England stall Aust Ashes momentum

Mitch Marsh struck late in Saturday’s morning session but England have otherwise stalled Australia’s push for a series-levelling win in the second Ashes Test.

England resumed at 4-85 on day three, reaching 5-181 at lunch thanks largely to a 145-run stand between Ben Stokes and Alastair Cook.

The hosts require a further 186 runs to pass the follow-on at Lord’s, where Steve Smith’s maiden double-century powered Australia to a total of 8(dec)-566 on day two.

Cook was unbeaten on 56 at the meal break, scoring at a strike-rate of 33.53 to suggest he will provide the sternest resistance in England’s stonewall.

Cook suffered a nasty blow on the arm after attempting to leave a short ball from Mitchell Johnson in the penultimate over of the session.

He received treatment from England medical staff but batted out the rest of the session.

Stokes fell the previous over for 87 after playing with typical aggression in an impressive knock that featured 14 boundaries.

The allrounder chopped on a ball from Marsh that stayed low, having survived a review on 60 when the tourists mistakenly thought they’d trapped him lbw.

It was otherwise a chance-less session, giving England hope of salvaging a draw.

Adam Voges remained off the field for the duration of Saturday’s morning session, having suffered a painful blow to the ribs while fielding at short leg on day two.

Mitchell Starc received treatment on his back but stayed on the park and was able to bowl.

“I played a Test match in 2008 where we made South Africa follow on and they made 3-400,” England paceman Stuart Broad said on Friday.

“So there’s a lot of hope in the change room that we can certainly save this Test match, if not put ourselves in a position.”

Broad couldn’t quite get the words ‘to win’ out.

For good reason.

Based on the past 120 years, a draw is all his team can achieve in this contest.

With the exception of a timeless Test at the SCG in 1894, no side has ever posted such a high first-innings total then lost the game.

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