By India Today Sports Desk: In a stunning display of skill and aggression, England’s Zak Crawley left Australia stunned during the second day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford. His remarkable innings of 189 runs not only set a record as the highest score by an English batter in a home Ashes Test in over 25 years but also put England in a promising position to stage an Ashes comeback.
Facing 182 balls, Crawley unleashed 21 fours and three sixes, propelling England to a commanding 384-4, giving them a lead of 67 runs over Australia. His batting masterclass showcased his determination and talent, providing England with a strong chance to level the series at 2-2.
Australia assistant coach Daniel Vettori heaped praise on hosts England for their aggressive approach as they attempt to keep the series alive and force a decider. “How good they (England) have been particularly (on Day 2). They have been so aggressive and they take the game on, so it is a constant factor trying to marry up your own bowing versus the plans. But I though the whole series I think Pat (Cummins) has been exceptional,” Vettori said.
Crawley’s partnership with Moeen Ali, who scored an impressive 54 at number three, contributed 121 runs to England’s total. This was followed by a spectacular double-century partnership with Joe Root, who scored 84 runs, narrowly missing out on his century. Despite both Crawley and Root being dismissed by deliveries that kept low, Harry Brook and Ben Stokes held their ground with an unbroken partnership of 33 runs, setting a solid foundation for the following day.
Vettori further lauded Australia captain Pat Cummins’ leadership style, saying, “He likes advice, he likes to talk to people around the group. You see him often with Steve Smith so there’s a lot of collaboration going on. I think it was just one of those sessions where we just pushed exceptionally hard and England responded.
“And the amount of boundaries they were able to score even with the fields set the way they were, we just weren’t able to mitigate that run rate as well. I think it’s been a challenge but also a challenge that the bowlers have enjoyed because there are wicket-taking options all the way through the series.
“It feels like the bowler is in the game the whole time, and I think it’s trying to balance those two things out. They’re scoring quickly, you feel like you can take a wicket to keep going, to keep pressing. But probably today it was the first day that our press was met with them going at seven (runs) an over.”
England’s day began brilliantly with James Anderson taking Pat Cummins’ wicket with the very first ball of the morning. Chris Woakes also made his mark, achieving his maiden five-wicket haul in an Ashes Test, dismissing Australia for 317. With the series delicately balanced and unfavourable weather predicted for the weekend, England knew they needed to build a substantial lead quickly to force a result. They did so in extraordinary fashion, setting up a golden opportunity to level the series.