JOE ROOT and Jonny Bairstow were the top scorers as England went on another run rampage.
But fans were left feeling emotional as Stuart Broad announced his impending retirement from all forms of cricket.
Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow set England on their way to levelling the AshesCredit: Getty
Stuart Broad announced his impending retirement from cricket after Day ThreeCredit: AFP
The latest Bazball batting eruption brought 389 runs in 80 overs on day three of the Fifth Test – and now England are odds-on to square the series.
A rate of 4.86 runs-per-over across a whole day’s play would have been considered exceptional in the past, but it is standard stuff for this England side.
And they even slowed down markedly as they lost wickets in the final session.
Root was disappointed to fall nine runs short of his 31st Test century while Bairstow, stranded 99 not out in the Fourth Test, edged behind for 78.
With Zak Crawley making 73 and Ben Duckett and Ben Stokes 42 apiece, there were significant and speedy contributions all the way down England’s order.
It means that, with two days remaining, England have a lead of 377 and will fancy themselves to bowl out the Aussies.
After two even days, England stormed into control and, just as they did during their run blitz at Old Trafford, made Australia’s attack look ordinary and very tired at times.
It was another riotous day of 48 fours and three sixes.
Bad weather ruined England’s hopes at Old Trafford but, although some rain is forecast and the pitch looks to have flattened, there should surely be enough play to make the series score 2-2.
If they succeed, England will take what some people have started calling the ‘Moral Ashes’ – which is a ridiculous concept, of course, but shows how much England have dominated the series.
You can talk about the rain in Manchester robbing England of near-certain victory but the reality is that they could and should have won the First Test.
From the moment Crawley drove the first ball of the day through the covers for four, England were totally dominant.
It maybe was not quite as memorable as his boundary from the first delivery of the series at Edgbaston but it was a rasping, juicy shot all the same.
And it could hardly have made a bolder statement of intent.
With Duckett hitting a brace of boundaries, England wiped out their first innings deficit of 12 runs in the opening over. Mitchell Starc’s first two overs cost 22 runs.
Australia bowled poorly at the start – too straight to Crawley and too wide to Duckett.
Root hit a brilliant 91 runs as Bazball exploded into lifeCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun
Bairstow followed that with 78 before he was caughtCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun
The tsunami of boundaries meant Pat Cummins was forced to spread the field and England’s openers were then able to throttle back a little and work the ball, virtually risk free, for ones and twos.
Duckett was caught behind driving at Starc. The appeal was muted but Cummins decided to review and DRS detected a healthy edge.
Duckett’s first Ashes series has produced 321 runs at 35 – respectable enough – and he and Crawley, the Little ‘n’ Large of England batting, have confirmed themselves as a decent and dynamic opening pair.
When Australia went wider to Crawley shortly after lunch, he aimed a drive and edged to Steve Smith at second slip for 73.
He finishes with more impressive numbers than Duckett – his 480 runs is the most in the series and puts him well ahead of second-placed Usman Khawaja’s 424. And Crawley has scored his runs more than twice as quickly.
Moeen Ali was unable to bat at No.3 because he was off the field on Friday with a groin strain. Ben Stokes took it upon himself to fill the vacancy.
He put on 61 with Crawley and 73 with Root as England offered few opportunities for Australia to force their way back into the game.
Stokes mis-hit to mid-on for 42 and then Harry Brook, after hoisting his second ball for a huge straight six off Todd Murphy, edged behind off Josh Hazlewood.
BAZBALL MAKES IT MARK
So two wickets had fallen for nine runs in the space of nine balls.
But Root and Bairstow prevented further mishaps with a century stand for the fifth wicket.
They started quickly but then steadied and slowed.
Root played one of his reverse ramps for six off Mitchell Marsh and then an uppercut for four off Starc.
So it came as a surprise when he was bowled aiming to drive a ball that turned from Murphy when eight short of a century.
Moeen, still inconvenienced by his injury, came in at No.7 and then Bairstow, who lost some fluency towards the end of his innings, edged behind.
Chris Woakes chipped a catch to mid-off and Moeen was caught on the boundary almost behind the ‘keeper as Starc claimed his fourth wicket.
Mark Wood, who successfully reviewed an lbw verdict when he had scored four, was caught at deep mid-wicket attempting a slog-sweep.
No.11 Jimmy Anderson connected with a reverse sweep and slog-sweep for two fours in the final over and they brought the biggest cheers of the day.
Then he was given out lbw and overturned the decision on review. More cheers.