Home » Ashes 2021-22 Third Test, Day Two: Australia V England – Live!

Ashes 2021-22 Third Test, Day Two: Australia V England – Live!

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65th over: Australia 184-6 (Carey 0, Green 6) Fierce from Wood, who gets some exceptional bounce, one steeples into Green’s glove and flies uncontrollably short of point. Australia sniffing towards parity now, but England threatening.


64th over: Australia 181-6 (Carey 0, Green 3) Green crouches over his bat and plays Anderson back. Carefully does it. He’s a big ball striker when he’s in the mood, but reins himself in. An old dog v a coiled spring Is anyone out there at the MCG? What’s the atmosphere like?


63rd over: Australia 181-6 (Carey 0, Green 3) Now we get the change as Wood replaces Leach and immediately the danger level is raised. Green is a sniff away from edging behind until he scampers away up the other end leaving Carey to see out the over.


62nd over: Australia 180-6 (Carey 0, Green 2) The old dog showing all his tricks. Carey sees out the over with some difficulty, pinged on the gloves. Anderson bowling nice and full, just like Joe likes it. Nicely played by Harris, securing his place for the next Test.



WICKET! Harris c Root b Anderson 76 (Australia 180-6)

Another catch for Root! Beautifully done by Jimmy, one that straightens as Harris prods, and the ball angles off the bat dropping at shin height to Root.


61st over: Australia 180-5 (Harris 76, Green 2) Leach stays on for his eleventh over: Green is impotent but Harris square drives with aplomb.


60th over: Australia 177-5 (Harris 73, Green 2) Anderson is whipped into action and he’s full and Green can’t get any purchase. Some stattage – 83 per cent of Anderson’s balls this year have been dots in Test cricket. I don’t have any comparisons to that but it seems pretty mindblowing, the old miser.


59th over: Australia 176-5 (Harris 72, Green 2) Harris picks up Leach for three, and Green sees out the over.

soupmother (@OGsoupmother)

@tjaldred If Root keeps Leach on for the new batter…

December 27, 2021

Yes, I’d be tempted to bring back one of the fast men. I guess Root is trying to bowl him into rhythm with a long spell – obviously the middle of a crucial Test not the ideal place to do this…


58th over: Australia 173-5 (Harris 69, Green 2) Robinson – I’m trying to think of a more flattering verb than trundles – through another over. A maiden and that is DRINKS.


57th over: Australia 173-5 (Harris 69, Green 2) Just a single off Leach, as Green stretches his giant limbs forward and slips into a drive.

Here’s the latest on England’s covid cases, which could yet threaten the tour. I’ve just sent the two positive teens in this house upstairs but am enjoying breathing their covid-air in the living room.


56th over: Australia 171-5 (Harris 69, Green 0) Tasty bowling by Robinson dangling the bait, which Head couldn’t resist. A vital breakthrough for England on what has been a barren afternoon after a sprightly morning. If they could just rattle through the next few, all is not lost. Australia currently just 14 runs in arrears.


WICKET! Head c Root b Robinson 27 (Australia 171-5)

Head prods inelegantly and the edge flies safely into the hands of Root at navel height at slip.

Travis Head departs the MCG. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images



55th over: Australia 170-4 (Harris 69, Head 27) Leach wheels through a quick over of fairly flattish fare.


54th over: Australia 169-4 (Harris 69, Head 26) Good morning and thanks Jonathan, just an easy workaday session for you there…. Now where are we? We get a close up of Buttler looking stony faced behind the stumps before Harris cuts Robinson down to third man for four with quite the zing. Australia’s out-of-form batsman now striding towards his century.



And with that, I’ll hand you over to Tanya Aldred. Catch you here tomorrow.


53rd over: Australia 165-4 (Harris 65, Head 26) Since moving over the wicket Leach has looked a very different operator. Head doesn’t know whether to stick or twist in this latest over that goes for a couple of singles.

Ben Jones (@benjonescricket)

Taken four overs, but short leg’s in and Leach is over the wicket. Three half chances inside six balls. Who’d have thought it

December 27, 2021


52nd over: Australia 163-4 (Harris 64, Head 25) Decent line and length from Robinson at 130kph and his accuracy draws an edge from Harris, but it’s played with soft hands and dies short of Bairstow at a very short third slip.

England battled hard in the morning session to wrest some control after yesterday’s horror show, but this now 53-run partnership has taken the wind out of their sails. Australia are happy to grind their way into a lead. England need an injection of magic form somewhere.


51st over: Australia 163-4 (Harris 64, Head 25) Leach, starting an over from over the wicket for the first time today, draws a false shot from Head, sweeping off the top edge that lands not far from Robinson at square leg. Then he beats Harris with a fast dart down the leg-side that turns and bounces – STUMPING CHANCE! – but Buttler can’t hang onto the opportunity. That’s the second half-chance the England gloveman has missed today.

Tom King (@tallgeekychap)

@jphowcroft For all that England’s batting is irrecoverably bad, this session since lunch is the worst one of the series so far. After aggression and intensity and clarity of thought, the lack of continuity is infuriating.

December 27, 2021


50th over: Australia 157-4 (Harris 63, Head 22) Ollie Robinson gets another chance, replacing Mark Wood, and he soon teases Harris into fishing outside his off stump with the angle across the left-hander. Once again, the opener recognises his error of judgement and returns to his compact ways. This has been an excellent demonstration of temperament from Harris.


49th over: Australia 157-4 (Harris 63, Head 22) The Leach nonsense continues with easy singles on offer whenever Harris or Head want them. Belatedly, Leach comes over the wicket, but what preceded will remain one of those most baffling passages of play I can recall.

soupmother (@OGsoupmother)

@JPHowcroft I don’t know how anyone keeps playing in this England team. They were raring to go in the overs before lunch. Everyone was up for it. Then, in the decicive overs after lunch, the captain just lets them all down with timid defensive tactics. He has to go.

December 27, 2021

100%. But presumably this isn’t all (or at all!) on Root. This was surely a plan devised over a 40-minute break with coaches and analysts. It’s barmy.


48th over: Australia 155-4 (Harris 62, Head 21) Harris has been patient and compact all day but he’s lucky not to nick a swoosh at Wood well outside off stump. He reverts to type immediately afterwards, as has been his great strength this innings, and pushes a simple couple through point.


47th over: Australia 152-4 (Harris 60, Head 20) More of this Leach around the wicket weirdness, and it almost buys a dismissal with Head dawdling a single, but Stokes misses the direct hit after some smart fielding. Whatever happened to run outs? Are they still a thing? I remember when Ricky Ponting and Jonty Rhodes were at their pomp in the 90s and every team had a baseball coach and specialist fielding drills and it seemed as though an era of dead-eye fielders was upon us. Nope.


46th over: Australia 149-4 (Harris 59, Head 18) Wood runs in hard, hits the deck hard, and hits the bat hard, but he’s too short and Head is happy to see off an over of dots from the crease. After a cool morning, the sun’s out over the MCG and it’s lovely and warm.

“All this talk about turning the ashes into an intercontinental competition because England are so poor. It’s worth remembering that Australia haven’t won a series in England for over 20 years.” Euan Roberts with some perspective.


45th over: Australia 149-4 (Harris 59, Head 18) Another nothing over from Leach, but only two singles milked from it. All that diligence of the morning session feels like it’s leaking away for the tourists.

Jarrod Kimber (@ajarrodkimber)

Jack Leach averages 61 against left-handers. Makes sense you wait until there are two of them at the crease to bring him on after what happened at the Gabba.

December 27, 2021


50 to Marcus Harris

44th over: Australia 147-4 (Harris 58, Head 17) Wood is a more rational choice at the opposite end to Leach but he begins by bowling too full to Harris who punches a compact drive down the ground to bring up a dogged half-century, repaying the faith of the selectors after a lean series to date. Harris follows that up with a guided glance through the gully for four more. That was a shot from a batter in control of his game – solid platform, modest ambition, at ease with the pace of the ball. Australia have come out flying after lunch.

Marcus Harris acknowledges the pavilion after passing 50. Photograph: Hamish Blair/AFP/Getty Images



43rd over: Australia 137-4 (Harris 48, Head 16) The mind boggles. Leach bowls the first over after lunch, and it’s that same defensive line from around the wicket to the left-handers, with that weird-in-out field. Any mild frustration from England supporters must surely become untempered rage after three deliveries when a rank long hop is pounded behind square-leg by Head for four. Talk about allowing a batter to settle in after an interval. Cheap singles follow and logic sails out of the visiting dressing room window.

Ben Jones (@benjonescricket)

Jack Leach bowling round the wicket into Travis Head’s pads, because the field basically doesn’t let him do anything else.

December 27, 2021



And a quick shoutout to any Melburnians (local, or visiting) who might be keen to check out how Geoff’s beard’s going…

Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport)

I’ll be with @collinsadam recording The Final Word Ashes Daily live tonight, in a safely distanced way, at the Turf Bar in Melbourne’s CBD with help from @bricklanebrewing. More info here.t.co/497c4ZV0f8

December 27, 2021


How fast was Mark Wood this morning? The fastest.

The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst)

Mark Wood’s average speed in this Test so far is 150kph – the fastest for any England seamer in a Test innings in Australia, since records began. #Ashes @IGCom pic.twitter.com/delNOvpt55

December 27, 2021


That was a welcome breather. Back to the cricket.


Lunch: Australia 131-4 (England 185)

England bowled excellently this morning session. Great control, fuller lengths, and they deserved more than the three wickets which came their way. Anderson in particular was superb.

Marcus Harris has been dogged for Australia, riding plenty of edges and plays and misses for his 48. At the other end he hasn’t found a lasting partner.

That all said, the major action probably took place off the pitch with four of England’s touring party failing RAT Covid tests and the remainder of the tour on a knife-edge while the full PCR test results come back.

The MCG on day two of the Boxing Day Test. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP



42nd over: Australia 131-4 (Harris 48, Head 11) Robinson’s lethargic over is the only one of his spell with Mark Wood swapping ends to hurry up Marcus Harris with lunch in sight. Wood does beat the edge, twice in the over, but as he has all day, Harris gets his head down, brushes off any concern and presents the full face of his bat to a fuller delivery to earn a couple of runs, then leans into a glance that brings him closet to a half-century.


41st over: Australia 127-4 (Harris 44, Head 11) Now it is time for some spin, and the first overs from Jack Leach since his Gabba nightmare. Lisa Sthalekar is immediately furious at the defensive in-out field, as well as Leach bowling his left-arm orthodox from around the wicket to a pair of left-handed batters. There’s turn and bounce, but it all seems very confused from England with both batters able to milk runs unchallenged into the on-side. Not hugely promising from Root and the brains trust.

Will Macpherson (@willis_macp)

Joe Root’s fields were too attacking for Jack Leach’s introduction, and now they’re too defensive. First over milked for four easy runs.

December 27, 2021


40th over: Australia 123-4 (Harris 43, Head 8) Anderson’s superb morning comes to a close. On comes Robinson, and out goes the ball – all the way to the cover fence. Not for the first time in his Test career the seamer struggles to his mark early and Head pounds a merciless square cut to a soft long hop. He works three more through the covers later in the over. Robinson simply cannot afford to miss his line and length at 125kph with a ball that isn’t moving in the air. There’s a run-out scare late in the over, but England never hit the stumps with a shy, do they?

Ben Jones (@benjonescricket)

I think Ollie Robinson’s an outstanding bowler, but the time he takes to get his speeds/radar up is just not good enough, really.

December 27, 2021


39th over: Australia 116-4 (Harris 43, Head 1) Consecutive maidens for England but Wood was again too short to the watchful Harris.


38th over: Australia 116-4 (Harris 43, Head 1) Anderson is into the sixth over of his superb spell, and he continues to keep Head tied down, targeting the stumps from around the wicket, searching for that hint of tail away from the bat. Another maiden, Anderson’s seventh from 15 overs all up.

It might be time to take a look at some spin soon.

Andy Zaltzman (@ZaltzCricket)

Yes, 6 overs 5 maidens 1 for 1. The one was from Smith’s inside edge dropped by a diving Buttler. Tidy spell. t.co/1z1rocurQK

December 27, 2021



37th over: Australia 116-4 (Harris 43, Head 1) Back comes Wood for a burst before lunch. He was lively in his wicket-taking two-over spell earlier, but he can’t find the right length here, allowing Harris and Head to hang back and defend from the crease. Until the final delivery of the over that is, when Harris is fortunate to see a thick edge bounce before the cordon and scuttle away for four.

“England’s bowlers finally seem to be listening to their captain (not to mention pundits and cricket fans) and pitch the ball up,” emails Colum Fordham. “As soon as Robinson increased his length, he enticed Lyon into the forward defensive prod and got the wicket. Likewise, Wood has settled upon a fuller length and is really testing the Aussie batsmen, getting the crucial breakthrough of Labuschagne. It’s up to Root to set more attacking fields, encourage his bowlers to land the ball in good areas to put Australia under pressure for the first time this series. I like the way Anderson is bowling around he wicket to Harris. We might just get something from this morning’s session.” #Astute


36th over: Australia 110-4 (Harris 38, Head 0) Anderson is bowling beautifully. Head is welcomed to the crease with a delivery angled into him from around the wicket that seams away past the outside edge off the pitch. Terrific wicket-maiden from the veteran.

Smith never looked settled during his 31 ball stay at the crease, failing to get bat on ball as much as he would normally expect. Harris now has an important job to convert his dogged start.


WICKET! Smith b Anderson 16 (Australia 110-4)

There’s that in-ducker again from Anderson to Smith, this time the edge is thicker and there’s no need to bring the keeper into the equation because the ball ricochets down onto the stumps and the bails go flying. A richly deserved wicket for England.

James Anderson gets his man. Photograph: James Ross/EPA



35th over: Australia 110-3 (Harris 38, Smith 16) Some rare runs off the bat, three of them, to Smith, who stands tall outside off-stump and drives confidently. Harris then milks three of his own when Stokes strays onto his pads.

Tom van der Gucht has dropped me a line. I agree with the analysis, not convinced about the practicality of the remedy. This is the market at work, right, comrades?

“I’ve read a great variety of reasons as to the decline in our cricketing fortunes, but I’ve been brewing a longstanding concern regarding the impact of a talent drain upon England’s sporting fortunes through football clubs hoovering up all the top athletes at an early age. Football academies snap up the most talented pupils whilst at primary school – encouraging them to sign their sporting future away and spend the next decade missing out on a rich and varied diet of different opportunities they never get the chance to excel at. Then, at 18, 99% of them fail to make it and get released… Imagine all the sporting talent slipping through the net… they may not be footballers, but they were recognised for their athletic potential that could have flourished if they’d been able to apply it elsewhere. I think all Football academies should be forced to run other competitions in the off season: A T10 cricket league between premiership clubs; an annual athletics competition; mini Wimbledon; indoor rowing 2KM races (we need to up our game there too); and possibly handball as we may have an outside shot at an Olympic medal there.”


34th over: Australia 105-3 (Harris 36, Smith 13) Now Harris plays and misses to Anderson, but the length is a fraction short to demand an edge. And again! Fuller this time, angling into the left hander then seaming enough to hold its line. England continue to probe, as they have all morning, but the Gods have not been on their side. To his credit, Harris has shrugged off any moral defeats and played every ball on its merits.


33rd over: Australia 105-3 (Harris 36, Smith 13) Stokes beats Smith’s outside edge again in another tight over for England. They have dried up the runs, but Australia’s batters are keeping their heads; for now.


32nd over: Australia 104-3 (Harris 36, Smith 13) Smith rotates the strike early against Anderson, who then denies Harris anything to work with. England have bowled diligently this morning but they need to find some magic to convert that pressure into wickets. Only Wood has really seemed capable of delivery something out of nothing.

“Could Covid scupper the entire series if there were more outbreaks?” asks Andrew Benton. Possibly, yes. “Maybe need the whole thing to be played again?” I hope not. “Or at least not listed as a series defeat for England?” Lol. “Do we know what the possible scenarios and actions are?” The immediate response will be based on the volume of cases and the need for isolating. We then have the issues of internal movement between states in Australia with the final Tests in NSW and Tasmania. Lots of logistics to work through, if required.


31st over: Australia 103-3 (Harris 36, Smith 13) Good over from Stokes, angling the ball into Harris from around the wicket, but the Australian survives and continues to look assured at the crease for the first time this series, offering an aggressive pull soon after his near-dismissal.

“It’s true that the ECB seems to be favouring short-form cricket against the proper game, but that’s because they are chasing the money,” argues John Starbuck. “That they don’t account for the effects of doing this on the players only reveals the shortcomings of accountancy. Players don’t have sufficient experience of the longer game, which isn’t just about pacing their innings or bowling spells, it’s also about how you bat or bowl with differently-set fields. How many short-form games have a full slip cordon, for instance? Players naturally play to the strengths of the short-forms because they can win matches; in the short term, this works, but the ECB and corresponding bodies elsewhere don’t take a longer view. Much the same can be said of politicians these days, who aim to set the tone for their societies.”

I would like to be smart enough to write a book with a title along the lines of: “The death of custodianship: What happened to the public good?”. See Premier League football clubs as further examples.


Not Out

… yes, yes there was an inside-edge, a very skinny one that relied on snicko to confirm. Hot spot missed it.

Vithushan Ehantharajah (@Vitu_E)

“Hot spot’s fucking hopeless”
– Marcus Harris deserves a century for that

December 27, 2021



Australia review! Harris given out LBW

Ben Stokes pins the Australian opener on the pads from around the wicket. Paul Reiffel’s finger goes up. Was there an inside edge?


Gary Naylor (@garynaylor999)

No batsman in history has had the nudge five yards to the left or right hand of the infielders followed by a scampered single as their signature shot @JPHowcroft. That Smith has done this in the age of big bats is remarkable. Freak!

December 27, 2021

Keeps the scoreboard ticking over, irritates bowlers, fielders, and captains, gets him to the non-striker’s end. Superb.


30th over: Australia 103-3 (Harris 36, Smith 13) Anderson sends down a tight over to Smith, who respectfully sees off a maiden. Only one delivery catches the eye, an inswinger that moved appreciably in the air, the ball carrying over the stumps with the batter already way outside off-stump.



29th over: Australia 103-3 (Harris 36, Smith 13) Just a two-over burst from Mark Wood, which doesn’t bode well. The speedster is replaced by Ben Stokes for his first trundle of the day – and he immediately finds a thick edge from Smith’s bat, but it flies through the vacant third slip region and away for four. Smith, still yet to settle, then mistimes a slap of a pull that clears the infield but plugs a long way from the midwicket boundary. England are not enjoying the rub of the green.

“Don’t forget the America’s Cup,” emails Jen Oram, in response to the suggestion the Ashes may have outlived their usefulness. “It went from 1881 to 1962 until the Aussies were allowed to challenge. (There were a couple of Canadian challenges before that.) If we’ve got another 70 years or so to wait before someone else can compete for the Ashes. I might give up and start following bog-snorkelling.”


28th over: Australia 94-3 (Harris 34, Smith 6) DROP! ISH! Anderson’s length draws Smith forward, then he finally gets some movement off the pitch, leading to an inside-edge that clips the pad and carries through low to Buttler’s left. The keeper dived full length but could only get his fingertips to the opportunity. That was tough, with Buttler only seeing the chance at the last minute. Still, add it to the tally. As is often the case, Angry Anderson brings out the best in the Lancastrian and he peppers Harris’ outside edge for the remainder of the over.

cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau)

Probably can’t call that one a drop! Anderson getting the ball moving. #Ashes pic.twitter.com/nXsEeDDgjs

December 27, 2021


27th over: Australia 93-3 (Harris 34, Smith 5) Wood leaks onto Smith’s pads and goes for three at the start of an over lacking the same precision of the England paceman’s previous efforts.

“Yes, we can all have a good laugh about England and ask whether a Big Bash XI could do any worse,” opens Andrew Cosgrove. “But over the past few years, a lot of England’s selection policy appears to have been predicated on the question ‘could they do any worse?’, and the answer has usually been ‘yes. Yes they can’. Look at Jason Roy. Vince and Hales’s test careers don’t really inspire much confidence. Mills can only bowl about four overs a day. Abell and Mahmood I’ve thought for a while are likely to have promising careers for England at some stage, but they scored no runs and took no wickets for the Lions against Australia A. So, on balance, I think no, we wouldn’t be better off with a team from the Big Bash.”


26th over: Australia 88-3 (Harris 33, Smith 1) Robinson strays onto Harris’ pads, allowing the Australian opener an easy three. Smith has yet to settle at the crease, but he avoids a duck with a nurdle into the on-side.


25th over: Australia 84-3 (Harris 30, Smith 0) That extra pace makes so much difference in these conditions, hurrying up the Australian batters before their eyes are in. Smith is skittish at the crease with Wood bowling a tight fourth stump line, the speed gun registering 151kph. England have an opening they must take advantage of before lunch if they are to breathe life into this series.


WICKET! Labuschagne c Root b Wood 1 (Australia 84-3)

Mark Wood, the pick of England’s bowlers yesterday, is a welcome introduction to the attack. Harris leans into a nice drive for three, but then Labuschagne goes! A rare cheap dismissal for the Australian run-machine, who is late to a fizzing Wood delivery on a length and can only send a regulation edge to Joe Root’s bread basket. England might just be onto something here.

Marnus Labuschagne contemplates a rare failure. Photograph: Joel Carrett/EPA



24th over: Australia 81-2 (Harris 27, Labuschagne 1) Robinson is bowling stump-to-stump to Labuschagne and the Australian is unable to work any runs away on the leg-side. He’s also caught in the ribs with a delivery that rises off a length. Not a whole heap going on out in the middle, especially compared to what must be happening behind the scenes.

“I have been on a cricket break for a bit but was just coming back to it for this series; doing the usual, reading articles listening in for the first few hours, texting pals about batting collapses. But tonight it’s a toss up between a podcast or TMS, I’ve not even chatted to pals about it,” emails Lennie Lenford. “Every year since 2005 it seems to matter a little less. And maybe there’s more important things right now. I hope I’ll tune in again and hope there’s still something to tune into.” 2005 remember, the year cricket left terrestrial TV in the UK.


23rd over: Australia 80-2 (Harris 27, Labuschagne 1) Anderson is on the money bowling around the wicket to Harris, pushing the ball up and forcing the opener to defend a maiden from the crease. There is no lateral movement to speak of so Anderson is somewhat de-fanged.

Vectron44 (@vectron44)

@JPHowcroft Is there a case to be made now, for England just to select 11 players that they think will be in their test team (or thereabouts) for 3+yrs and keep them for both Sydney and Hobart? Given everything occurring on and off field?

December 27, 2021

I think England have tried this approach already (see Sibley, Pope, Crawley, Archer etc) but for one reason or another it just hasn’t worked, nor have many of the up-and-comers demonstrated they have the techniques or wherewithal to be persevered with in the expectation they will come good.


22nd over: Australia 80-2 (Harris 27, Labuschagne 1) Marnus is off the mark with a squirty inside-edge behind square on the on-side. Marcus also adds a run to a similar location, albeit mirrored, with him being a leftie and all.

“Will the Ashes go the same way as the Wightman Cup – an inter-continental competition that was scrapped because the British team kept being whitewashed?” asks Dominic O’Reilly. Or perhaps it morphs into a Ryder Cup style event with England becoming Team Europe? The European Cricket Championship is making inroads…


21st over: Australia 78-2 (Harris 26, Labuschagne 0) Harris has his top score of the series so far after being backed in by the Australian selectors, and he whips a couple off his pads to move to 26. On his home deck he looks compact and assured.

Mystère_Cygne (@Mystere_Cygne)

@JPHowcroft please tell me both squads are having PCR tests in addition to the RAT. The series could go entirely pear shaped. Good calling to you.

December 27, 2021

They sure are, and there is of course a grey area between RAT and PCR tests that invites an element of risk to proceedings.


20th over: Australia 76-2 (Harris 24, Labuschagne 0) Robinson’s reward for removing the nightwatchman is the sight of the No 1 batter on the ICC’s rankings. Marnus Labuschagne is happy to let a couple of sighters through and allow the bowler a wicket-maiden.

If a Covid case takes out the entire England team, or this current shower of a side is sent home,” emails Brendan Jones, “maybe a scratch side made up of England players currently here for the Big Bash could be pressed into duty. Could they do any worse? Vince, Billings, Hales, Brook, Duckett, Abell, Evans, Thompson, Mills, Mahmood, Jordan.” Even if it was worse, it would be more entertaining, surely?