The Ashes series – Test cricket’s ultimate showdown – heads into the third encounter at Headingley. Can England square the ledger with Steve Smith sidelined?
History: Played 348: Australia 145 V England 108 (95 Draws)
Last meeting: August 14-18, 2019: Draw at Lord’s
Final Thoughts: Australia take a 1-0 lead into the third Ashes Test at Headingley following a draw at Lord’s. But despite the stalemate in the rain-hampered second Test, there was no shortage of drama.
England was dismissed for 258 in the first innings, with Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins and the recalled Josh Hazlewood taking three wickets each. First Test man-of-the-match Steve Smith was in the middle of another Australian rescue mission when he was sickeningly felled by a bouncer from debutant Jofra Archer. Smith heroically returned to the field and top-scored with 92 as the tourists reached 250.
Ben Stokes’ sparkling 115* underpinned England’s 5/258 declared in their second dig. Smith’s replacement, Marnus Labuschagne (59), and Travis Head (42*) ensured Australia closed out a draw on 6/154.
A concussed Smith has been ruled out of this Test. Labuschagne is the obvious option to come in after his impressive rearguard effort at Lord’s. But the acid is really on Australia’s openers: David Warner has scored a measly 18 runs in four innings, while Cameron Bancroft’s high score in the series is 16.
Headingley has been a happy hunting ground for Australia, winning four of their last five Tests at the venue – including innings victories in two of the last three Ashes clashes there.
But this is the first Leeds-hosted Ashes Test since 2009. England have managed just three wins and a draw from their last 10 Headingley Tests against all nations.
The rise of Archer and Smith’s injury absence has rocketed England into $1.62 favouritism for this pivotal showdown. Australia desperately need Warner – by far the best-credentialled batsman in the visitors’ line-up – to stand tall.