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BUMBLE AT THE TEST: England captain Ben Stokes could become an off-spinner and polite and passive Aussies are nothing like the snarling stars of yesteryear

England now have a golden chance to level the Ashes after a fine day of batting on the third day at the Oval on Saturday.

Zak Crawley – just as he did in the first Test – smacked the first ball for four to signify the hosts’ attacking intent and piled on 389 runs for nine wickets, leaving James Anderson and Stuart Broad unbeaten at the close with England 377 ahead.

Legendary bowler Broad later announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in a shock decision revealed exclusively to Mail Sport. 

It was another dramatic day of thrills and spills in south London, with plenty of talking points. 

And below, Mail Sport columnist David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd gives us his unique insight from the fifth and final Test. 

It was another dramatic day of cricket as England ended on 389-9 at the Oval on Saturday

Stuart Broad revealed he is retiring from all forms of cricket in a shock announcement on Saturday - and below, Mail Sport's David Lloyd gives us his unique insight from the third day Stuart Broad revealed he is retiring from all forms of cricket in a shock announcement on Saturday - and below, Mail Sport's David Lloyd gives us his unique insight from the third day

Stuart Broad revealed he is retiring from all forms of cricket in a shock announcement on Saturday – and below, Mail Sport’s David Lloyd gives us his unique insight from the third day

 

India watch out! 

I reported for duty early at the Oval on Saturday to see Ben Stokes in the nets with coach Jeetan Patel practising off-spin. 

I reckon there’s every chance he could convert from seam to spin as he gets older, just as the likes of Eddie Hemmings, Ashley Giles and Mike Watkinson did. He looks the part. I reckon this is a bit of forward planning from Ben. Watch out India!

 

Looking back to 1984 

Watching Stokes got me thinking about another great all-rounder in Ian Botham turning to spin in a Test. He took two wickets against Sri Lanka in 1984 at Lord’s. It’s marvellous to watch the footage now. 

The ground was a third full at most and the commentary from Richie Benaud, Tom Graveney and Jim Laker was so under-stated. Look it up!

I reckon England captain Ben Stokes is practising his off-spin and will try it out against India I reckon England captain Ben Stokes is practising his off-spin and will try it out against India

I reckon England captain Ben Stokes is practising his off-spin and will try it out against India

 

Friday night lights 

Friday night started full of promise. I was heading to one of my favourite London haunts Soho – or ‘The Ho’ as I call it. I was looking forward to going into the French House and moving on from there. 

But I got my sensible head on and decided against it. Went back to my room and was in bed by 7.30pm. Twelve hours’ sleep later I felt rotten….

 

Free lunch and tea for me… 

Had a call from the great man Geoffrey Boycott. He wanted to know whether I’d be heading to Scarborough next week for the 50-over Roses clash. Of course I will! 

Particularly now Geoffrey has invited me into the hospitality tent where he was quick to point out that lunch and tea were free. Bit different from my £16.50 gin and tonic in Kensington…

 

Grim down south 

I have to say I’ll be glad to get back up north. It’s a death trap, is London. You take your life in your hands walking on the pavement. Not only are there bikes coming at you from every direction but there’s now these scooters that move like the clappers. 

You’re better off walking in the middle of the road! And what a battle to get on the tube. Some bloke pushed me out of the way to try to pay with his phone. It didn’t work so I pushed him back….

Geoffrey Boycott (above) has invited me into the hospitality tent for the 50-over Roses clash Geoffrey Boycott (above) has invited me into the hospitality tent for the 50-over Roses clash

Geoffrey Boycott (above) has invited me into the hospitality tent for the 50-over Roses clash

 

Proof in the pudding for Aussies 

What an exhilarating morning session for England, racking up 130 in stark contrast to Australia’s careful approach on day two. England are carrying on in their merry way and Zak Crawley is the leading run-scorer in the series. 

They stuck with him when almost everyone was saying he should be dropped and he’s rewarded them with some magnificent stroke-play. 

I can’t help thinking the Aussies have been far too cautious. But the proof is in the pudding – they’re still 2-1 up.

 

I’ve lost my hat – reward offered… 

I’m in crisis. I feel bereft. I’ve lost my hat and it’s my best one, too. It was custom made for me by Lisa of Taylor Red and I wore it to the Oval but now can’t find it anywhere. I’ve not been anywhere other than the Media Centre but it’s disappeared. 

It’s an all in one felt hat with speckles and it’s got my initials inside it. Proper posh. If anyone finds it please return it to me and I’ll give you a reward of one of them England bucket hats…

 

Ben can play at three 

Did we get a glimpse of the future when Ben Stokes came in at three? England have backed Ollie Pope in that problem position but he got injured and then Moeen Ali put his hand up to bat there and he got injured too. 

If Ben can’t get that knee fixed and doesn’t do much bowling in future I reckon three is where he’ll end up. He’s more than technically equipped to bat in the top order and have a massive influence on the game….

  Seeing the Aussies, led by Pat Cummins, act nicey-nicey is weird - they're better with a snarl Seeing the Aussies, led by Pat Cummins, act nicey-nicey is weird - they're better with a snarl

Seeing the Aussies, led by Pat Cummins, act nicey-nicey is weird – they’re better with a snarl

Batters not waiting for umpires any more! 

I’ve noticed a small break in the traditions of the game. The umpires would always come out first ahead of play or after any interval at any level of cricket followed by the captain at the head of the fielding team and then, after a suitable pause, the batters. 

But now you often see the batters striding out after the umpires. They’re not prepared to wait!

 

Nicey-nicey Australians – how bizarre 

When Ben Stokes and Joe Root were together in the afternoon session it was all very nicey-nicey from Australia. It is so unlike them. 

In the past whenever you had an Australian team on the ropes the likes of Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting would come back at you with a snarl. This team looks so passive and polite….

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