Sport Cricket The Ashes: England battling to avoid follow-on

The Ashes: England battling to avoid follow-on

Australia's Pat Cummins after a great day with the ball in England. Photo: Getty
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England were struggling to avoid the follow on as Australia’s bowlers took control of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

At lunch after 98 overs England were 8-278 having resumed at 5-200. The home side was still 20 away from avoiding the follow-on, with Jos Buttler on 26 and Stuart broad on 2.

Mitchell Starc has been the chief destroyer, prompting the rout after a near unplayable ball to Jonny Bairstow that went through him and smashed his stumps for 13.

Starc also had Ben Stokes caught by Steve Smith for 26.

On day three Pat Cummins had proven himself to be Australia’s ironman following a herculean effort with the ball.

The one-time injury-plagued quick, who is the only fast bowler in the Australian squad to play in all four Tests despite his involvement in the Cricket World Cup, reeled off a high quality 10-over spell for no reward on flat track either side of tea on Friday.

England are chasing Australia’s 8-497 declared and were still 81 runs away from avoiding the follow on.

Although it was Hazlewood (4-48) who broke the 141-run partnership between Rory Burns (81) and Joe Root (71), Cummins set the tone after England had dominated following lunch, hitting Mitchell Starc, who went for nearly four an over, out of the attack.

The 26-year-old deserved better figures than 0-22 from 10 overs and should have claimed the wicket of Root for 58 when he edged him through Tim Paine and David Warner at first slip.

“Patty rarely bowls a bad spell to be honest he was fantastic there in the evening session,” fellow bowler Josh Hazlewood said of Cummins.

“He could have had a catch that went between the keeper and first slip and is always at the batsmen.

“Front foot, back foot, he just gets better every time he bowls. It’s good to have him in your team.”

After making a stunning debut as a 19-year-old against South Africa in 2011, Cummins endured a series of injury setbacks that threatened to derail his career, something Hazlewood believes is very much a thing of the past.

“He had all that bad luck with injury through his teens, early 20s, and then he’s come out the other side,” he said.

“He’s always been a great athlete, I guess it was just a matter of time before that body hardened up and his bones hardened up.

“As a power and strength athlete, he’s fantastic and he’s got great endurance as well.

“He’s pretty much the all-round package.”

-with AAP