Stuart Broad fired up to take 5-101 on day two in Sydney to claim his second five wicket haul in Australia.
And with it, helped prove the point that he should have played a far greater role in this Ashes series, having missed out in Brisbane and Melbourne.
They call players like Broad ‘champions’ in these parts for their skill, their success and their longevity, and if anyone thinks that this champ is done, think again.
Broad’s personal moments of magic that included dismissing the Aussie captain Pat Cummins with a snorter of a ball, were precious relief on another brute of a day for the team in this series as the home side racked up 416-8 declared, before England closed out the day 13-0.
There was another dropped catch that proved to be hugely costly and Ben Stokes left the field clutching his side before returning, but unable to bowl.
And if the 35-year-old Broad was the most threatening of England’s bowlers on yet another day in the dirt, it was another 35-year-old, Usman Khawaja, replacing the covid positive Travis Head, who stole the show for Australia on his beloved SCG turf.
Khawaja now plies his trade for Queensland but he came through the ranks at New South Wales and the Sydney faithful certainly appreciated his efforts in reaching a ninth Test ton – and his second in the Ashes.
With his wife and baby daughter watching on Khawaja brought the crowd to their feet with a clip through mid-wicket just before tea followed by a celebration in the style of LeBron James the basketball superstar.
Khawaja loves his Americana, sporting a Fresh Prince of Bel Air hoodie when the teams travelled from Melbourne last week, but his heart is true blue Aussie and he continued to grind down the poms to finish with 137 when he played on to Broad.
Of course Khawaja should have gone well before that when Jack Leach found his edge on just 28, but the ball flicked Jos Buttler’s glove and thigh before bouncing out of Joe Root’s hands at slip.
Those sorts of chances are never easy to take, but they rarely seem to stick with this England team and poor old Leach would have had every right to tear his hair out, if only he could.
Khawaja and Steve Smith moved the scoreboard on slowly but steadily as Stokes began to try out a bouncer barrage on them. He hit a shoulder and a glove, but the only real damage was to himself when he walked gingerly off the field clutching his side. It really wasn’t worth it.
At 209-3 at lunch things looked very bleak indeed, but the second new ball breathed new life into England’s bowlers and Broad ran with it.
First Smith fiddled at one that nipped away to edge behind for 67, before Cameron Green prodded forward with hard hands to edge to Zak Crawley at third slip.
When Alex Carey’s attempt at a slog sweep off Root could only land in the hands of Jonny Bairstow running back at mid-on, England were in with a shout of wrapping things up without too much further damage.
But then again the only thing they’ve wrapped up in this series has been their wickets as presents.
Cummins hung around to add 46 with Khawaja before Mitchell Starc put on 67 for the eighth wicket with him, two partnerships that broke even further and already broken England.
By the time Khawaja was out he had already scored more runs in this series than every England batsman bar Root and Dawid Malan.
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