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Broad and Archer tear into Australia’s top order after England avoid follow-on
England were bowled out for 301 midway through the afternoon session.
Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer tore into Australia’s top order after England narrowly avoided the follow-on as the fourth Ashes Test advanced swiftly on day four at Old Trafford.
England were bowled out for 301 midway through the afternoon session, a first-innings deficit of 196 that only just denied Australia the chance to send them back in.
The tourists would then have targeted quick runs to maximise their lead but England’s new-ball pair seized the moment in style to leave them 63 for four at tea – 259 in front.
Crucially, the peerless Steve Smith was unbeaten on 19.
The day began with England 200 for five with the hero of Headingley, Ben Stokes, charged with producing another special innings in adversity.
He began promisingly, leaving wisely and getting started with a dominant pull off Pat Cummins, but the game changed when Australia got their hands on the new ball after six overs.
They entrusted it to Mitchell Starc, a disappointment on day two but much improved with a fresh, swinging Dukes at his disposal.
Stokes almost played on then saw a caught and bowled chance put down as Starc followed through but his partner, Jonny Bairstow, enjoyed no such luck.
With 17 to his name he saw his stumps scattered by an inswinging yorker, paying the price for the chasm he left between bat and pad.
Stokes attempted to get the resistance going, top-edging a hook for four, but it was not to be. One tentative push at Starc was all it took, a healthy nick carrying to Steve Smith at second slip.
His latest attempt at digging England out of a sizeable hole had faltered, but Jos Buttler was on hand to take the follow-on off the table.
He got off the mark with an uppish drive that briefly had the interest of Matthew Wade at short cover, and responded to Archer’s soft dismissal by setting off a seven-ball sequence that saw him hit three boundaries while a Cummins wide sailed through for five.
Buttler was on his way to 41, his best score of a disappointing series, but the primary goal was reaching the follow-on mark of 298. Stands of 27 with Broad and 18 with Jack Leach allowed him to get there with a flourish through cover.
Leach would have been lbw seven runs short but Australia had once again squandered their reviews. Buttler was last man out, losing his middle stump to a gem from Cummins.
England were just as precise after the changeover, with David Warner once again bullied by Broad. It was a clear lbw that did for him, his sixth dismissal by Broad in eight innings, his second duck of the match and his third in succession.
Marcus Harris departed in similar fashion, Broad on a roll from round the wicket, and Archer made it three leg before decisions in a row when he pinned Marnus Labuschagne in front for 11 – his first dismissal under 50 in five knocks.
The best was yet to come, Archer uprooting Travis Head’s middle stump during a speedy spell before the interval left both sides to gather their thoughts.