Man of the moment Jofra Archer claimed a brilliant six-wicket haul at Headingley as England bundled Australia out for 179 on a rain-affected first day of the third Ashes Test.
Archer whipped up a frenzy of excitement with a thrilling debut performance in last week’s draw at Lord’s but was even more effective under murky skies in Leeds, claiming six for 45 as the tourists lost their last eight wickets for 43 in a transformative evening session.
Only 52.1 overs were possible as the weather wrecked the first half of the day but with David Warner’s dicey 61 and Marnus Labuschagne’s battling 74 the only knocks of any note, that was enough for Archer.
His first performance in England whites saw him crank the speed gun up past 96.1mph and clatter three different batsmen on the head but this was a subtler showing of cerebral seam bowling.
Not once breaching the 90mph barrier and using the short ball sparingly, he instead probed away in more traditional areas, harvesting four outside edges and a deflection into the stumps to toast a maiden five-wicket haul.
Returning to send down the final over of the day and Australia nine down, he capped a thrilling performance by pinning last man Nathan Lyon lbw.
After a frustrating 70 minutes waiting for play to start a sliver of a session – just four overs – was deemed possible between rain showers.
Luckily for England it culminated in a wicket, Archer shaving the bat of recalled opener Marcus Harris with one that demanded a shot then kicked off a length.
That was the end of a brief and uncomfortable stay from Harris, brought in to replace Cameron Bancroft and supposedly stiffen the top of the order.
Harris made just eight but might easily have outlasted his partner Warner, who was beaten on the outside edge five times in Stuart Broad’s first two overs as the veteran circled his prey from round the wicket.
A rejigged afternoon session got under way in equally friendly bowling conditions and Warner’s struggles immediately continued, Broad angling in and seaming away as the combative left-hander repeatedly lunged in the forlorn hope of meaningful contact.
In his first 25 deliveries Warner had played and missed 11 times, edged past slip and survived an lbw shout. And yet, he outlived another team-mate. Usman Khawaja was next man down for eight, feathering a rare loose delivery from Broad down the leg-side to give him a richly-deserved wicket in unexpected circumstances.
New man Labuschagne, again stepping in for the concussed Steve Smith, struggled in his first exchanges with Archer, beaten twice on nought and also leaving a ball that nipped in and just missed the stumps before another rain delay.
A blink-and-you-miss-it session spell of 19 balls was all that followed before the umpires took the unpopular decision to take the players off for bad light after 18 overs, to the evident frustration of the ticket-buying public.
With conditions brightening up play resumed with Australia 54 for two and ready to lay into change bowlers, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes.
In the space of 11 overs the pair shipped 70 runs, including 40 in boundaries, Warner visibly growing in confidence with every clean connection and Labuschagne offering willing support.
There was too much width, too little control and even a pair of overthrow fives to usher Warner along. Even so he was not yet at his snarling best, with the shot that took him to 50 spraying unintentionally over backward point off Stokes and and the hundred partnership coming from a badly executed uppercut.
The game was nonetheless slipping until Root called back his strike bowlers, who took the next three wickets for three runs.
Archer finally proved that Warner’s bat did indeed have an edge, going a fraction straighter and generating just enough off the pitch to hand Bairstow his third catch.
Australia’s next two batsman bagged ducks as England made it three wickets for three runs, Travis Head was unpicked by a sumptuous Broad delivery and Matthew Wade bowled by Archer via thigh pad and glove.
There was partial redemption for Woakes and Stokes, who returned to win lbws against Tim Paine and Labuschagne respectively. The latter had carved out a dogged and important top-scoring effort before departing in ignominious fashion, losing a full toss from Stokes, being knocked to the deck and learning his fate while on all fours.
But this was Archer’s story. He picked up his fourth when James Pattinson sent a booming nick to Root at head height and made it five for the first time in international cricket when Pat Cummins feathered another tester in the channel.
Root briefly withdrew his star man before offering him the final over of the day, Archer needing a solitary ball to get the better of Lyon.News Now - Sport News