Australia outlasted another epic solo assault by England captain Ben Stokes to win the second Ashes test by 43 runs with a session to spare on a salty last day on July 2.
Stokes seemed to be pulling a stunning victory out of impending defeat for England with an astonishing 155 that echoed another unforgettable century in a thrilling fourth-innings chase to win the Ashes test at Headingley in 2019.
Again, he turned hope into expectation for a sold-out crowd and helped to reduce a never-reached 371 target at Lord’s to 70.
Then he was gone, top-edging a short ball from Josh Hazlewood behind to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. A febrile Lord’s sunk into silence until the crowd rose to send Stokes off to a sustained standing ovation.
He was the seventh man out, and the tail wagged for another hour. England was all out for 327 and congratulated Australia on the pavilion steps after the victors were booed off the field.
Australia leads the series 2-0 and the holder can clinch a first Ashes series win in England since 2001 at Headingley in the third test starting on Thursday.
England’s chances of retaking the urn were bleak. Only one team has ever come back from 2-0 down in the Ashes, and it had Don Bradman, in 1937.
The match wasn’t as epic as last week’s opening test at Edgbaston, which was a thriller for all five days, but the last day at Lord’s will live long in Ashes infamy as Stokes embellished his legend and the Australians were booed mercilessly and accused in crowd chants of cheating.
The Marylebone Cricket Club even apologized to the visitors for some of their members handling and verbally abusing the Australians in the sacred Long Room at lunch.
A chase that was moving at a serene pace erupted when Jonny Bairstow got himself stumped half an hour before lunch.
Bairstow ducked a bouncer from Cameron Green and he neither checked the fate of the ball nor stood his ground. Instead, he left his crease to talk with Stokes and wicketkeeper Alex Carey simply underarmed the ball into his stumps and the Australians celebrated. Bairstow was confused and the umpires asked for a ruling from the third umpire, who didn’t hesitate to say he was stumped for 10 at 193-6. England’s tail was exposed, still needing 178 more runs.
Despite Bairstow’s brain fade, Stokes expressed his anger to the on-field umpires, and large parts of Lord’s blamed the Australians in chants. One was, “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, cheat, cheat, cheat.” As prim and proper Lord’s turned into the Colosseum, Stokes, the last recognized batter, switched into beast mode.