Chris Woakes is England’s key man as they move to verge of victory

Chris Woakes is England's key man as they move to verge of victory (Mike Egerton/PA)
Chris Woakes is England's key man as they move to verge of victory (Mike Egerton/PA)

Chris Woakes’ memorable new-ball burst helped to put England on the verge of a resounding victory by the close of day three against a Cricket Australia XI at the Adelaide Oval.

Before the hosts limped to 70 for seven, England had already overcome their own collapse of four second-innings wickets for three runs.

They hit trouble chiefly against Simon Milenko (five for 34), as the pink ball zipped around under lights and cloud cover in this day-night trial match.

STUMPS: CA XI end the day 70/7 and we will come back to the Adelaide Oval tomorrow #Ashes https://t.co/XEJfQruXf6 pic.twitter.com/SsrvgWvZ8Q

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 10, 2017

But Mark Stoneman’s third successive 50 on his maiden Ashes tour, and Jonny Bairstow’s telling 61 not out, carried them to 207 all out and set 268 to win.

That target then quickly disappeared over the darkening horizon for CA as Woakes took over with an opening spell of four for 12.

He struck with his second delivery, bowling Jake Carder on the defence, and soon had CA’s other opener Nick Larkin caught-behind and Will Pucovski at gully.

Craig Overton bowled home captain Tim Paine on the defence, then had Jason Sangha caught at second slip, with Ryan Gibson edging Woakes behind.

The wickets are tumbling in Adelaide.CA XI are 18/5 and @chriswoakes has 4/12 ???? #Asheshttps://t.co/CezsCGGB0U pic.twitter.com/sY2ya3OYgj

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 10, 2017

James Anderson, wicketless with the new ball, soon put that right in his second spell to make it 25 for seven before Matt Short (28no) and Gurinder Sandhu (17no) managed to inflict the minor inconvenience of a Saturday afternoon resumption.

England’s chief concern nonetheless remains Alastair Cook’s extended wait for a substantial score, as his struggle for 32 in an opening stand of 79 took his tally since mid-August to 108 in seven attempts.

But they had plenty more to think about too, once Milenko and Sandhu got started.

Cook’s stay was at times tortured, bringing him a solitary run from his first 22 balls, featuring two close calls for lbw on 16 against first-change Milenko and an edge between wicketkeeper and slip on 30 off leg-spin debutant Daniel Fallins.

The men have been bowled out for 207 with @jbairstow21 61 not out.CA XI need 268 to win #Asheshttps://t.co/vNyMCUAXuR pic.twitter.com/pc1N04wpcX

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 10, 2017

England’s all-time leading Test runscorer is nothing if not determined, though, and the tourists can only hope his scrambled thirtysomething – before edging a cut behind off Milenko – can prove an improbable launchpad for a prosperous campaign after all.

Stoneman reached his 100-ball half-century just before the end of the first session, only to fall without addition after tea when he chopped a cut back on to his stumps off left-arm seamer Jackson Coleman.

Joe Root might have been run out for a duck, had a throw from cover hit the stumps, but it mattered little because Sandhu soon had him lbw pushing forward for one.

Then came the real clatter for England, with Australia coach Darren Lehmann in attendance as a very interested observer.

James Anderson has been named as our vice captain #Ashes pic.twitter.com/OZbXah1lTr

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 10, 2017

Dawid Malan edged Milenko behind and James Vince was suddenly unable to find the line after a previously promising start and fell to a third lbw appeal in the over from Sandhu.

Milenko made very short work of Woakes, caught-behind, and Overton lbw three balls later for a pair in the match as England’s collapse extended to seven wickets for 45 runs.

With Jake Ball unavailable, having scans on the ankle he sprained the previous day, England badly needed their eighth-wicket stand of 70 between Bairstow and Mason Crane.

The latter eventually poked Fallins to point, but Anderson took long enough over his duck for Bairstow to reach a 61-ball half-century and pass England’s 200 too with a slog-sweep for six off the leg-spinner.

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