Mitchell Starc’s brilliant new-ball burst in the morning session strengthened Australia’s grip on the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.
England resumed under grey skies in trouble on 200-5 in reply to the tourists’ 497-8 declared, after Josh Hazlewood did late damage on the third day.
Joe Root’s side were 278-8 at lunch on Saturday, with Jonny Bairstow (17) and Headingley hero Ben Stokes (26) dismissed by the excellent Starc (2-66) before Pat Cummins saw the back of Jofra Archer.
Jos Buttler was unbeaten on 26, but England trailed by a mammoth 219 and needed another 20 runs to avoid the follow-on as Australia scented a victory that would give them a 2-1 lead – and ensure they retain the urn.
Starc struggled on day three of his first match of the series, but showed his class with the second new ball by generating late swing to bowl Bairstow, who was punished for attempting an extravagant drive.
— OptaJim (@OptaJim) September 7, 2019
Stokes rode his luck, almost chopping on before the dangerous Starc spilled him off his own bowling when he was on 19.
The all-rounder did not last much longer, though, and was furious with himself after edging Starc into the safe hands of Steve Smith, who took his third catch of the innings at second slip.
Archer was fortunate not to be run out casually going through for a single and it was no surprise when he was caught behind off Cummins with an ugly waft, reducing England to 256-8.
Buttler struck five boundaries as he took a positive approach and Stuart Broad was still there at the break after receiving treatment on his elbow, but Australia remained in complete control.