England batsman Joe Denly insisted his side never lost faith in their ability to pull off what would be one of the most astounding wins in Ashes history after collapsing to 67 all out in the third Test against Australia at Headingley.
England’s woeful total – their lowest in Ashes cricket for 71 years – appeared to have ended any hopes they had in this match of squaring the five-Test series at 1-1.
But resuming on day four, England are 156-3 in their second innings, needing a further 203 runs to reach a match-winning target of 359.
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England captain Joe Root is 75 not out after sharing a stand of 126 in 53 overs with Denly that rescued his team from yet more top-order embarrassment at 15-2.
“It’s never ideal when you get bowled out for 67, it wasn’t good enough and we had to show a bit of fight and a bit of character in the second innings.” Denly said.
“We understand there is a tricky period in the morning with the new ball coming up.
“But we have Rooty and Stokesy (Ben Stokes is two not following his unbeaten 115 in the drawn second Test at Lord’s) – two world-class batters in.”
Saturday also saw Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne score 80 – his third successive Test fifty since coming in as world cricket’s inaugural concussion substitute for Steve Smith after the star batsman was hit by a Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s.
Labuschagne missed out on a maiden Test century by running himself out, but he was still pleased with his recent run of scores which included 74 in the first innings – seven more than England managed between them.
“As a batter you want to score hundreds but it was more about getting as big a lead as we could,” said Labuschagne.
If Australia win this match they will retain the Ashes and Labuschagne said it would not take much to derail England’s bid for victory.
“That’s how it works over here, you always find there’s big partnerships but then there’s one, two, three wickets. It can happen very quickly,” he added.