And welcome to stay protection of the fourth day’s play from the fourth Check on the SCG. That is not a sentence I assumed I might be writing earlier this morning when the rain lastly relented and 36 for one quickly grew to become 36 for 2, 36 for 3 and 36 for 4 as England’s solely two batsmen with half-centuries within the collection, Joe Root and Dawid Malan, fell to Australia’s tall, mercilessly exact and fast bowlers in probably the most dispiriting passage of play in an already demoralising collection. Every of the strokes payed by the openers and Nos 3 and 4 which led to their dismissals was wince-inducing and incited an urge to show to drink at 2.30am.
And but, hope deserted, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, at first watchfully, tentatively and, in Stokes’ case streakily when the ball cannoned into off-stump however the granite like soil would not enable the stump any buy to maneuver and dislodge clung on after which started to bat with their common character, buried beneath grim software all collection. Now, by advantage of Stokes’ 66 and Bairstow’s unbeaten 103 regardless of that bowel-shrivelling blow on the tip of his thumb plus the efforts of Mark Wooden’s dauntless coronary heart in contributing 39 of probably the most joyful runs one might ever want to witness, England have salvaged the opportunity of a draw, significantly given Scott Boland’s stiffness after crashing to earth on the crease when bowling so properly.
Sure, they’re nonetheless 158 runs behind, have solely three wickets remaining and the brand new ball is due in 10 overs however simply by exhibiting some spirit in addition to talent, these wanting England to prosper can now, no less than, hope in opposition to hope.
Bitter expertise tells us it is typically at instances like this, after they have revived some optimism as on the Gabba on the fourth night, that they disintegrate once more on resumption however, though they’re anticipated to begin on time at 11pm GMT, with a 90 per cent likelihood of showers, heavy clouds and “the possibility of a thunderstorm, probably extreme”, England can escape.
It will not be straightforward. Australia have formidable bowlers, Nathan Lyon is never tonked two days in a row and Boland might have recovered from final night time’s lameness. But, time could be on England’s facet if three or 4 extra present the identical pluck as Stokes, Bairstow and Wooden. We are able to dream …