Fiery Mark Wood and Stuart Broad give England flying start to must-win Test

Fiery Mark Wood and Stuart Broad give England flying start to must-win Test

Mark Wood lit up Headingley with a burst of breakneck speed and Stuart Broad grabbed two crucial wickets as England began their must-win third Ashes Test in rousing style.

Four days on from Jonny Bairstow’s controversial stumping at Lord’s, which led to a four-day row about the spirit of cricket, England did their talking on the field.

Ben Stokes, whose side are 2-0 down with three to play, made a bold decision to send the tourists in to bat and was rewarded with some crucial breakthroughs as Australia reached 91 for four at lunch.

Broad topped and tailed the morning session, nicking off his old foe David Warner for the 16th time in Test cricket and pouncing just before lunch to see off the prolific Steve Smith for 22.

But it was the returning Wood who really whipped the capacity crowd up. He bowled wall-to-wall rockets, never dipping below 90mph and hitting a fiery ceiling at 96.5mph.

There was just one scoring shot off his first four overs, which went down as the second fastest spell in England since ball-tracking data began in 17 years ago, and he capped it off by scattering Usman Khawaja’s stumps for 13.

Mark Wood
Mark Wood was soon causing problems on his return to the England line-up (Danny Lawson/PA)

Chris Woakes, returning to the Test arena after 18 months, also chipped in with the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne for 21.

For Bairstow, the man at the centre of this week’s controversy, it was a disappointing morning. He put down a tough chance off Smith on four, but then shelled Travis Head on nine as Wood’s pace continued to break the game open. The umpire signalled a bye for the resulting single, but England would surely have gone to DRS and dismissed the dangerous Head, who will resume after lunch on 10.

Given the level of antagonism that met Australia’s actions at Lord’s on Sunday, it was no surprise to hear the capacity crowd welcome the opening pair with a chorus of boos – the loudest emanating from the reliably noisy Western Terrace.

England v Australia – LV= Insurance Ashes Series 2023 – Third Test – Day One – Headingley
David Warner (pictured) fell to Stuart Broad once again (Mike Egerton/PA)

Warner made a good start to shutting down the jeers, driving Broad’s first ball down the ground for four, but the left-hander was back in the pavilion before the over was complete. Flashing outside off stump he threaded a catch to Zak Crawley, who made no mistake at second slip to bring the fans to their feet.

The intensity stepped up several notches when Wood made his belated introduction to the series, having been held back until now due to concerns over his match fitness.

He put the batters on instant alert with his fiery speeds, changing the whole feeling around the ground. He sent down three consecutive maidens before finally conceding a run off his 23rd ball. But his prize was just around the corner, with a fast, full and swinging delivery pounding into Khawaja’s middle and leg stumps.

Bairstow could not hang on to a tough inside edge off Smith, playing his 100th Test, but Woakes kept the momentum going when he angled one in at Labuschagne’s off stump and took a thick outside edge that carried to Joe Root.

Wood returned for a second blast and should have had Head immediately, only for Bairstow to spill a catch down the leg side.

However, Broad relieved England’s frustrations just before lunch, nipping one in and finding Smith’s inside edge, giving Bairstow a chance to hold on and putting England in control.