Jonny Bairstow overcame pain and registered a fighting century – his seventh in Tests – but Australia retained control of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney. At stumps, England were 258 for 7 – still trailing by 158 – with Bairstow unbeaten on 103. This is the first century by an England batter this Ashes.
Though the rain delayed the start of the game, Australia quickly gained a stronghold by reducing England to 36 for 4 in the first session. The signs of England’s struggle were there pretty early on when Haseeb Hameed was dropped on the first ball of the third over. Mitchell Starc knocked over Hameed while Scott Boland nipped out Zak Crawley first and then dismissed Joe Root for a duck. Dawid Malan fell to the leg-side trap and was the last wicket to fall in the first session as he tapped a delivery on the pads to leg slip to give Cameron Green his first wicket.
For a period of 53 balls before the break, England failed to score a run and lost three wickets as the pressure continued to mount. The dot ball run extended to 70 before Ben Stokes finally got one off the bat. On the anniversary of their 399 against South Africa in Cape Town, it was once against Stokes and Bairstow who gave England hope.
The pair batted out the whole of the second session and extended their association to 99 to improve the mood in the camp. Their partnership didn’t quite please the fans, as expected, and both were given a mouthful while walking back to the dressing room at the Tea break. Stokes and Bairstow, eager to fight on, on the field and not ready to step back off it, stopped to make their displeasure clear about the things being said before the fans were evicted from the venue.
Apart from Stokes’s half-century, the second session turned out to be pretty mundane. The only drama that happened was on the first ball of the 30th over when a delivery from Cameron Green from round the wicket clipped the off stump but the bails stayed put. Bizarrely, Stokes was given out and forced to take the review. The replays showed that the left-hander had missed the ball by quite some distance and the decision was reversed.
Stokes and Bairstow eventually made 128 for the fifth wicket before Nathan Lyon trapped the former plumb in front for 66. On the first delivery of the 52nd over, Bairstow was stuck on the thumb by a rising Pat Cummins delivery and had to bat through the pain for the rest of the day. Jos Buttler made a duck while Mark Wood smashed 39 off 41 to help England avoid the follow on.
Bairstow and Wood made 72 off 72 before Cummins removed the latter to end the threatening stand. Bairstow got to his century in the final over of the day as he slashed a wide delivery from Cummins over point to get to the landmark off 138 balls.
Brief scores: Australia 416/8 decl. (Usman Khawaja 137; Stuart Broad 5-101) lead England 258/7 (Jonny Bairstow 103*; Scott Boland 2-25) by 158 runs.