On Thursday, the second day of the fourth Test being played at Old Trafford, Zak Crawley’s lightning-quick 189, which was also his first Ashes hundred, fueled a remarkable run spree by England.
At the end of the fourth over, England had scored 384 runs in response to Australia’s first innings total of 317. This gave them a lead of 67 runs in the match, which they needed to win in order to keep their chances alive of reclaiming the Ashes after falling down 2-1 with two games remaining.
A partnership of 206 runs was achieved in just 29 overs by Crawley and Joe Root, who scored 84 runs individually.
The previous partnership came about after Crawley and Moeen Ali (54), who were batting together, had already put up 121 for the second wicket.
At the end of the match, Harry Brook was not out for 14 and England captain Ben Stokes remained undefeated on 24.
After the early loss of Ben Duckett, England reached lunch with a score of 61-1 after 16 overs. There was no indication that there would be a rush of runs to follow.
They had scored 178 runs in only 25 overs during the second session, bringing their total to 239-2 by the time tea was served.
Crawley himself moved from 26 not out to 132 not out throughout the course of the Ashes Test, making him only the sixth England batsman to ever reach a hundred runs in a session of an Ashes Test.
After tea, Crawley kept the scoring going strong by hitting two excellent straight-driven boundaries off consecutive deliveries from Pat Cummins, the captain of the Australian team. With those runs, Crawley reached his fourth hundred in 38 total tests and moved above the 150-run mark.
There were concerns that the rain that was anticipated for the weekend may derail England’s attempt to win the match, therefore the team’s quick run-scoring served as a possible insurance policy.
However, as Cummins was running out of ideas and Crawley was close to scoring a second double century in a test match, he decided to chop on to all-rounder Cameron Green. This came three years after Crawley scored 267 against Pakistan in Southampton.
It was the conclusion of a spectacular innings in which the 25-year-old, who has a tendency to be erratic, scored at a rate of more than a run per ball while facing 182 deliveries, of which there were 21 fours and three sixes.
It didn’t take long for England’s 336-3 to become 351-4 when Joe Root was bowled for 84 by a Josh Hazlewood delivery that remained unusually low. This was a troubling sight for Australia, which is trying to win the Ashes series in England for the first time since 2001, just as much as it was for the hosts.
Stokes, on the other hand, was struck on the head by a Hazlewood delivery that swung back off its length.
When Australia’s Starc, who led their attack with 2-74 from 15 overs, departed the field after falling severely on his left shoulder while making a diving stop at mid-on, Australia’s difficulties were exacerbated. Starc had led their attack.
Both Crawley and Moeen rode their luck against Australia’s quicks. Crawley had been in red-ball retirement until the start of this series, while Moeen was only batting at number three because Ollie Pope’s season-ending shoulder injury occurred in the second Test at Lord’s. Moeen was only batting at number three because of Pope’s injury.
Moeen Ali was just the fourth England player after Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff, and his current teammate Stuart Broad to achieve the Test ‘double’ of 3,000 runs and 200 wickets. On Thursday, two consecutive deliveries summed up Moeen’s performance as he became the fourth England player to accomplish this feat.
Before hitting his next ball for a beautiful boundary, Moeen took advantage of some good fortune by edging the quick spinner Cummins beyond gully for four runs.
Cameron Green gave Crawley a leg before wicket when the score was 20, but the batsman reviewed the incident and found that the ball would have missed leg stump.
After Australia had dismissed Todd Murphy, they were without a specialist spinner in a Test match for the first time in 11 years. Part-time off-spinner Travis Head was withdrawn from the attack after a costly 0-48 in six overs, which included being swiped for six by Crawley.
After exceeding many people’s pre-match predictions, Moeen went out on ball 53 and then out on ball 54, caught by a diving Usman Khawaja after a terrific pull off by Starc.
Crawley reached the score of 97 with a perfect cover-driven four off the left-arm fast after entering the 90s with a sliced cut off Starc that zipped to the third man rope.
A more leisurely two off Cummins put the 25-year-old Crawley, who is a standard-bearer for England’s aggressive “Bazball” style under Stokes and red-ball coach Brendon McCullum, to a 93-ball century. Stokes and McCullum are responsible for Crawley’s rise to the position. The Kent batsman reached his second fifty in only 26 balls after the innings had begun.
Prior to this, Australia was bowled out after commencing their innings with a score of 299-8. None of their batters scored more than 51 runs, which was the total that was attained by both Marnus Labuschagne and all-rounder Marsh.
His first five-wicket haul in the Ashes came courtesy of Chris Woakes, who finished the innings with a score of 5-62.