Key events

Dave Briggs emails in with a lunchtime theory entitled The Aussies are the Mourinho of cricket

“Am working on a theory on this ashes series. Is there an argument that the Aussies are starting to take this personally, and it’s turning into almost a Guardiola v Mourinho situation. Mourinho was so infuriated with the adulation etc for the style of Guardiola’s teams that it made him revert into almost a pastiche of himself.

“Could it be argued that the Aussies are so annoyed by all the talk of Bazball that they are trying to win as boringly as possible, almost to prove a point? And as a result it’s that inflexibility that’s led them to a position where a series they ought to have won easily hasn’t gone to plan.

Whaddya reckon?”

It’s an interesting thought. Look, the whole side of Bazball that comes with the self-aggrandising ‘we’re here to save Test cricket’ thing must be aggravating to those on the outside, I totally get that. Watching this current England side is everything from exciting to frustrating, invigorating to cringe-worthy. To play against, that must go up tenfold. I think Australia have been looking to play their normal game and it served them well, particularly in the first two Test matches where they dug in whilst expecting England to self-implode and that is what happened.

Since Lord’s I do think they have suffered from being too passive, their field settings being ultra-defensive is one thing but batting without intent will get you into trouble time and again. Marnus’ innings yesterday was a case in point – it was a puzzling knock from a player of his undoubted quality. We’ll see what happens here, a few quick wickets and Australia are right back in it – my take is that since Lord’s they’ve been playing like a side who have something to lose (i.e a 2-0 lead) rather than a side hell-bent on winning. That slight raising of the foot off the gas has allowed England back in.

The Chanel 9 team being very hard on the Australians. Not sure they are used to other teams taking it to Australia and are over compensating!

— Ciaron Murphy (@CiaronMurphy4) July 29, 2023

“Sitting on a balcony observing the Aegean is a good counterpoint to the stress that accompanies Bazball.”

Show off, Nick Cotton!

“Is it wrong to say I have a good feeling about this innings!? Everything crossed for Ben to get 100 this afternoon…”

2⃣5⃣ overs
1⃣3⃣0⃣ runs
1⃣7⃣ boundaries
1⃣1⃣8⃣ run lead

See the best of the day’s play so far 👇

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 29, 2023

LUNCH: England 130-1

Stokes plays out five dots before taking a single off Starc’s final delivery. That’s the session. Phew. England’s morning emphatically – they lost Duckett for 42 but Crawley has been mightily impressive once more on the back of his Old Trafford mega-ton. Australia head off for a sarnie and to lick their wounds.

25th over: England 130-1 (Crawley 71, Stokes 12)

24th over: England 129-1 (Crawley 71, Stokes 11) Zak Crawley is cutting loose now. Back-to-back fours off Murphy! There are men on the fence but they have no chance of getting anywhere near the ball either time as it skims like polished pebble to the square-leg fence.

23rd over: England 120-1 (Crawley 63, Stokes 10) Another punishing over for Australia. England take eight runs off it, including a fizzing pull-shot by Crawley. He stood tall and smashed the south-paw seamer away with barely a second glance.

22nd over: England 112-1 (Crawley 57, Stokes 9) Crawley dances down and lofts Murphy over the infield for four more. A two and a one to the set-back field easily pocketed. Australia starting to sag a little as they look for the safe harbour of the lunch-break.

21st over: England 105-1 (Crawley 50, Stokes 9) Crawley bunts Starc away for three, misfielded by Cummins at wide mid-off. That’s 50 for the opener. He’s come of age for England in this series.

Four! Stokes powerfully clips off his legs for four. England rack up 100 runs in the session with ease.

20th over: England 98-1 (Crawley 47, Stokes 5) Stokes flicks Murphy through mid-wicket to pick up a single. Sublime! Murphy tosses one up and Crawley dances down and drives classically through cover for four.

Ben Stokes is the seventh No3 of the Bazball era:
Ollie Pope – 19 innings, 819 runs at 45
Moeen Ali – 3 inns, 93 runs at 31
Rehan Ahmed (Nighthawk jr) – 1, 10
Will Jacks – 1, 4
Harry Brook – 1, 3
Ollie Robinson – 1, 2
Ben Stokes – 1, ?

— Ali Martin (@Cricket_Ali) July 29, 2023

19th over: England 92-1 (Crawley 42, Stokes 4) Six singles picked off Starc. England rotate the strike easily with men set back. Very defensive from Cummins, he’s obviously worried about runs but the only way to stem them is to take wickets.

“Hopefully, this might be the innings when Stokes finds his spiritual home at number 3” Writes Tom v Ducht.

“His ability to drop anchor when needed before acceleration is ideally suited. More so than Pope, Brook or Moeen. He also loves coming in to stem the tide of disaster- something an England number 3 experiences a lot…”

18th over: England 86-1 (Crawley 39, Stokes 1) Todd Murphy into the attack. Crawley punches a single to mid-on and Stokes gets off the mark with a bit of a spawny inside edge that zips past the hyena-like Marnus Labuschagne at short-leg. Shot! Crawley sweeps powerfully into the gap for four runs.

WICKET! Duckett c Carey b Starc 42 (England 79-1)

Starc comes back on to replace Cummins and gets the breakthrough! A tiny feather through to Carey is spotted on the review. Duckett has to go and here comes…. BEN STOKES. Huge cheers and a standing ovation (!) greet England’s captain.

17th over: England 79-1 (Crawley 33, Stokes 0)

Ben Duckett leaves the field after being caught out by Australia’s Alex Carey. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

16th over: England 79-0 (Crawley 33, Duckett 42) Three runs off Marsh’s latest. Some stat this:

Zak Crawley has the most runs of any England opener an the Ashes series since Andrew Strauss in 2009. In the past 30 years only Alastair Cook (2010/11), Michael Vaughan (2002/03) and Strauss have scored more in an Ashes series for England opening the batting

— Tim Wigmore (@timwig) July 29, 2023

15th over: England 76-0 (Crawley 31, Duckett 41) Crawley steers Cummins away wide of gully to pick up four runs. A full ball is then whipped through mid-wicket for a two more.

“It’s getting better all the time” notes Mark Taylor on commentary. For England that is.

14th over: England 68-0 (Crawley 24, Duckett 40) Marsh continues after the break. He really is a hulking great thing. His top half is particularly gargantuan – looks like he’s swallowed a chest-freezer. Anyway, he’s bowling to just one slip which must be a bit dispiriting. Cummins has gone to his Brownian Motion field for the umpteenth time this series. A single each to Crawley and Duckett.

“Filthy hangover. Oh, Tricky Crimson King cider why do you do this to me?” Croaks ShowbizGuru.


“Third cup of tea barely denting the damage. 66-0 at the first drinks interval is perking me up though. Time for a livener soon.”

13th over: England 66-0 (Crawley 23, Duckett 39) A skilful and probing over from Pat Cummins takes us to DRINKS. He beat both Crawley and Duckett’s outside edge with deliveries in the high 80mph mark.

Another fascinating hour in this series. Don’t go anywhere.

12th over: England 64-0 (Crawley 22, Duckett 38) England take six off the over with a minimum of fuss. The field is set back and there are plenty of runs on offer. At this stage on the first day they gave it away a little, it’ll be interesting to see if Duckett and Crawley are willing to forego the boundaries a little bit and tick over.

11th over: England 55-0 (Crawley 20, Duckett 35) Things have calmed a little with the introduction of Cummins. A lesser spotted leave from Zak Crawley and three singles picked off with relative ease. Clouds have rolled over a bit here at the Oval. They are high and unthreatening though, and there’s enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of kecks.

@Jimbo_Cricket Something definitely Changed when Stokes took over the captaincy. These are indeed our Glory Days. (Haven’t really got a Pulp/cricket pun for it but also really enjoyed Sunrise last night and thought the whole thing looked amazing)

— Daniel Forman (@dannyforman) July 29, 2023

Used to hate the sun because it shone on everything I’d done.
Made me feel that all that I had done was overfill the ashtray of my life.
All my achievements in days of yore range from pathetic to piss-poor, but all that’s gonna change.

10th over: England 55-0 (Crawley 18, Duckett 34) Here comes the Bison. Mitch Marsh into the attack and he tries a bit of short stuff, something we haven’t seen much of this morning. Crawley splices a cut shot away off the last ball to pick up three runs.

“Ah the good old days. Blur Vs Oasis” says Colin Young.

“If that’s the theme of today’s OBO, may I suggest Stokes drops, no pun intended, a bit of the ego thing? Nobody wants to hear him bleat ‘I don’t believe that anybody fields the way I do…’ right?

As for Cummins surely he can just smile at his critics and sing “This is a Low pressure area, get used to the rain ya whingeing Poms.”

9th over: England 52-0 (Crawley 15, Duckett 34) Cummins to Duckett. Short ball. Pull shot. Top edge. Four runs.

England bring the fifty up inside nine overs. “It’s the tortoise and the hare” notes Mike Atherton on the sky comms – “And the tortoise is winning 2-1… at the moment.”

8th over: England 48-0 (Crawley 15, Duckett 30) The field is now set back with men stationed on the boundary on both sides of the wicket. England take three singles off the over. They drop and run with skill to rotate the strike. Something Australia’s top order – particularly Khawaja and Labuschagne – were poor at yesterday.

“It allows them to bring in their major skillsets within the game”

Mel Jones explains the importance of singles in this Test match 🧐

— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 29, 2023

Morning @Jimbo_Cricket, from a Manchester tram, to the coach, to London, hoping we pummel Australia at 6s and put them in with 400 to chase with ten overs to go, teeing up at least a classic Day 4. So extra nerves for both the game, the weather and my tickets. The hope! 😵‍💫

— Guy Hornsby (@GuyHornsby) July 29, 2023

7th over: England 45-0 (Crawley 14, Duckett 28) Crawley drives handsomely for two and picks up another brace off Cummins with a flick to fine-leg. Beaten! Cummins sends down a beauty that moves and lifts just past the outside edge.

6th over: England 41-0 (Crawley 10, Duckett 28) A tighter over from Hazlewood, just a single to Crawley off it.

“Loving Ricky Ponting’s commentary” writes Pat. “The granular detail of each small fielding change twinned to the line and length of each ball. He’s not terribly happy with Cummins but it’s fascinating to hear.”

Yep – Punter has been so insightful and good craic all summer. He’s a great analyst.

5th over: England 40-0 (Crawley 9, Duckett 28) “C’mon Starc-ers get your act together!” implores Jim Maxwell on TMS. Maxwell’s gloopingly rich antipodean tones have more than a hint of frustration. Cummins replaces Starc who went for 22 off his two overs. Big Pat goes full on the pads and Duckett clips him away for four. A single through point and a scampered leg-bye. Shot! Duckett glides Cummins away for another boundary. England ticking. Ten runs off the over.

4th over: England 30-0 (Crawley 9, Duckett 19) A gift from Josh Hazlewood, leg stump half-volley flicked to the boundary with disdain by Duckett. The big seamer looks a bit off it here, he spears a ball down leg and loses his length. It must be so hard to keep a cool head with two batters so brazenly coming at you every single ball.

“Hello from Zambia – thank goodness for live streams, I may be in central Africa far from leg byes, silly mid offs and cover drives but today I’m at the Oval. All day.”

Lovely to have you with us Ben Carter.

3rd over: England 25-0 (Crawley 9, Duckett 14) Duckett clips in the air for four, it wasn’t a mile away from Todd Murphy at mid-wicket but whistles to the fence. Starc goes full and straight, Duckett would have been a goner but for a meaty inside edge. A single brings Crawley on strike… he throws the kitchen sink, kettle, cutlery draw and fridge at a wide-ish delivery and the ball flies over point for four. It’s heady stuff.

Here’s yer TMS overseas link:

2nd over: England 16-0 (Crawley 5, Duckett 9) A quieter over from Hazlewood who is more accurate than Starc. On a good length for the duration, just a nurdled quick single. That first over was quite something. The crowd here are louder and more burbling than they’ve been all Test.

“If Pat Cummins is Damon Alban I guess the immortal banger hit gets renamed Song 2-1? C’mon Aussie!” Good stuff, Rowan Sweeney.

1st over: England 13-0 (Crawley 5, Duckett 8) BOSH. A rank wide and full ball by Starc is pulverised through the covers by Crawley for four! He’s becoming an expert at this. A quick single brings Duckett on strike. Shot! A straight drive through mid-on gets him going. And another! A clip through mid-wicket brings another boundary and the crowd are well into this. England have a lead of one run!

Here come the players, a roar goes around the ground as Crawley and Duckett stride to the crease. Mitchell Starc will have the ball first up. Play!

Oh, and apparently Root and Stokes are both padded up…

This is well worth a watch in the five minutes we have before play.

The ECB have teamed up with Alzheimer’s Society for the first time in a bid to stump dementia out of the game.

England Assistant Coach Marcus Trescothick discusses how the charity helps people affected by the disease.

— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 29, 2023

The strings were fantastic, Scott (and Emma!)

@Jimbo_Cricket Glad you enjoyed my pal Emma’s virtuosic violin/guitar and everything last night (she’s joined Pulp). I’m not convinced this match has a polished and perfect performance in it. This has been more of a scrappy Blur vs Oasis series.

— Scott Bennett (@ScootBenet) July 29, 2023

On this, Stokes would be Liam and Cummins Damon? I can’t see any other configuration.

There is a real buzz around the ground this morning, the sun is out and the crowd are expecting to see something special from one or both sides today.

“Pulp references applicable to the last couple of days?” chirps Nick Smith “Help the aged (for obvious Jimmy reasons) …”

I reckon he was getting back in the groove yesterday Nick, he beat the bat loads and had the ball moving about again.

Who will bat three for England? Will Moeen come out for a hobbly slog or is there something else afoot…

Chris Woakes having a long net this morning at The Oval. And England need a new No. 3…

— Matt Roller (@mroller98) July 29, 2023

As ever it’d be lovely to hear from you. Thoughts, theories and anything else in between most welcome. You can drop me an Email or tweet @Jimbo_Cricket.

It is sunny and bright here at the Oval after some early morning rain. Play should start bang on time.

I’m off to track down some caffeine – between us – I went to see Pulp last night and am a wee bit dusty. It was magnificent. Corduroy and angular dance moves aplenty.

Back soon, meet me at the fountain down the road? right here in a few.


James Wallace

Hello and welcome to the third day of the final Men’s Ashes Test of the summer. It’s ‘moving day’ as they say in the trade, well actually, it is now a one innings shootout between Pat Cummins’ and Ben Stokes’ sides.

Australia’s tail wagged yesterday to eke out a 12 run lead, England will come out to bat this morning under blue skies and I think we all know how they are going to approach this, don’t we? For one last time this summer we’ll see some RootinTootinBazballin’ batting.

Enjoy it while you can – the next home Test in England isn’t for nearly a year. We’ll see runs and we’ll see wickets and one of these teams is going to grab the advantage here at the Oval over the next few hours. Let’s do this.

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