Australia has seized control of the Lord’s Ashes Test after a frantic England collapse and another disciplined knock from opener Usman Khawaja headlined day three at St John’s Wood.
England lost 6-47 during an eventful morning session, bowled out for 325 to give Australia a 91-run first-innings lead. In response, the visitors cruised towards 2-130 before rain forced a premature close to play, with Khawaja (58*) and Steve Smith (6*) unbeaten at stumps.
England shot themselves in the foot on Friday afternoon with a dropped catch, which gifted Khawaja an extra life on 19, and an ill-judged non-review that denied Stuart Broad a much-needed wicket.
Australia currently leads by 221 runs, and England requires nothing less than a herculean effort in the fourth innings to prevent Pat Cummins’ side from taking a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
MATCH CENTRE: Live stats, scorecard and more
Earlier, Nathan Lyon arrived at the iconic venue on crutches, with Cricket Australia confirming the veteran spinner has suffered a “significant calf strain”, putting his availability for the remainder of the series under severe doubt.
After resuming day three at 4-278, England lost their remaining six wickets in less than 90 minutes, with paceman Mitchell Starc and part-time spinner Travis Head each snaring two wickets.
Ben Stokes fell on his second delivery of the day after Starc found the England captain’s leading edge on 17, with Cameron Green taking yet another superb catch at gully.
Stokes sent walking from second ball! | 00:28
Harry Brook, who was dropped by Marnus Labuschagne the previous evening, brought up his maiden Ashes fifty in 63 deliveries — but couldn’t convert the start into a substantial score, departing for 50.
The 24-year-old backed away and awkwardly swatted at a Starc bouncer, gifting rival captain Pat Cummins a regulation catch at extra cover — an ugly dismissal that exposed England’s long tail.
Brook gone with VERY questionable shot | 00:32
Immediately after the drinks break, wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, England’s last recognised batter, attempted a lofted drive against Josh Hazlewood, instead chipping a chance towards Cummins at mid-on. Soon after, Green delivered a brutal bouncer that struck Stuart Broad near the jaw, but thankfully the Englishman avoided serious damage.
Ollie Robinson was the next to depart, skipping down the pitch at Head and nicking behind to wicketkeeper Alex Carey, who claimed his umpteenth classy catch of the series.
Head struck again later in the same over, trapping a sweeping Broad on the pads for 12 — a desperate review couldn’t save the Englishman.
Cummins wrapped up the innings with a well-directed bouncer at Josh Tongue, which was fended towards substitute fielder Matthew Renshaw at short leg for 1. After dominating day two, England had slipped from 1-188 to 325 all out, swinging momentum firmly back in Australia’s favour.
Australian openers David Warner and Khawaja survived a nervy 20-minute passage of play before lunch — the floodlights needed to be switched on after dark clouds descended on London.
James Anderson thought he had unearthed a breakthrough early in the afternoon session, reviewing an LBW decision against Warner — but replays showed a thick inside edge onto the pads.
The introduction of Josh Tongue almost did the trick for England, but Khawaja’s pull shot burst through Anderson’s hands at square leg and raced away for a boundary — it was the only chance he offered on day three.
After a 63-run opening partnership, Tongue nipped a delivery into Warner’s pads from around the wicket, with the veteran batter wasting a review before trudging back to the sheds for 25.
Tongue almost knocked over Marnus Labuschagne in his following over, with umpire Ahsan Raza giving the Australian No. 3 out LBW — only for the decision to be overturned when Hawkeye showed that impact was outside off.
Labuschagne survived the final two deliveries before the tea break, with Broad’s back-to-back celebrappeals for caught behind and LBW failing to convince umpire Chris Gaffaney. Stokes wisely elected not to review either decision.
It was third time’s the charm for Broad — after the lunch break, the England veteran trapped Labuschagne on the pads, sprinting towards the slips cordon without consulting Gaffaney, who didn’t raise the dreaded finger.
Stokes once again denied the review — but on this occasion, Hawkeye suggested the ball would have crashed into leg stump, with Labuschagne surviving on 15.
The Queenslander couldn’t make the most of his reprieve, lazily cutting a loose delivery from Anderson towards point and departing for 30.
Khawaja reached fifty for the third time in the series with an elegant straight drive down the ground before the rain arrived in London, forcing a premature end to day three.
Despite the weather interruption, it was a near-perfect day for the Australians, who will look to extend their lead before hunting the ten wickets required for victory — albeit without Lyon at their disposal.