Ashes 2nd Test: Australia survive Ben Stokes assault to take commanding 2-0 lead

Toby Marshall
4 July 2023
Ashes 2nd Test

Australia extended their winning streak in the ongoing Ashes series with a commanding 43-run victory over England at Lord’s, giving them a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. Despite a valiant effort from Ben Stokes, who scored an impressive 155 runs, England fell short in their pursuit of 371 runs in the second innings.

During their chase, England’s captain formed two century-plus partnerships, one with Stuart Broad and another with Ben Duckett. However, after his dismissal, England quickly lost two more wickets for just one run. James Anderson and Josh Tongue provided a brief resistance before Mitchell Starc ended the proceedings in the second session.

On Day 5, England began with an overnight score of 114/4. The controversial dismissal of Jonny Bairstow stirred debate, although it was deemed not unfair by the officials.

With the morning session underway, Mitchell Starc posed a challenging threat to Stokes by consistently bowling difficult deliveries, utilizing the available swing. Stokes and Duckett demonstrated steady batting skills, forming a solid partnership of 100 runs and reducing the target to below 200. Australia’s strategy of employing short-pitched deliveries eventually paid off when Hazlewood induced a top-edge from Duckett, resulting in a one-handed catch by the agile Alex Carey, positioned on the leg side.

Bairstow, after hitting a couple of boundaries and appearing comfortable, fell victim to a controversial stumping just before the conclusion of the first session. While evading a short delivery from Cam Green, Bairstow strayed from the crease when Carey attempted to run him out. The third umpire, judging that the ball was still in play, adjudged Bairstow out, leading to disappointment among the England players and the crowd, who expressed their disapproval of the decision.

This incident sparked a heated atmosphere, seemingly fueling a fired-up Stokes, who launched a spirited counterattack. He unleashed an assault, striking three fours in an over off Green. Stokes was granted a reprieve when Cummins failed to hold onto a challenging return catch. Subsequently, he hammered three consecutive sixes off Green. With a score of 61 off 126 deliveries at the time of Bairstow’s dismissal, Stokes accelerated to reach his century off just 142 balls, showcasing an exceptional counteroffensive.

Following the Lunch break, Stokes maintained his aggressive approach, launching a powerful six down the ground off Hazlewood. However, he received a lucky break when his mistimed pull shot in the same over was dropped by Steve Smith. Hazlewood endured an expensive over as Stokes hammered two more sixes, with Broad adding a boundary to the tally.

However, immediately after the afternoon drinks break, Stokes fell victim to a top-edge off Josh Hazlewood’s delivery, sending the ball into the off-side field with 70 runs still required for victory. The pressure proved too much for the lower-order batsmen, as both Ollie Robinson and Broad fell to the short-pitched deliveries, finding fielders in the deep while attempting hooks.

Tongue and Anderson held on for a brief period, teasing the possibility of an unlikely twist before Mitchell Starc delivered a leg-stump delivery that Tongue, in an attempt to create room, could not handle, bringing an end to their resistance.

Author Toby Marshall