Belligerent England build massive lead as Broad makes shock retirement call
Fifties from Zak Crawley, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow helped England attain a lead of 377 at stumps on day three in the final Ashes Test at The Oval, with Australia facing a mountain to climb if they are to chase down the victory target over the final two days.
England went to stumps at 389/9, with veteran pacer Stuart Broad revealing after play that the Test at The Oval will be his last and he will retire from Test cricket at the completion of the series.
Earlier, Mitchell Starc led Australia's comeback with a four-for in the final session but England's fiery display in the first two sessions helped put them in the box seat for victory and to level the series at two games apiece.
It didn't take long for England at the start of Day 3 to get rid of the meagre 12-run deficit with Ben Duckett and Crawley only dealing in boundaries early in the innings. The opening pair added more than 50 runs for the second time in the Test match as they dealt with the Aussie bowling without much trouble.
It was Starc who finally struck in the 16th over, inducing an edge of Duckett's bat into the safe hands of Alex Carey. Although initially given not out, DRS came to Australia's rescue and umpire Kumar Dharmasena had to reverse his decision.
With Moeen Ali dealing with a groin injury and not taking the field for England's bowling innings, he incurred a time penalty which meant he could only bat after lunch or after his team lost five wickets. In his absence, Ben Stokes promoted himself up the order and looked at ease in the new batting position at No.3.
Crawley continued to ride his rich vein of form and soon got to his half-century, his third score in excess of 50 in the Ashes series. Together, Stokes and Crawley took England safely to lunch at 130/1 with a leading of 118.
Stokes got a reprieve in the very first over of the second session with Starc dropping a difficult chance on the boundary which resulted in a six. Crawley, though, didn't have much luck going his way as Cummins snared his wicket in the very next over to a flashy drive that carried to slip.
That brought Joe Root out to the crease and the runs continued to flow for England. Root, who has embraced the aggressive side to his batting under Bazball, found boundaries with ease, which included a brilliant reverse scoop for six off Mitchell Marsh's bowling.
Root raced to his fifty off just 42 balls but his partnership with Stokes soon came to an end as the latter failed to clear the in-field in his attempt to smash Todd Murphy. One brought two for Australia as Hazlewood struck in the very next over to remove the dangerous Harry Brook.
Jonny Bairstow was aggressive from the get-go as England's lead swelled to over 250 by tea.
There was no respite for Australia even after the break as Root and Bairstow continued to keep the scorecard ticking. It took only 60 balls for Bairstow to bring up his fifty and the shackles were off thereafter as the wicketkeeper-batter took the attack to the Aussies.
At the other end, Root looked well on course for a century before Murphy got one to turn off the rough to bowl the English batter out on 91.
A few over later, Bairstow followed Root back into the pavilion after nicking one to Carey off the bowling of Starc. The left-arm pacer then ran through the lower order with wickets of Chris Woakes and Moeen to claim a four-wicket haul.
James Anderson, who walked out to a standing ovation, survived an LBW decision that was overturned by DRS and batted out until stumps. England finished on 389/9 with a lead of 377 runs.