If Australia is to win the Ashes in England for the first time since 2001, as now appears likely, day two in Leeds will be the day that is talked about for decades. It was the day that England crumbled. It was the day that Josh Hazlewood thrived.
Hazlewood snared 5-30 from 12.5 overs, just reward for his impeccable line and length, and was the chief destroyer as England were incredibly skittled for just 67.
Australia’s day one total of 179 looked meagre, particularly when glorious sun baked the Headingley wicket before the start of play, but England failed to make the most of the conditions in the most spectacular, record-breaking fashion.
This was England’s lowest score against Australia since 1948 and second lowest in an Ashes Test in more than 100 years, with just one player reaching double figures for the hosts.
And Joe Denly’s 12 was so bad and so fortunate that he might have even been relieved to be dismissed, given it ended his embarrassment.
Australia again lost early wickets in response but scrapped its way to 6-171 at stumps, Marnus Labuschagne leading the way with his third half-century in succession since replacing Steve Smith as a concussion substitute in the Lord’s Test.
Labuschagne finished on 53 not out and carried the tourists to a position of strength at stumps, Australia now leading by 283 runs.
Smith’s absence from the third Test could have so easily been series-defining but Labuschagne’s composure and grit has been particularly impressive and suggests he is a player with a very bright future.
A century on day three would be richly deserved, if the tail can bat with him for long enough, and Australia will prolong England’s misery by batting for as possible. Time is not an issue with the match so advanced and the excellent forecast for the remainder of the Test.
If Australia is to win the Test, it will take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series with just two clashes remaining.
Australia holds cricket’s famous urn and only needs to draw the series to retain it, meaning Leeds success will ensure England cannot win the Ashes.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) August 23, 2019
Hazlewood started his trail of destruction with the wicket of Roy, who edged to David Warner at first slip for nine.
It was to be a common theme of the morning session, Warner taking four catches before lunch, a superb effort given he usually fields in the outfield and moved into the slips cordon to replace Smith.
His second catch saw Joe Root depart for a duck, the sixth time in Test cricket the England skipper has been dismissed by Hazlewood.
Pat Cummins (3-23) also bowled superbly and struck for the first time when Rory Burns (9) gloved a short ball down the leg side and Ben Stokes then threw his wicket away, chasing a wide James Pattinson (2-9) delivery.
Denly, who played and missed on countless occasions, soon became Pattinson’s second victim and England was rocking at 6-45 when Warner took a sensational diving catch to remove Jonny Bairstow for four.
Some form of England revival was expected but Cummins got Chris Woakes from the very first ball after lunch, caught behind for five, and Hazlewood took his fourth scalp when Jos Buttler (5) departed in the next over.
Jofra Archer was then given a dose of his own medicine with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries and one of them got him out, the England speedster fending a simple catch to wicketkeeper Tim Paine when trying to avoid a Cummins bouncer.
It was fitting that Hazlewood wrapped up the innings, bowling Jack Leach for one, as the man left out of the first Test took his seventh five-wicket haul.
The gloomy mood around Headingley only increased when Marcus Harris ominously crunched the second ball of Australia’s second dig for four but he lost his opening partner in the next over, Warner dismissed by Broad for the fourth time this series, lbw for a duck.
Harris was bowled by Leach’s first ball for 19 and when Usman Khawaja fell for 23, the crowd found its voice, Australia reduced to 3-52.
Archer – who later went off with cramp in his left thigh – cranked up the speed in an unsuccessful bid to unsettle Labuschagne but it was Stokes who nearly had his wicket, Root dropping a sitter at first slip when the in-form batsman was on just 14.
Stokes (2-33) bowled his heart out in a terrific spell and dismissed Travis Head for 25 before a 66-run partnership between Labuschagne and Matthew Wade (33) appeared to take the game away from England.
There was still time for Stokes to strike before stumps, though, Wade falling four overs before the conclusion, and Broad got Paine for a duck shortly after.
Labuschagne is still at the crease, though, and if Australia can find a way to increase its lead to 350 runs, it should be on the verge of retaining the Ashes.