Australia survives 155 from Stokes to lead the Ashes series 2-0

Australia lead the Ashes with 2-0

Australia overcame an incredible century from Ben Stokes, who had been enraged by the debatable stumping of Jonny Bairstow, to win by 43 runs at Lord’s and take a 2-0 lead in the Ashes.

After a fiercely contested but relatively low-key final day, controversy and raw emotion broke out when Bairstow left his crease after dodging a bouncer from Cameron Green in the 52nd over, leading to Alex Carey throwing down the stumps. Australia filed an appeal, and the third umpire upheld the ruling that Bairstow was clearly out of bounds.

The game was then played out in a tense atmosphere where Australia was continuously jeered by a full final-day crowd and MCC members had to be reminded about their behavior after incidents when the players left the field for lunch, in scenes unlike any seen at this ground, even in its long history of epic matches.

England needed 178 when Bairstow was removed from the game. After that, Stokes launched an assault on Australia’s bowling, putting together a 108-run partnership with Stuart Broad in just 21 overs that featured nine sixes. 

When Steven Smith fumbled a chance at deep square leg, he was awarded a life on position 114. If it’s conceivable, this was Headingley 2019 on steroids. England reached a position when they appeared to be the favorites, which frightened Australia.

However, Stokes top-edged Josh Hazlewood into the off side with 70 runs still required right after the afternoon refreshment break. The bottom order gave in to the short ball, with both Ollie Robinson and Broad hooking into the deep. It was too much for them. 

Before Mitchell Starc was able to get one at the leg stump as Josh Tongue made way, he and James Anderson held on for a while, teasing the unbelievable potential of a last twist.

England faced a tough 257 run going into the fifth day, but Stokes and Ben Duckett made significant headway as they put up a fifth-wicket stand of 132. If only everyone knew what was in store, all the talk before the game even started was about Duckett’s reprieve the previous evening to Starc’s catch at fine leg.

Stokes reached his first half-century since the Old Trafford Test against South Africa last year, and Duckett was getting close to three figures for the second time in the game when he top-edged an opportunity to Carey, who brilliantly caught it with one hand above his head to continue a fine series behind the stumps. His primary role in the drama, though, was about to start.

After five overs, chaos broke out. Bairstow, as he so frequently does, let a ball through to the wicketkeeper, quickly tapped his back foot into the crease, and then went out of his area. Carey quickly gathered and under-armed at the stumps after the ball barely touched him. 

As Stokes and Bairstow surrounded the umpires, Australia quickly erupted in cheers. The ball was not ruled to be dead by the third umpire, Marais Erasmus, and Pat Cummins did not see a reason to withdraw the appeal.

England was obviously upset when Broad joined Stokes in the middle. From the time he took guard, Broad was in the face of the Australian fielders. Stokes, who was undoubtedly angry, used his frustration to produce one of the most breathtaking feats of ball-striking Lord’s has ever seen.

In Green’s following over, he extended his lead with three straight sixes, the second of which Starc palmed over the rope at long leg. He first tore into Green with three boundaries in an over through the leg side. With the third of them, he finished with a score of 100 off of 142 balls, and there was hardly any celebration; only a brief bat-raising gesture was made in acclaim.

A few overs before the players left for lunch, the fifty-run partnership was reached. David Warner and Broad fought as they exited the field, and soon after, video of an altercation involving MCC members and the Australian players in the Long Room surfaced. Later, Cricket Australia said that there had been physical contact, and MCC expressed regret.

Was the situation going to get any better after the 40-minute break? Stokes fired the first ball of the afternoon session over long-on, and a sprawling Smith was unable to catch the top edge, causing him to be spilt two deliveries later. 

Stokes generally attempted to farm the strike, but every now and then he was glad to give Broad a few balls to face. Stokes added to the electric atmosphere by dragging Hazlewood through the leg side to end an over in which he had already hit two more sixes.

As memories of Headingley flooded in at every turn, Hazlewood was removed from the assault following a three-over spell that cost 30. After Nathan Lyon’s leg injury on day two, Cummins decided against throwing the ball to Travis Head since he had no frontline spin to fall back on.

Prior to a summit amongst Australia’s top players, Green returned to the attack and bowled two solid overs that only cost three runs. Stokes took another pair of sixes over the leg side, this time from Starc.

Stokes was surrounded by nine fielders for Australia at this point, and the boundaries stopped coming in. Six overs yielded nine runs. Hazlewood came back, Stokes swiped across the line, and Carey positioned himself beneath the grab. 

Fielders from Australia fled from every angle of the playing surface. In the nick of time, Stokes had been stopped. Even though they had the Ashes in hand, both countries will undoubtedly be affected by the events of the final day at Lord’s for some time to come.