Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket
England 200 for 5 (Stokes 7*, Bairstow 2*) trail Australia 497 for 8 (Smith 211, Labuschagne 67) by 297 runs
Strap yourselves back in. After an atypically fallow period on the third afternoon at Old Trafford, the 2019 Ashes rollercoaster is primed for another nail-biting weekend, thanks to a brilliant late intervention from Josh Hazlewood that has reignited Australia's quest for their first series win in England since 2001.
By the close of another rain-shortened day, the discipline and endurance shown by Joe Root and Rory Burns in the course of their four-hour stand of 141 was fading as fast as the bad light that eventually spared England any further examination. They limped to the close on 200 for 5, still 98 runs shy of saving the follow-on - or, more realistically, still two batting sessions shy of ensuring Australia run out of time to turn the screw in the fourth innings.
England have learned far too much about their batting frailties in recent times to start counting any chickens at any stage of any innings. And yet, while Root and Burns were in harness, blunting Australia's ever-ripe seamers with judicious shot selection, while seeing off the threat of a sharp-turning Nathan Lyon too, they did appear to have begun to learn from those frailties as well.
But then, just as some signs of the raggedness that had undermined England's efforts in the field were beginning to afflict the Australians, their depth of seam quality shone through at the last. Both set batsmen were blasted from the crease in quick and undignified succession, with the hapless Jason Roy following meekly soon afterwards, as Hazlewood combined the merest hint of reverse swing with his natural edge-threatening discipline to produce an unanswerable burst of 3 for 17 in 4.5 overs.
First to go was Burns, whose 81 from 185 balls was arguably his finest innings of the series to date - he had certainly required more luck in the course of his Edgbaston century, as this time he proved equal to Australia's short-ball approach, judging the length early and swaying late when needs be, to eat up deliveries with a voracity that no other opener in this series has come close to replicating. Indeed, in the course of his innings, he became both the first non-Alastair Cook England opener to face 700 balls in an Ashes series since Root (remember him?) in 2013, and the first England opener of any type to score three fifties in a series since Cook against Pakistan in 2016.
But in the end, Hazlewood proved simply too good - ripping the ball off Burns' edge as he cramped him for room from over the wicket, for Steve Smith to cling on low at second slip. And one over later, Root was gone as well - pinned on the crease by a delivery so full and straight that he could barely bring himself to look at umpire Dharmasena as the finger went up, let alone burn a review.
Root's innings of 71, hot on the heels of his 77 at Headingley, was - tellingly - his first back-to-back Test fifty since the 2017-18 Ashes, a fact which doubtless mitigated his disappointment at once again failing to convert a start. It's been a while, after all, since he has had anything to convert at all.
The main feature of his innings was his balance against the quicks, particularly after his judgement of his off stump had come through a stern and sustained test against Hazlewood in the morning session. Against Lyon's fizzing turn he was less sure-footed, however - perhaps mindful of his rash dismissal at Headingley when he had been caught on the charge early on the fourth day.
And yet he endured, and briefly appeared to have run into the sort of good fortune that has deserted him in recent innings, when he edged Pat Cummins through the gap between keeper and first slip, moments after bringing up his fifty with a chop through point for four. He took his blows too - an eye-watering crack amidships from Mitchell Starc that broke his box in two, and a painful blow on the knee, in the course of a wasteful review for lbw, that required lengthy treatment.
But then, just as Root was trying to refocus after the loss of Burns, Hazlewood proved too good for him too, and England's anxieties were writ large across the final hour. And, having started the day with the third-ball extraction of the nightwatchman, Craig Overton - Hazlewood mirrored that achievement by blowing away Roy with what proved to his third-from-last ball of the day.
The cocksure dominance with which Roy had carried England's World Cup campaign was nowhere to be seen in another skittish display. Having been spared the new ball on the first evening following Joe Denly's sacrificial promotion, Roy ought in theory to have been more at home with the shine long gone in the 64th over. But instead he began with ten agonisingly blotted dot-balls, followed by a spring-loaded cover drive for four that begged more questions than it answered.
And sure enough, it wasn't long before his stay was executed, Hazlewood scorching an inducker through another hard-handed, aggressive block-drive that plucked out his middle stump with his feet and hands in different postcodes. If, somewhere beneath the misjudgements, Roy still retains the technique for Test cricket, as many fine judges insist, then right now it seems his mental game is shot, no matter where in the order England hide him. And that is just one of many reasons why England really, really need to avoid having to bat again for any length of time in this contest.
And, so, once again, England's Ashes hopes would appear to be back in the hands of a familiar character. Ben Stokes arrived at the crease to the most raucous ovation of the day, and duly survived a low edge into the cordon at the start of a sustained examination from Lyon, whose wickets have dried up since Lord's but whose threat remains very clear and present.
Stokes, however, managed to grind to the close on 7 not out, with Jonny Bairstow - the unsung catalyst of the Headingley miracle - alongside him once again on 2, and their objective when play resumes will be clear as it was at the start of the third day. Full-blown heroics can wait for another day. Dogged survival will suffice for the remainder of this game, as England hope against hope that they can keep the Ashes alive into next week's final Test.
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