England narrowly avoid follow-on against Australia


MANCHESTER, England: England narrowly avoided the follow-on after they were bowled out for 301 at Old Trafford on Saturday leaving Australia with a lead of 196 runs as they head into their second innings with the chance to retain the Ashes.

The series is level at 1-1 with the final test to come at The Oval next week and England need to produce another remarkable comeback to avoid defeat.

It was a fine combined effort from Australia’s pace attack with Josh Hazlewood ending with four wickets and Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins picking up three each.

Left-arm seamer Starc amply justified his inclusion for this Test with the key breakthrough wickets after England resumed on 200 for five.

With the Manchester skies brighter, the hosts added 28 runs before Starc, with the new ball, removed Jonny Bairstow (17) with a peach of a delivery which got through the gap left by the Yorkshireman’s unwise attempt to drive.

Not for the first time, Ben Stokes, the hero of the Headingley comeback was left with the responsibility of saving his country’s innings, but he too fell victim to Starc’s movement, this time off the seam, as he edged to Steve Smith at second slip to fall for 26.

Jofra Archer joined Joss Buttler at the crease but scored just one before getting out to a poor shot, edging Cummins to keeper Tim Paine.

Stuart Broad (5) has his off-stump emphatically removed by Starc, bringing to the crease Jack Leach, whose famous one not out at Headingley was rewarded with a standing ovation.

It was hardly in the same category of drama but Leach and Buttler put on 18 for the final wicket to narrowly avoid the humiliation of the follow-on before Cummins bowled Buttler (41).