Owing the departure of Joe Root, England were struck with a blow in the last over of the fourth day. The start of the fifth day wasn’t brighter as they lost Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes in the first session. However, Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler fought their way through the session. The pair even negotiated the early threats of the second new ball. But Jhye Richardson provided the needed breakthrough after the drinks break in the second session.
Though Buttler is running through a lean patch, he continued to resist Australia an early win until the unwanted happened. After facing 206 balls, most of them on the back-foot, Buttler leaped back a further too long and kicked his own stumps to be dismissed through the most awkward mode, hit-wicket. There on, it was just a matter of few balls before Australia could go 2-0 up. Richardson finished it off in style with a five-wicket haul and Australia registered yet another big win in day/night Tests and kept their 100 percent win record intact. Here are a few notable stats from the fifth day.
As safe as Steve Smith
In recent times, there are hardly few fielders who are exceptional in slips, the hot-spot region of catching in Tests. Steve Smith certainly tops in the list. Apart from one catch that he dropped off Dawid Malan, Smith’s hands have been as safe as a kangaroo’s pouch. In the second Test, he pouched six catches in a match for the fourth time. No other fielder in Test history has achieved this feat more than thrice. In fact, only two other fielders have achieved it multiple times in Tests. Stephen Fleming has bagged six catches in a match thrice and Mahela Jayawardene twice.
Abundance of bowlers in the last two innings
In the second innings of a Test – third and fourth combined – the search for results forces the team's prime bowlers to bowl as many overs as possible. But, there are even possibilities of part time bowlers chipping in if the innings is a prolonged one. The second Test was an example of it. Seven different bowlers bowled for England in the third innings and eight for Australia in the fourth innings. For Australia, mainly it was to fill in the quota of 10-odd overs nearing the new ball. In any case, this was only the second instance in this century, where teams had used 15 different bowlers in the last two innings of a Test. In the most famous match of this century, India vs Australia in Kolkata in 2001, Australia had used nine in the third innings and India had used six in the fourth.
The most awkward dismissal
There are few embarrassing modes to be dismissed in cricket, handing-the ball, obstructing the field and few more. However, none is as embarrassing as getting dismissed through hit-wicket. Buttler’s all efforts went in vain when he kicked his own stumps in the 110th over. In the history of Test cricket for England, he was only the third wicket-keeper batsman to be dismissed off this mode. Adding salt to injury, he became the second wicket-keeper batsman after Romesh Kaluwitarana in 1997 against West Indies.
A resistance contradictory of his nature
Renowned as one of the most fearsome strikers of the game, Buttler produced an innings completely opposite to his nature. When Buttler is batting at one end, usually, the expectation of runs flowing briskly is never a disappointment. But, in the fourth innings Buttler batted 200+ balls for his 26 runs and had a strike rate of 12.6. In Tests where ball data is available, among players who have batted 200+ balls in an innings, only two players had a lower strike rate, Hashim Amla (10.2) in 2015 against India in Delhi and Jack Russell (12.3) in 1995 against South Africa in Johannesburg.
Root in the highs and lows of England Test cricket
Not long ago, Root became the best captain of England with 27 wins in Tests via a win over India in the third Test match in Leeds in 2021. Six months later, with two losses, in two Tests this series, Root has recorded the most losses for an England captain in Tests. Throughout the year, Root has tasted the highest success as well as the lowest for England.
Nine wins – Eight different match winners
It’s not just because Australia has a 100 percent win record in day/night Tests that make them the most successful team. In every match, they have had a different man of the match winner. In nine wins, they have had eight different players who have bagged the award. In one of their matches against Pakistan in 2016, Asad Shafiq was handed the award. Coming back to Australia, three times bowlers have won the awards and the batsmen have won five, including Labuschagne in this match.
A drought of wins
The wait for a win in Australia continues for England. The last time England won a match in Australia was in 2011 in Sydney. Sir Andrew Strauss was still leading England and Root hadn’t made his debut in Tests. Post that win, England have played 12 matches till now including this and have suffered 11 losses and one draw. In the Ashes history, only once did they suffer a similar drought. In Tests from 1937 till 1951, England had played 12 matches, where they had drawn twice and lost 10 times.