By Paul Edwards
England 67 and 156 for 3 (Root 75*, Denly 50) need 203 runs to beat Australia 179 and 246 (Labuschagne 80, Stokes 3-56)
That was more like it. It was more like the type of resistance one wishes to see from England’s cricketers and it was more like a Test Match as most of those at Emerald Headingley understand the term. For the day after they had been castigated for gross incompetence, Joe Root and his batsmen did the groundwork – it really is no more – for the biggest successful run-chase in their country’s Test history. When England began the task of scoring 359 to win just before lunch on this third day some supporters feared they might have a free Saturday evening. Instead, Root and Ben Stokes returned to the pavilion with their side on 156 for three. Root might have settled for that when his side’s innings began and he had done much of the dirty work himself by making an unbeaten 75.
But a moment of realism is needed. England are not even halfway to their target and Australia, whose bowlers choked the run rate quite brilliantly in this evening session, remain favourites to complete the win that would retain the Ashes. But the cricketing particicution some expected has not taken place. And certainly it is better to be hopeful, as England are now, than hopeless, as they were on Friday morning.