Ashes in a nutshell: England fightback headed off by Travis

Ollie Robinson takes two wickets in two balls, no-ball denies Ben Stokes as technology fails but Australia stay in control after brutal Travis Head hundred; this is day two from The Gabba in a nutshell

Last Updated: 09/12/21 10:14am

Ollie Robinson took two wickets in two balls for England before Travis Head’s brilliant hundred

Ollie Robinson takes two wickets in two balls, no-ball denies Ben Stokes as technology fails but Australia stay in control after brutal Travis Head hundred. This is day two from The Gabba in a nutshell…


Travis Head hit the third fastest century in Ashes history as Australia built a commanding first-innings lead over England on day two of the first Test in Brisbane, writes Sam Drury.

The left-hander came in in the midst of an England fightback that saw the tourists take four quick wickets either side of tea which reduced the hosts to 195-5, and counter-attacked brilliantly to bring up his third Test ton from 85 balls and reaffirm his side’s position of strength.

David Warner (94) had earlier fallen just short of a hundred after a second-wicket stand of 156 with Marnus Labuschagne (74) having made the most of some good fortune that saw him bowled off a no-ball by Ben Stokes on 17 and dropped in the slips on 48 off Ollie Robinson (3-48).

Head brought up his hundred from 85 balls at The Gabba

Australia closed on 343-7, a lead of 196, with Head 122no from 95 balls, while England’s gloom was added to with Stokes and Robinson appearing to sustain knocks, and the latter unable to take the second new ball.

Talking point

With Australia closing in on a 200-run lead, some might question the make-up of the England attack and the decision to leave out both James Anderson and Stuart Broad. However, while the manner in which the home side were able to get after Jack Leach was a concern, the England seamers bowled well – at least for two-and-a-half sessions – and, on a number of occasions, what they lacked was luck more than anything else.

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England Elite Pace Bowling Coach Jon Lewis defends the team’s bowling selection for the first Ashes Test as Australia dominated day two

England Elite Pace Bowling Coach Jon Lewis defends the team’s bowling selection for the first Ashes Test as Australia dominated day two

Now, a bowler overstepping the popping crease – as Stokes did when he bowled Warner – is nothing to do with luck. Where Stokes was unfortunate, though, is that the technology that allows the third umpire to check for a no-ball after every delivery has not been working at The Gabba and the front foot is only being checked after wickets.

As a result, the England all-rounder was unaware he had overstepped with each of his first three deliveries so the opportunity to make an adjustment was not afforded to him and potentially cost him a wicket – as he castled Warner with his fourth ball of the Test – and Australia a number of runs.

The ICC has confirmed that the no-ball technology will be back for the second Test with the old protocols being used for the remainder of the match in Brisbane.

Ben Stokes bowled David Warner for 17 but was called for a no-ball

Perhaps the question is, if the host broadcaster was able to prove Stokes had bowled 14 no-balls in his first five overs and the third umpire was able to check the images when a wicket fell, what was the technical failing that meant officials were unable to do so for other deliveries?

Moment of the day

That Stokes non-dismissal of Warner, England dismissing Steve Smith for fewer than 12,738 or Ollie Robinson knocking over Cameron Green for his second wicket in two balls might have stood a chance were it not for the brilliance of Travis Head.

Head smashed the third fastest century in Ashes history

Just as England thought they were back in contention, the left-hander completely took the game away from them with a fabulous knock that included 12 fours and a pair of sixes.

He needed a bit of good fortune early on but once he got going, there was no stopping him and he emphatically justified his selection over Usman Khawaja at No 5 with the fastest Ashes ton since Adam Gilchrist’s 57-ball effort at Perth in the 2006/07 series.

The hundred came up in style with a crisp drive through mid-on for four and the celebration showed just how much a maiden Ashes ton meant to him. At 112no at stumps, he will have the chance to add a few more on day three.

What they said

Australia opener David Warner, speaking to Fox Sports: “England were relentless, holding their length, but what an entertaining innings from Head there! It was great to watch and we all have smiles on our faces. It was a tight battle between Head and Khawaja for that spot. That was the Travis Head we know. He wasn’t going to fiddle around. He was fluent in his areas and played his strokes. It was extraordinary.”

England seamer Ollie Robinson, speaking to BT Sport: “Tough conditions for us, but the boys toiled hard. A few missed opportunities early on but on another day, we could’ve had three or four [wickets] early.

“I felt like I was consistent and had a lot of play and misses, so on another day we could’ve had more wickets. I sort of felt like I was going to get him [Warner] out every over, to be honest. He left well in periods but I felt like he played at a lot of balls he could’ve left. Hopefully throughout the series I can get his number a bit earlier.”

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Sir Alastair Cook, speaking to BT Sport: “I feel for England today. I know I will be slightly biased but the top three seamers went at less than three runs an over and challenged the Australia batsmen. But when you lose one of your main bowlers in Stokes and then Australia attack Leach, it was hard for England.

“No matter what fitness you do, you cannot replicate miles in your legs. And you saw that on a hot day, England didn’t have miles in their legs. England caused the top order issues. Going forward they can take confidence from that – they know where to bowl and will hope luck can change and they get their rewards.”

Tweets of the day

An #Ashes hundred at the Gabba and what it means ?

Take a bow, @travishead34 ?#WTC23 | #AUSvENG

— ICC (@ICC)

December 9, 2021

Outstanding knock from Travis Head, butchering the England attack in the final session of the day. He attacked 40% of the deliveries bowled to him – the last time an Aussie attacked more in an #Ashes ton was Warner in 2013. Before that, Gilchrist at Perth. Superb from Head.

— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst)

December 9, 2021

— Pat Cummins (@patcummins30)

December 9, 2021

When the bowling coach does the press conference on day 2 of an Ashes series you know it’s not going well

— Nick Hoult (@NHoultCricket)

December 9, 2021

Just dropped (no pun intended) in Oz. #ashes

— Isabelle Westbury (@izzywestbury)

December 9, 2021

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