Ben Stokes made a century before Joe Root called him and Jonny Bairstow in prior to tea as England declared with a 266-run lead over Australia on the final day of the second Ashes Test.
In an intriguing encounter blighted by rain throughout the five days at Lord’s, Root rolled the dice with England 258-5 and Stokes unbeaten on 115 in a bid to level up the series, giving his bowlers 48 overs in which to dismiss the tourists.
However, a victory target of 267 was also tantalising enough for Australia to think they could end up victorious.
Yet they were missing star batsman Steve Smith after it was confirmed he would play no further part in London due to the delayed concussion he suffered having been struck on the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer on Saturday.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 18, 2019
After the start of play was delayed by the elements, Stokes and Jos Buttler (31) put on 61 in the first session as England reached lunch on 157-4, a lead of 165.
Buttler failed to add to his total after the resumption, top-edging Pat Cummins (3-35) down to Josh Hazlewood at long leg.
Australia hoped Stokes would follow him back when he was on 55 as they reviewed an lbw appeal from Nathan Lyon but, after a lengthy delay due to issues with the technology, England’s batsman survived.
Both Stokes and Bairstow (30 not out) upped the ante thereafter, the former sweeping Lyon (0-102) into the crowd from successive deliveries as the advantage moved beyond 200.
A single to square leg gave Stokes his seventh international century, his first since August 2017 and his second against Australia, at the ground where his heroics had helped deliver the Cricket World Cup for his country last month.
Root brought his batsman in following the completion of the next over, the 71st of the innings, in order to try and force the issue against an Australian side shorn of their key man.