Written by By Cnn cricket correspondent Jonah Fisher.
All-rounder Ben Stokes stepped up to the mark on day three of the first Test against Australia at the Paddington Oval in Brisbane, pulling a brutal straight six off Nathan Lyon to bring up the 100 and bring up England’s first-innings total of 438.
I had hoped to build a page around the side’s remarkable efforts at the Gabba, combining with redoubtable captain Joe Root and four of the tour’s top five batsmen to tell the story of England’s effort to post a strong, settled total on day three, a devastating knock from that wicketkeeper Jos Buttler added all the way.
It was a fabulous contest between a team full of passion and energy and a combative, all-conquering Australian side, and was overshadowed by a horrible incident in the morning on the third morning. Root was hit in the face and ear by a punch from an Australian fan, bouncing back to receive treatment as his teammates gathered around him.
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England made an audacious change to their fielding, bringing in Stokes, who was starting his first Test match, at the expense of Ben Foakes, who had so impressed in the absence of injured wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. They must have anticipated Australia battering their line, but the whole part of their bowling was greeted with less-than-polite applause by one spectator, who struck Root in the face and continued to yell his message from above.
Root stood his ground, and was given on-field treatment on the field. According to multiple reports and social media posts, he was taken to hospital to have some dental work done, but didn’t miss a match ball. Root returned to the field after lunch, was bowled soon after, and was carried off on a stretcher, of course, but by then England were 6 for 270 and heading for a first Test win here for 28 years. The former Captain was replaced by Foakes.
It’s a shame there wasn’t time to post a feature explaining how to maintain your sense of equilibrium when you lose your glasses, or some other explanation on how to snap your fingers to quicken the recovery process when your fingers are fractured. What could we have done?