Rory Burns says England’s first task is to get past the follow-on target and then put some pressure on Australia, who are in a good position to force an Ashes-retaining victory on the back of Josh Hazlewood’s 4/48.
Burns made a fine 81 – most of them in a 141-run stand with Joe Root (71) for the third wicket before being one of three late victims for Hazlewood that got Australia back on the front foot before bad light forced an early close with England 200/5 and still needing 98 more to avoid the follow-on.
But the Surrey opener, who today became only the third man in the series to reach 300 runs, insists England remain very much in the game and will draw on the spirit of Headingley over the next two days – despite the Betway88 cricket betting markets suggesting it is already game over for England.
“The way that game went, I think anything is possible,” Burns said.
“We are not that far behind in this fixture. We are a couple of partnerships away from making them make a play again. It is about putting pressure back on them and playing well tomorrow.
“We have obviously got some work to do, but it is pretty clear what we need to do. We have got some batters left in the hutch and we are 100 runs behind it (the follow on). That is a couple of good partnerships and then we are up close to them, and we’re asking them to make a play.
“We have got to look at it from a positive aspect and see where we can get to.”
Burns and Root both fell during Hazlewood’s excellent final spell of the day, as did Jason Roy for 22.
“Obviously as a team we probably wouldn’t have liked to lose a couple of wickets at the end,” Burns conceded, “but I think it has set it out pretty clear for us, in terms that there is a follow on to get past, there is a score to get as close as we can to. I think we are only a couple of partnerships away from that.
“From a personal point of view I would have liked to have been sitting here with three figures, but I thought how I played I was pretty happy with it.”
Hazlewood is confident Australia can strengthen the control he did so much to secure when play resumes tomorrow.
He said: “Obviously we’re pretty happy with where we’re at. I think the weather is pretty good for the next two days – two long days of cricket, 98 overs both days.
“There’s plenty of cricket left, so we’ll concentrate on this first innings and get the next five wickets first.
“There’s a new ball around the corner, so that’s in our favour so hopefully we can use it well. We’ve got an important session coming up.”
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