blood and then ran through Australia’s tail, dismissing the recalled James Pattinson (2), Pat Cummins (0) and Nathan Lyon (1) as Headingley roared, while Labuschagne fell in bizarre circumstances, surprised by a dipping Stokes full toss and trapped lbw.

It was an unfortunate way for an excellent innings to end but one look at Australia’s scorecard tells the story, with just two batsmen making more than 11 runs.

Simply too much was left to too few and improved weather conditions should mean England find it much easier to bat on day two, leaving Australia in an already difficult position.