Ashes 2021-22: Analysis from Day 3 of the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground

Jonny Bairstow has brought up his hundred in the last over of Day 3 as England have ensured the Sydney Test will be a tight contest. LACHLAN McKIRDY analyses all the key storylines from the SCG.

DAY 3 STUMPS: England 7-258 (Bairstow 103*, Stokes 66, Boland 2-25) after 70 overs trail Australia by 158 runs

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Bairstow’s last-over century: Jonny Bairstow has brought up his second century in Australia and his seventh in Test cricket in the final over of an eventful day at the SCG. Coming to the crease with England at 4-36, Bairstow played a brilliant counter-attacking innings to keep England’s chances alive in Sydney.

Bairstow finishes the day on 103* off 140 balls and becomes the first Englishman to score a century this Ashes.

It is Bairstow’s first century at Test level since November 2018 where he scored a century against Sri Lanka in Colombo. It is also just his fourth score of 50+ since the start of 2019, a stretch in which he has played 20 times and batted in 37 innings.

If England can score 40 more runs on Day 4, it will be their highest innings total for the series. They are still yet to pass 300 in the Ashes, whereas Australia has passed 400 on three occasions.

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Bairstow braves the pain: Jonny Bairstow has produced England’s highest individual score of the series as he pushed through a finger injury on Day 3. Bairstow was struck on the thumb by a brute of a Pat Cummins delivery and showed immediate pain - requiring at least five minutes of medical assistance - before soldiering on.

Bairstow passes England’s previous highest individal score this series, Joe Root’s 89 in the second innings at the Gabba. He also became just the fourth England player to score a 50 this series.

For Bairstow, this is just the second time he has scored 50+ in Australia, the last time came when he scored a century at the WACA in 2019.

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Lyon traps Stokes, again: Nathan Lyon has finally broken England’s partnership after he trapped Ben Stokes plumb on his crease for 66. Stokes didn’t even wait for the umpire’s decision as he started walking off the field immediately.

It is the eighth-time Lyon has dismissed Stokes in Test cricket, only Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has claimed Stokes’ wicket more times (11).

There are only four batters who Lyon has dismissed in Test cricket more than the eight times he has Stokes. He has dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane 10 times and Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali nine times.

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TEA: England 4-135 (Stokes 52*, Bairstow 45*, Boland 2-25) after 46 overs trail Australia by 281 runs

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Upping the tempo: As Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow work together to bring England back into the game, the most impressive aspect of their partnership has been the rate with which they have scored their runs. As they reached the milestone of 90 runs at the crease together, they had scored the runs at 4.25 an over. When you consider the 15 consecutive dot balls the pair faced after lunch that is remarkable.

In only one other partnership where England batters have combined for 20 or more runs has the scoring rate been quicker. That was between Chris Woakes and Mark Wood in the first innings at the Gabba when they scored 22 runs in four overs at a rate of 5.5.

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English resistance: Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow have quietly put together a solid partnership on Day 3 as England look to recover from a horror morning. By the time the pair had made their way to a 62-run stand, the partnership was England’s third-highest for the series (between Joe Root and Dawid Malan’s two 100+ run stands).

The partnership certainly wasn’t without chances, with Stokes being dropped by Cummins and leaving one to hit the stumps, only for the bails to remain in place.

As Stokes brings up his half-century, it is far and away his best batting performance of the Ashes series so far. His previous best score was 34 in the first innings at the Gabba. It is also Stokes’ first career half-century at the SCG.

Stokes is also just the third English batter to score a half-century this series. Before his innings, only Joe Root (three times) and Dawid Malan (two times) had managed to pass 50 on this tour.

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Lyon in waiting: Nathan Lyon finally got a chance to bowl during the second session on Day 3 as England’s resistance grew. Lyon hadn’t been seen with ball in hand since England’s first innings on Boxing Day. In that time, Australia’s pacers have been the key destroyers, in particular Scott Boland with his eight wickets across the last two innings.

In the time since Lyon had last bowled against England, Australia had taken 14 wickets for 156 runs - an average of 11.14 runs per wicket.

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Would you like a dot with that?: Australia produced a remarkable spell of bowling either side of lunch to put the clamps on England’s efforts. England faced 70 consecutive dot balls, across 54 minutes, before finally getting a run off Scott Boland to advance their score.

It might seem like a lot but it’s still a long way off the record of the most consecutive dot balls of all time. That was 154 by Australia against Sri Lanka back in 2016 with Steve O’Keefe and Peter Nevill tried to bat out time for a draw.

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LUNCH: England 4-36 (Crawley 18, Hameed 6, Boland 2-0) after 21.5 overs trail Australia by 380 runs

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Boland’s charmed Test career: Scott Boland has continued exactly where he left off in Melbourne after taking the wicket of Zak Crawley in just his second over at the SCG. Boland was straight onto the money with his line and length, bowling two consecutive maidens to start his morning with figures of 1-0. He then continued that success by removing captain Joe Root for a duck two overs later to have figures of 2-0 after four overs.

After his heroics at the MCG, it means that Boland had taken eight wickets for just seven runs across his last eight overs of action. His Test bowling average also dropped to 6.11 after his first two and a bit innings. The 32-year-old is absolutely loving life wearing the baggy green.

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England’s top-order struggles: It’s been no secret just how much England’s batters have struggled on this tour, but in particular their openers have failed to give them any sort of platform to build a solid innings.

By the time Joe Root walked out to the SCG on Friday, England were 2-36 with Zak Crawley departing for 18. Through seven innings so far this Ashes, the best position England have been in at the fall of their second wicket is 2-61 in the second innings in Brisbane.

On average, England’s second wicket has fallen when they have only scored 27 runs throughout the series. Their first wicket partnerships have fared even more miserably, averaging less than 10 (9.57) by the time Australia get their first scalp of the innings.

England’s best partnership for their first two wickets was when Rory Burns and Dawid Malan combined for 44 runs in the final innings in Adelaide. Of the 14 partnerships England’s top three have combined for this series, only six have made it to double digits.

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Hameed’s horror tour continues: Despite being given an early life by Alex Carey on Day 3, English opener Haseeb Hameed was unable to make the most of it, departing soon after when Mitchell Starc cleaned up his stumps.

Through seven innings this tour, Hameed now averages 10.14 with the bat with a high score of 27 which he made in the second innings at the Gabba. In fact, the only two times he has made double figures this series were in Brisbane (he made 25 in the first innings). His career average now sits at 25.29 through 10 Tests.

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State of play: England have the perfect chance to find some consolation in this Ashes series as they look to build some momentum on Day 3. They survived a tricky period late on Day 2, just, to hold all 10 wickets in hand. Rain has delayed play on Friday with the first ball set to be bowled at 12.10pm AEDT, but with overcast conditions still around there should be plenty of life in the wicket for the bowlers.

For England, they have a pretty good batting record at the SCG. In their five first innings efforts since 2000, they average 360 with the bat. The last two times they have batted second at the SCG have produced complete opposites. In 2014, they were bowled out for 155 in under 60 overs as Australia marched towards a clean sweep of the series. While in 2011, England posted an incredible 644 on the back of centuries to Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Matt Prior.

There is also some solace for England going into this innings with Pat Cummins the only Australian bowler with a very strong Test record in Sydney. The Australian captain averages 23.23 with the ball at his home ground, whereas Nathan Lyon (40.94) and (42.50) fare considerably worse at the SCG.

Joe Root is again going to be the key man for England this match. He is already’s England’s top scorer in this series, but at the SCG the captain’s record has been quite good. In 2018, he had scores of 83 and 58* in Sydney - meaning his average currently sits at 141 at the SCG. Of course in his last innings in Sydney, Root was forced to retire due to dehydration and vomiting. On that day, the temperature in Sydney was well above 43 - it won’t get anywhere near that today.

Could this be the day he finally gets that century in Australia?

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STUMPS: England 0-13 (Hameed 2*, Crawley 2*) after five overs trail Australia 8-416d. (Khawaja 137, Smith 67, Broad 5-101) by 403 runs

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