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In an astonishing Ashes series, this was the zaniest day yet

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23.08.2019

Is one day of standard, vanilla Test cricket, played within the bounds of normality, too much to ask? Just when this astonishing series seemed to have exhausted every narrative possibility, Friday at Headingley produced its zaniest day yet. If any date is remembered as the pivotal one that tipped the Ashes into Australian hands, it will be August 23.

To throw the mind back to a morning of champagne Yorkshire sunshine: the game was England’s on a plate. They had rumbled Australia in swinging conditions, under lights, on day one, with Jofra Archer’s impact on the series overturning Steve Smith’s. With a batting order not especially deep but indubitably long, England could look forward to a day of capitalising on their advantage, continuing the momentum shift that started when Archer felled Smith at Lord’s.

Replay

Now jump forward to Friday night. A bank holiday weekend starts with England’s cricket facing a similar outlook to, well, its banks. Its batsmen failed to muster 100 runs for the fourth time in a year.

Their 67 was their lowest Ashes score since Don Bradman’s farewell Test match 71 years ago. Archer was out of the attack with cramps and sorrows. Joe Root had broken........

© Brisbane Times