Lunch England 403 (Malan 140, Bairstow 119, Stoneman 56, Starc 4-91, Hazlewood 3-92) v Australia
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Jonny Bairstow scored his first Test century in 18 months, but Australia fought back strongly in the opening session on day two at the WACA, where they bowled England out for 403. England began the morning at 4 for 305 and although Bairstow and Dawid Malan compiled England’s all-time highest Ashes fifth-wicket partnership, the end of their 237-run stand led to a resurgence from the Australians, who claimed the last six wickets for 35 runs in less than 10 overs.
Mitchell Starc finished with 4 for 91 and Josh Hazlewood picked up 3 for 92 as the WACA’s bounce troubled the England lower order. The last man out was Stuart Broad, who walked across his stumps in an effort to hook a Starc bouncer – in the previous over he had cleared the boundary in a similar manner off Hazlewood – and lobbed a catch up to Cameron Bancroft at short leg.
Earlier, Bairstow had brought up his hundred from his 185th delivery with a single to fine leg, and fittingly celebrated with an understated headbutt to his own helmet. The innings was Bairstow’s first Test century since he made an unbeaten 167 against Sri Lanka at Lord’s in June 2016, ending a drought of 37 innings without reaching triple-figures. His efforts certainly justified England’s decision to promote Bairstow back up to No. 6 ahead of Moeen Ali.
Malan and Bairstow continued to frustrate the Australians during the morning, including when Steven Smith called for an ill-advised review when Starc swung one in to strike the pads of Malan, with the ball clearly heading down leg side. Malan and Bairstow broke the 79-year-old England Ashes record for a fifth-wicket partnership, which had been held by Denis Compton and Eddie Paynter, who put on 206 at Trent Bridge in 1938.
The partnership finally ended when Malan was brilliantly caught by substitute fieldsman Peter Handscomb off the bowling of Nathan Lyon for 140. Malan failed to get to the pitch of the ball and in trying to hit Lyon over the top, succeeded only in spooning an edge up into the off side, where Handscomb ran briskly from backward point and took the catch while diving forward at full stretch, the kind of effort that Australia needed to turn their game around.
Moeen lasted only two deliveries before the extra bounce from Pat Cummins troubled him and the ball lobbed off his glove to Smith at slip. Another fine catch, this time from Cummins at long leg, ended Chris Woakes’ innings on 8 off the bowling of Hazlewood, before Starc curled one in to rattle the stumps of Bairstow, who was bowled for 119.
A short delivery from Hazlewood accounted for Craig Overton, who on 2 managed only to fend the ball to Bancroft at short leg, and the fall of that ninth wicket led to the extension of the session, which had been on the verge of the lunch break. Australia wrapped up the innings with the wicket of Broad, and the six-wicket session was a major confidence boost for Smith’s men, who will reclaim the Ashes if they win the Perth Test.