5 Ashes talking points as Bairstow leads England fightback with defiant century

Jonny Bairstow scored England 's first Ashes century on day three of the fourth Test in Sydney, leading an important fightback after his side slipped to 36-4 before lunch.

After rain delayed the start of play by more than two hours, England's openers got off to a typically poor start.

Having given Zak Crawley a life on day two after Mitchell Starc overstepped, Haseeb Hameed was dropped by Alex Carey in just the third over on day three.

It did not cost much though, with Starc bowling Hameed through the gate for six just two overs later.

Crawley also fell cheaply, getting bowled by MCG hero Scott Boland for 18, having been hit in the box and on the gloves by Starc.

Boland then picked up the key wicket of Root in his fourth over, getting the England captain caught at slip for a seven-ball duck.

Dawid Malan became the final wicket to fall before lunch, getting caught at leg slip off Green for three as England collapsed to 36-4 in the first session.

After the break, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow fought valiantly, with Stokes struggling with a side injury he picked up while bowling.

The pair put on a 128-run partnership, with Stokes making 66 and Bairstow contributing 103 not out.

Stokes eventually fell LBW to Nathan Lyon, but Bairstow powered on to make a hundred after taking a nasty blow on the thumb.

Jos Buttler's struggles in the series continued as he fell tamely for a duck, prodding Pat Cummins to short extra cover.

Together, Bairstow and Mark Wood put on 72 runs to ensure England avoided the follow-on, with Wood smashing three sixes on his way to 39.

Bairstow then brought up his seventh Test ton with a four off Cummins in the final over of the day to leave England 258-7 and trailing Australia by 158 runs at the close.

Here are five talking points from the day's play.

Jane McGrath Day

Day three of the Sydney Test is now known as Jane McGrath Day, with the SCG turning pink to raise money for the McGrath Foundation.

The charity was set up by former Australia bowler Glenn McGrath in memory of his late wife, Jane, who tragically died from breast cancer in 2008.

McGrath, who was unable to attend the Test this year after contracting Covid, said: "The past two years have been full of uncertainty for us all, but there’s no doubt that for people living with breast cancer things continue to be even more challenging.

"What we can do is unite in pink. We’ve always said pink is more than a colour. To us, pink is an attitude.

"It’s a show of support for people with breast cancer, not only at the SCG, but right around Australia and beyond."

Hameed's Ashes over?

Hameed's dismissal was an ugly one and marked his fifth consecutive single figure innings in the series.

After a pair of promising starts in the first Test in Brisbane which earned praise from former Australia opener Matthew Hayden, Hameed has managed to score just 19 runs in his last five innings.

The 24-year-old is currently averaging 10.14 in the series, with David Warner's horror showing in the 2019 the only time an opener has averaged less in the Ashes.

Should Hameed fail again, he may well find himself dropped for the final Test in Hobart, handing Rory Burns a recall.

Speaking on BBC Test Match Special, former England bowler Jonathan Agnew said: "It is not a good shot.

"Hameed has missed a full, straight ball. He has played around it. It is a folorn figure ripping off his gloves."

Speaking on commentary for Fox Cricket, former England captain Michael Vaughan said: "He’s just too loose. The ball comes back through the gate and those hands are just going towards the ball.

"We keep highlighting his technique, that he throws his hands towards the ball and just look at the gap. You could drive a bus through there!"

Boland's dream start continues

Picking up 6-7 on debut as Australia retained the Ashes in Melbourne was the stuff of dreams for Boland and he continued his remarkable start to Test cricket in Sydney.

In the first session of the day, Boland bowled four overs and picked up 2-0, bowling Crawley and getting Root caught for a duck.

Those wickets left him with eight dismissals in his last eight overs in Test cricket and an outstanding average of just 6.11.

As England fought back in the second session, Boland ended with figures of 2-25 from 12 overs after an injury scare limited how much he could bowl.

Stokes battles despite injury

Despite picking up a side injury on day two that left him unable to bowl for the rest of Australia's innings, Stokes battled to 66 in clear discomfort.

It was his highest score of the series so far and was not without moments of drama, with Stokes somehow not getting bowled on 16.

A delivery from Cameron Green hit his off-stump, but failed to dislodge the bails.

Umpire Paul Reiffel bizarrely gave Stokes out LBW anyway, prompting the all-rounder to burst out laughing after he reviewed the decision and was given not out.

Stokes has struggled with the bat this series, but he was able to take advantage of that slice of luck to counter-attack his way to 66.

Alongside Bairstow, the pair made 128 runs and pushed England up to 164 before Stokes fell to Lyon.

Bairstow scores England's first ton

The 32-year-old showed signs of promise in his latest recall to the side in Melbourne, making 35 in the first innings, and he followed that up with a magnificent century in Sydney.

Bairstow's partnership with Stokes helped England fightback after their top order collapsed and he counter-attacked his way to 103 not out to drag his side back into the game.

He took a nasty blow on the thumb from Cummins and, after Stokes and Buttler fell, he looked to tee off.

Bairstow's hundred was his first in Test cricket since November 2018, when he made 110 against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

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