Ashes 2023: England fall short in another classic at Lord’s - but Australia now on brink of retaining the urn
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England fell to a 43 run defeat at Lord’s as even a 155 knock from Ben Stokes could not prevent Australia taking a further hold on the LV= Insurance Men’s Ashes Series. The win puts Australia on course for a first series win in England since 2001.
England entertained throughout the match, trying to score runs quickly but it felt as though they were always behind Australia. It was a relatively close run thing on the final day, but in reality there were several key moments throughout the match which led to the defeat.
The first of these was not taking advantage of favourable bowling conditions on the first day. The Australian openers had a fairly comfortable time of it on a cloudy, dull morning in London- they went on to score over 400 and this gave England an uphill task.
The next key moment was getting into a good position with the bat before pressing the self-destruct button. From 188-1 and cruising, England were dismantled by a mixture of quality bowling and mindless batting. Their eventual total of 325 gave Australia a very handy first innings lead of almost 100- something which they took advantage of.
In fairness, England’s bowlers did incredibly well to hold back Australia- at one point the tourists were 123-1 and in no real danger. Four wickets from Stuart Broad helped to curtail the Australians, but the target of 371 was always going to be a major ask.
England had four sessions to reach the target and ideally they needed to not lose too many wickets on the evening of day 4. Unfortunately, the Australian quicks had other ideas.
An absolutely blistering spell from Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins reduced England to 45-4 and looking down the barrel of a heavy defeat. It was only through sheer grit and determination that England were able to battle on.
Ben Duckett plugged away to 83 and his wicket came with England still almost 200 runs behind. This looked like even more of a lost cause when Jonny Bairstow was stumped in the very controversial but legal manner, but Stokes’ heroics did at least keep England in the hunt.
His dramatic 155 innings came to an end with England still 70 from the finish line and, despite some tail end bravery, Australia got the job done. It was feisty, gritty and entertaining- but the cold hard truth is that Australia lead 2-0 and could stop England winning the Ashes back with just a draw in the third Test at Leeds.
Baseball has been pushed to its limits so far in this Ashes, and for all its entertainment it has yielded no positive results against Australia yet. The third test at Headingley is now win or bust for England- and the pressure is well and truly on.