‘I’m no cheat’: Root defends dubious catch
AUSTRALIA has escaped with a thrilling draw at the end of a manic rain-filled five days at Lord's in which history was created and a new fast bowling sensation was unleashed on world cricket.
The final day drama included a repeat of sorts of the World Cup final at the same venue - in that Ben Stokes batted brilliantly (scoring a century) and Jofra Archer bowled superbly (taking 3-32 to give the hosts hope).
Australia unearthed a star of their own, with Marnus Labuschagne stepping in to fill the Steve Smith-sized hole in the middle order with a half-century before Travis Head (42 not out) and Pat Cummins stonewalled the final overs in fading light to ensure Australia took a 1-0 lead to Headingley.
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ROOT'S CONTROVERSIAL CATCH
England captain Joe Root has hit back at anyone questioning his integrity after taking a controversial catch which threatened to mar an unforgettable final day at Lord's.
Root dived forward at midwicket to take the catch which dismissed Marnus Labuschange for 57 as he led his team's fight towards the ultimate conclusion of a draw.
Labuschagne looked unhappy with the decision, which was only reached after TV umpire Joel Wilson, who had a record number of decisions overturned at Edgbaston, couldn't find conclusive evidence to overturn the "soft" decision of out from on-field umpire Aleem Dar.
Root exchanged words with Labuschagne after the dismissal was confirmed but said he simply told the Australian that he had caught it.
"You can feel your fingers underneath the ball. You look at slo-mos and they always look worse than they are," Root said.
"As a fielder you know if your fingers are under the ball, I clearly felt that was the case. I'm an honest guy, I am not going to try and cheat the game regardless of the situation.
"It is quite disappointing when it's slowed down and people start to question your integrity. We play the game in a certain way, and that's the right way."
Paine said he could only make a decision on the replays he saw and his own experiences in the field.
"I know what it is like when you are in Joe's position being a wicketkeeper or a fielder. You dive forward, you feel the ball hit your hands and you catch it," he said
"He thought he caught it, you can make your own opinions from what you saw on the TV, I am not going to comment on it. It is what it is and we can't control it. It's happened."
HISTORY CREATED AS CONCUSSION SUB USED
The day started firstly with rain, but then with the news that Steve Smith wouldn't be fit to take his place with the Australian team due to a delayed concussion.
It was a huge blow for Australia, but allowed the ICC's recently introduced concussion substitution rule to be enforced - with the tourists bringing in Labuschagne as his like-for-like replacement.
Smith then said he remained optimistic of taking his place in the Australian team at Leeds… as long as he gets the all clear from the medical team.
AUSSIES STILL CAN'T REVIEW…
After play on Saturday Australian coach Justin Langer asked his team to improve their poor use of the DRS.
They didn't - twice burning reviews frivolously in an attempt to get Ben Stokes, firstly chasing a review which confirmed Aleem Dar's suspicion there'd been a large inside edge and secondly with an lbw attempt off Lyon which was missing leg.
On both occasions they seemed a touch desperate, and they left Australia without any reviews with still five wickets to chase.
Making matters worse, there was another blooper as they missed a further chance against Stokes off Lyon which would have hit the top of leg stump and been overturned. Plenty to work on, there.
BRILLIANT STOKES LOVES LORD'S
It was like the World Cup final all over again.
Ben Stokes spearheaded England's second innings with a blazing century - including lifting the tempo in a major way after passing 50.
He cut loose to hit consecutive sixes off Nathan Lyon as England brought up their 200 and then motored towards a seventh Test century before Joe Root declared with Stokes unbeaten on 115.
Stokes is a bona fide x-factor in a series that could hang on the batting or bowling of one player. And he can do both.
WARNER'S HISTORIC LOW
When David Warner was sent packing for 5, making it four consecutive scores under 10 to start the series for the Australian enforcer at the top of the order.
That's a first for Warner, who has never copped four consecutive single figure scores in the same series.
The one time previously he had four in a row it was spread over two separate series.
He's only the second Australian opener to have such a barren run in an Ashes series in England. In 1997 Mark Taylor followed a century at Birmingham with scores of 1, 2, 1 and 0.
ARCHER ROUGHS UP AUSTRALIA
Jofra Archer is certified scary quick - and has the most fearsome bouncer in cricket.
A day after roughing up Steve Smith with a hostile spell, Archer set his sights on Marnus Labuschagne - and knocked Smith's concussion replacement off his feet after just two deliveries.
Labuschagne was whacked on the grille with the second delivery he faced by a stunning Archer short ball.
DRS' 'TOTAL EMBARRASSMENT'
The Decision Review System was put in place to remove human error and avoid the howler decisions - but what about when there's a computer malfunction?
That happened when Nathan Lyon appealed for - and then reviewed - a Ben Stokes LBW that was turned down by umpire Aleem Dar, only for Hawk-Eye to go to pieces.
"Stand by Aleem, there's a little problem with the system," offered third umpire Joel Wilson as the ball-tracking technology disappeared on the big screen.
It provided further ammunition for those who aren't fans of the technology.
"Another total embarrassment with DRS technology glitch," said former Victorian wicketkeeper Darren Berry.
LABUSCHAGNE'S PERFECT LEEDS AUDITION
Marnus Labuschagne was brought in as Steve Smith's like-for-like concussion replacement - and didn't disappoint at all.
After being felled by a bouncer on his second delivery, Labuschagne channelled Smith with a superb half-century which halted England's charge late on day four.
In doing so he cemented himself as Smith's replacement should the former skipper remain sidelined with concussion… but also puts his name in the frame in a full-strength side.
It took a miracle to get him out for 59, with a sweep shot ricocheting off the short leg and bouncing up to a diving Joe Root at midwicket for that contentious catch.
NOTHING CONTROVERSIAL ABOUT THIS CATCH
If Joe Root's was controversial, Joe Denly's was just special.
Tim Paine fell into the trap England had set him on the leg side as Jofra Archer dropped it short and the keeper went on the pull.
He couldn't clear Denly at square leg, and the under-fire batsman leapt high to his left, hanging in the air for an eternity before reeling the ball in with a magnificent one-handed grab with his left hand.
It will be hard to top for catch of the series.
England had a lead of 250 at the end of the over in which Stokes reached his century, and a declaration then would've left them with 49 overs at Australia.
But rather than declare, Joe Root gave Stokes another to rub salt into Australian wounds - and he took 16 runs off Peter Siddle's 15th over to demolish his figures.
LYON IS THE SIX KING
Stokes' bullish uppercuts of Lyon into the stands extended the Australian's unwanted record of having the most sixes hit against him in Test cricket.
Lyon now has 213 hit against him - while no other batsman has been hit for 200, according to the BBC's stats king Andrew Samson.