England slumped from 166-2 to 200-5, trailing Australia by 297 runs, when bad light stopped play on day three of the fourth Ashes Test. The Steve Smith-inspired tourists left Joe Root’s side needing to be at their best to get any result out of this decisive Test at Old Trafford when declaring on 497-8.
England, who lost Joe Denly in the final hour of play on Thursday, resumed on 23-1 on Friday but were quickly two down when nightwatchman Craig Overton was caught by Smith from the bowling of Josh Hazlewood for just five runs. Root and Rory Burns stepped in to frustrate the Australian bowling attack as they put on a stand of 141 to take the score from 25-2 to 166 when Burns was dismissed by Hazlewood on 81 with Smith again taking the crucial catch.
That wicket was the catalyst for a mini-collapse as Hazlewood removed Root for lbw on 71 and made it 4-48 when he obliterated Jason Roy’s wickets as he returned to the pavilion on 22. Third Test hero Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow were unbeaten on seven and two respectively when bad light stopped play.
The duo will resume on Saturday looking to at least add another 98 runs to avoid the follow-on and give England any chance of securing a draw to give them hope of reclaiming the Ashes in next week’s final Test.