Welcome to coverage of day four of the first Test from the Gabba. Those straws we were clutching at before a ball had been bowled on day three. or ‘crumbs of comfort’ as they were euphemistically and optimistically described, actually turned out to exist. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves after England’s excellent third-wicket, unbroken partnership of 159, they are still 58 behind and this author has seen many a seeming comeback be blown away the following morning.
But they are in a far better position than we could have hoped for when run ragged in the field on the evening of day two and after being given the runaround in the first 70 minutes on Friday morning. They are in the contest and have built a rare platform to allow Nos 5, 6 and 7, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler to do the jobs to which their talents are best suited: turning the screw.
First England have to prolong this partnership as long as possible, try to make some hay in the final 10 over with a soft ball and survive the first 15 overs with the new ball with as few casualties as possible. If they can continue to make Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon look costly and, in the possible absence of Josh Hazlewood, force Pat Cummins to flog himself into the ground, whatever the outcome of this game it could have positive consequences down the line.
For some of you, with a day off ahead, it might be the first time you have joined us on this long day’s journey into night. If you are in the UK, may I recommend, if you can, syncing your TV to TMS. Even BT Sport’s in-house panel have had enough of the Fox Sports commentators their bosses have saddled us with. You can take respite from the endless Aussie boosterism of ‘Warnie’, ‘Howie’, ‘AB’, ‘Gil’, ‘Junior’, ‘Binger’ and ‘Skull’ with the wonderful Steve Finn on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. He’s on a par with Messrs Atherton and Hussain as an analyst and offers more insight in five minutes than you’ll get on the telly in five days.
Play again starts half an hour early at 11.30pm GMT.