Day two of fifth Ashes Test: England in need of quick wickets

England need early wickets on day two of the fifth Ashes Test to prevent Australia fully wrestling back momentum and taking a big step towards a 3-1 series win.

After the washout at Old Trafford ensured the urn will return home with Pat Cummins’ men, England entered this Kia Oval clash eyeing a victory to earn a share of the spoils in this series at 2-2.

Cummins finally called right at the toss and put England into bat, with Harry Brook’s fine 85 the highlight in bowler-friendly conditions as the hosts were skittled for 283 in 54.4 overs.

With most of the evening session left, England could only prize out David Warner, with Usman Khawaja unbeaten to take Australia to 61 for one at the close, 222 runs behind England’s total with the match evenly-poised.

View from the dressing room

Brook’s sentiments were also echoed by Mitchell Starc, who finished with figures of four for 82 despite a shoulder problem and declared it had been a “pretty even day”. It has been that way for the majority of this closely-fought Ashes, but both teams will know the winner on Friday will go a long way to deciding the final result of this series.

Duracell bunny Broad

A key figure on day two will be Stuart Broad, who is not only playing his sixth Test in the space of two months this week, but has continued a remarkable run of home Ashes appearances with this latest outing.

Since his debut against Australia in the 2009 opener in Cardiff, Broad has appeared in every home red-ball fixture against the old enemy with his Kia Oval run-out now making it 25 Ashes Tests in a row on home soil.

Broad back in May admitted it would be nigh-on impossible for a seamer to play in all six of England’s Tests – including the four-day fixture against Ireland – this summer, but he has managed it and will relish his latest chance to terrorise the Aussies on day two.

Super Mo!

Moeen Ali

England’s Moeen Ali plays the ramp shot for four (Mike Egerton/PA)

Question marks remain over Moeen Ali’s fitness but the all-rounder did still produce a number of superb shots in an entertaining knock of 34, including a ramp for four off Starc that landed just inside the boundary rope.

England’s emergency spinner had been watchful on his way to 11 off 36 balls before he pulled up while running through for Brook’s quick single. After he had treatment, he continued in real discomfort but proceeded to smash 23 off his next nine balls until he was bowled by Todd Murphy.

An official diagnosis arrived later that a groin injury would keep Moeen off the field during Australia’s innings on day one. He will continue to be monitored but given this will likely be his final Test, you wonder if the 36-year-old will try wheel himself out for one or two more throws of the dice. If Moeen can play some further part, it may go a long way to helping England level the series.

Brook bashes the Aussies again

Brook, the youngest member of England’s XI, played a crucial hand and showed plenty of maturity to go with a strike rate of 93.40 after he clattered 13 boundaries in this fourth half-century of the series.

He walked in at 73 for three and was dropped on five by Alex Carey, but soon found his range. Mitch Marsh was heaved away for six before one Starc over went for 14 runs after another maximum.

It saw Brook accelerate to 64 off 57 deliveries to again raise the prospect of Gilbert Jessop’s quickest ever Test hundred for England being beaten, but the Yorkshire batter dropped anchor after Moeen’s injury. While he was not able to make a maiden Ashes century, Brook’s 85 could prove a match-winning knock and rubber-stamped the growing excitement around him.

407 is the magic number

  1. Zak Crawley – 407 runs

  2. Usman Khawaja – 403 runs

  3. Ben Stokes – 363 runs

  4. Harry Brook – 356

  5. Joe Root – 321

Zak Crawley’s 189 at Old Trafford took him to the top of the run-scoring charts of this Ashes series and he maintained his position in first place with an overall total of 407 despite only making 22 on day one of the fifth Test.

A sumptuous punch down the ground for four against Mitchell Marsh saw Crawley bring up the 400-run mark but he is not the only player to hit that milestone after Khawaja made it to the close unbeaten on 26, moving him on to 403 runs for the series.

The Aussie opener is one of six candidates realistically in the running to finish as the series highest run-scorer alongside Crawley, Ben Stokes, Brook, Travis Head (315) and Marnus Labuschagne (315), with Joe Root probably having too much to do on 321 but with only one innings left.

All eyes on Pat

Australia may have retained the Ashes but they have not prevented Cummins’ copping plenty of criticism. Aussie great Mark Waugh suggested he should be replaced as skipper and Glenn McGrath and Tim Paine have admitted the seamer looks worn out.

If anyone needed a good day one in south London, it was Cummins and he finally called correctly at the toss. Despite a debateable field to England’s openers, his change of bowling regularly worked with Marsh making the breakthrough and Murphy able to strike in his first over.

Cummins bowled impressively, especially during his first spell, but claimed one for 66 off 13 overs after watching two catches put down. Nevertheless, he can keep the critics quiet with a first series win in England since 2001 – although the seamer will know by now that Stokes’ side just keep coming back at you.

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