Not many expected the third Ashes test to be wrapped up inside 90 minutes on day three, but it was an unbelievable spell from Scott Boland and a dramatic English collapse that ensured Australia returned the urn within the first session at the MCG.
Joe Root and Ben Stokes took to the crease on the third morning looking to defy Australia’s bowlers and surpass their first innings lead.
But when Stokes fell to Starc, Boland took over and ruined England’s hopes in the space of two overs.
Here are the moments that mattered on Day 3 at the MCG.
Starc jags one back to remove Stokes early
Following last night’s rampant finish, Australia headed into the third day knowing that breaking the partnership of Ben Stokes and Joe Root could lead to a quick victory.
But the task looked like it was going to be a difficult one when Stokes got going, playing a pair of imperious straight drives off Mitchell Starc that rattled to the boundary. Having been brought into this Ashes series underdone with a knee injury, Stokes looked to have finally found his form with the bat.
Just as Australian fans began to shudder at the thought of a Headingley 2019 repeat, Starc intervened with an absolute peach of a delivery.
Swinging back into the left-hander, Starc managed to nip one through the gap between Stokes’ bat and pad, clipping the top of middle stump and sending the dangerous all-rounder back to the pavilion early on day three with England still 36 runs behind Australia’s first innings lead.
Despite some lovely shots to open up, Starc ensured Australia started the morning on the front foot.
Boland breaks England’s back on his field of dreams
In a rampant first hour for the Aussies, Scott Boland returned to strike hammer blows upon England’s chance of surviving on day three.
Having taken two crucial wickets in one over in the final forays of day two, Boland returned to the crease and struck instantly on day three, trapping Bairstow in front in his first over of the day.
Bairstow reviewed the decision, but ball tracker showed that the impact was umpire’s call, meaning the number six had to make the dreaded walk back to the pavilion early.
But on the stroke of drinks, Boland landed an even bigger blow, as his nagging line and length proved too much for Joe Root. The world’s number one test batter fought valiantly in the first hour, but ultimately edged Boland to Warner at first slip on the last ball before the drinks break.
Last Test it was Jhye Richardson doing the damage in the second innings, but at Melbourne it was Scott Boland making hay at his home deck.
But if the Boland masterpiece was meant to finish at the drinks break, the Victorian quick didn’t read the script.
Post-drinks he was electric and virtually unplayable, snatching a caught and bowled chance off Mark Wood to claim a maiden five-wicket haul in his debut test. While the MCG erupted every time Boland thundered in, he kept delivering. Just two balls later he had Ollie Robinson edging to Marnus Labuschagne in the slips.
In terms of the history books, Boland’s efforts won’t ever be forgotten, as he finished with 6/7 off only four overs to bowl Australia to the cusp of another Ashes victory.
Green seals convincing series win in just 82 minutes
The Ashes winning moments are always memorable ones.
In 2013/14 it was James Anderson popping one up to George Bailey at bat pad at the WACA. In 2017/18 it was a Pat Cummins slower ball to slips that did the trick. In 2021, it was young all-rounder Cameron Green who ripped through Anderson’s defences to seal the 3-0 series scoreline.
After Boland’s destruction up the other end, it was Green from the Members’ End who got to live the dream.
His bowling had been quick and impressive all match, giving him the chance to claim the memorable final wicket that’ll be replayed for years to come. He duly delivered, bowling straight past Anderson to rattle the stumps and send Australia into jubilant party mode.Embed from Getty Images
In just under an hour and a half, Australia claimed the Ashes on day three, with England all out for 68 in dramatic fashion. Green’s wicket ensured Australia returned the urn in dominant style.
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