Some big hitting by the lower order helped England reach 346 and a competitive first-innings total at lunch on the second day of the fifth Ashes test.
Despite losing their last specialist batsman, Dawid Malan early in the session to a spectacular Steve Smith catch, England’s tail wagged with both Tom Curran and Stuart Broad flaying the Australian bowlers in an entertaining session, punctuated by some poor fielding by the hosts.
Mason Crane was the last wicket to fall, run out in his test debut, just minutes before the scheduled lunch interval to end the innings.
The England players will be feeling more buoyant, though, than they would have been at 251-6 when Mitchell Starc teased Malan (62) into an edge which was caught one-handed by Smith diving low to his left at second slip.
Australia spurned easy opportunities to thwart England’s rally, including two dropped catches in the space of four balls to give both Tom Curran and Moeen Ali reprieves.
First, Pat Cummins dropped a straightforward chance at mid-on off the fourth ball of Nathan Lyon’s 32nd over to spare Curran when he was on 21. Hazlewood completely mis-timed his attempted catch off a skied Ali shot off Cummins’ first ball of the day when on 23.
Ali’s (30) reprieve was brief, with Cummins (4-86) having the allrounder caught behind shortly after to leave England at 294-7.
Stuart Broad and Curran, playing just his second test, combined to guide England past 300 in the 104th over and kept swinging the bat in an entertaining 41-run partnership. Curran’s fortune finally ended by popping a catch to Cameron Bancroft at short leg off Cummins for 39.
Broad made 31 off 32 balls with a boundary and two sixes before mis-timing a sweep shot to be caught by Smith off Lyon (1-86).
On day one, following a two-hour rain delay, England had slipped to 95-3 before Joe Root and Malan shared a 133-run partnership to frustrate Australia until a late flurry of wickets changed the momentum of the match as the tourists slipped to 233-5 at stumps.
Australia won the first three tests convincingly to regain the Ashes, and the fourth test was drawn last week in Melbourne.unb