Ashes 2017-18: Joe Root falls short of three figures again as Australia snatch momentum in Sydney

Alan Tyers
Root departs after failing to get convert another Test fifty - AFP

Joe Root again failed to convert 50 into a century as he undid his good work late on day one of the final Ashes Test at the SCG.

On his return to the ground where he was dropped as a novice batsman at the end of England's 5-0 Ashes whitewash four years ago, Root (83) played admirably until he flicked a catch to square-leg in Mitchell Starc's first over with the second new ball eight minutes before stumps.

It ended a hard-working stand of 133 between the captain and Dawid Malan (55no), which was then undermined when Jonny Bairstow also fell caught-behind to Josh Hazlewood's last ball of the day in England's 233 for five after Root had chosen to bat first.

Root's trademark frailty extended his sequence of 50s without centuries to 16 out of the last 19 occasions in Tests - an aggravating statistic for one of the world's best batsmen.

Credit: AFP

England badly needed him to stay put as they seek a consolation victory to restrict the series defeat to 3-1 - having faltered to 95 for three, before Root and Malan focused their minds on a flat pitch.

After a rain-delayed start and early lunch, the extended first session was very much a mixed bag for the tourists.

Mark Stoneman and James Vince impressed briefly and then frustrated too, as they have for so much of a flawed campaign.

There was some crisp timing from the opener until he was caught-behind on the back foot off Pat Cummins.

Then Vince repeated the dose, one pull in front of square off Cummins an especially memorable shot only for another of his stylish cameos to be cut abruptly short when he went to cut the same bowler and also edged behind.

Cummins celebrates the wicket of Vince Credit: AFP

Alastair Cook was on the brink of another major milestone, five short of 12,000 career runs after counting successive back-foot fours off the previously miserly Nathan Lyon, when he fell foul of DRS precision to go lbw.

Umpire Joel Wilson did not give Cook out, on the basis the delivery from Josh Hazlewood might easily have pitched outside leg - but Steve Smith reviewed and was rewarded when technology marginally ruled the ball landed in line, rather than umpire's call.

Two wickets had fallen for seven runs, after a stand of 60, and the onus was on Root to vindicate his own decision at the toss.

He shouldered the responsibility very seriously, to the extent that he and Malan collected only eight runs in the eight overs after tea - including an off-driven four by the captain off an off-colour Starc.

Australia's review clinched Cook's wicket by the slimmest of margins Credit: BT SPORT

Malan was more circumspect still, and had two scrapes either side of 30 - first in a mix-up over a single, reprieved by faulty fielding from Mitchell Marsh at point and wicketkeeper Tim Paine, then when Smith failed to lay a hand on a half-chance low to his right at slip from an edge off Lyon.

Smith tried to play on his opposite number's likely insecurities between 50 and 100, the home attack bowling with great discipline and two men back on the hook to pace.

It very nearly paid off when Root mis-cued Cummins on 67 - but unlike in Melbourne last week, the ball landed safely between the two outfielders.

Malan had another escape too, on 39, when Cameron Bancroft's throw missed the stumps after he advanced to Lyon and hit the ball straight to short-leg.

England needed some fortune then, no doubt, but had done so much right until Root's telling late mistake and then the wicket of Bairstow. Questions will undoubtedly be asked why a night-watchman was not deployed following the England captain's dismissal with only a few minutes left of the day's play.

(Press Association report)

8:08AM

CLOSE OF PLAY - ENG 233/5 (Malan 55* Ali 0*) after 81.4 overs

What a disastrous end to the day for England. From 228/3 to 233/5 in a few balls, having dominated the final session until the arrival of the new ball.

Questions will be raised about the lack of nightwatchman as Australia take the day in dramatic fashion. Unbelievable fashion really. All the worries about Starc's fitness seems a long time ago now.

Malan still at the crease to be joined out-of-form Ali at the start of play on Friday. Tyers will steer you through that wobbly start. Cheers!

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

8:02AM

Wicket!! Bairstow 5 c Paine b Hazlewood

One over left then, another wicket would make this Australia's day. Bairstow starts well, four down to deep extra cover.

There's the nick! Slightly wide but a very nice length and Bairstow nibbles at it, Paine with the catch. Momentum has swung! FOW 233/5

7:57AM

OVER 81: ENG 229/4 (Malan 55* Bairstow 1*)

Starc's quickest spell of the day, up to 87mph. Huge shout off the last ball and Smith will review... there's a little nibble on the bat so Bairstow will survive.

Credit: BT SPORT

7:54AM

Wicket!! Root 83 c SE Marsh b Starc 

Three overs left as Australia take the new ball. First delivery immediately punched back down the ground by Root.

Next ball so close to a wicket! In-swing, inside edge by Root but he escapes. These last few balls will be fun... Root's gone! He can't believe it. Flicked straight to square leg and the England captain is walking. Bairstow coming out, no nightwatchman. FOW 228/4

7:49AM

OVER 80: ENG 220/3 (Malan 55* Root 75*)  

That's a nice pull by Malan for two. Very slow, soft outfield though, as Bancroft's knee dislodges a fair bit of turf. 

Credit: BT SPORT

7:45AM

OVER 79: ENG 218/3 (Malan 53* Root 75*)  

Root has been splendid through the covers so far. Two more in that area. Second new ball coming up by the way, doubt the Australians will dither over the decision.

7:42AM

OVER 78: ENG 218/3 (Malan 53* Root 75*)  

One run off the over for Root. Starc at the end of the previous over did not look happy at all.

7:36AM

OVER 77: ENG 215/3 (Malan 53* Root 72*)  

Fifth boundary for Malan, driven well through cover off Starc. Follows it up with two through the on side. And there's his 50, Malan's fifth in Tests.

Very patient at the start of this session before getting going, now rewarded. A rare positive in this series for England. Gets ten off the over in the end, six of those through the on side.

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

7:31AM

OVER 76: ENG 205/3 (Malan 43* Root 72*)  

Seven singles in 13 balls for England, industrious running in this session. Shadows starting to creep over the SCG field with seven overs to go.

7:27AM

OVER 75: ENG 203/3 (Malan 42* Root 71*)   

200 up now for England as Malan and Root add three singles. Cummins all too happy to fling the ball towards the stumps in frustration. Root finds a gap for another single, into the 70s.

7:24AM

OVER 74: ENG 199/3 (Malan 40* Root 69*)   

Malan moves to 40 off the last ball from Lyon, single to square. Couple straightened up in that over. Reckon this pitch will go well with the spinners later on.

7:18AM

OVER 73: ENG 198/3 (Malan 39* Root 69*)   

Up in the air by Root but safe! Was always reaching above his head to get enough bat on a bouncer which he tries to pull. Luckily it drops safe between two fielders in the deep.

7:14AM

OVER 72: ENG 196/3 (Malan 39* Root 67*)   

Cries for a catch but Root's flick comes off the leg of short leg, no chance of hauling that one in. Another single for Root.

7:10AM

OVER 71: ENG 195/3 (Malan 39* Root 66*)   

Pull shot from Root takes the partnership to 100. Fifth of the series for England. Just the one off the over.

Credit: BT SPORT

7:07AM

OVER 70: ENG 194/3 (Malan 39* Root 65*)   

Maiden for Lyon. Both batsmen looking very solid however out in the middle. Play is scheduled to last until 07:30 GMT but it could go as long as 08:00.

7:01AM

OVER 69: ENG 194/3 (Malan 39* Root 65*)   

Cummins keeping Root at bay. Very full final ball and that's drinks as Cummins gets a maiden.

Khawaja gets a warm reception after his fall Credit: GETTY IMAGES

6:58AM

OVER 68: ENG 194/3 (Malan 39* Root 65*)   

Long spell this for Lyon, his 22nd over of the Test. Single each for Malan and Root.

6:53AM

OVER 67: ENG 192/3 (Malan 38* Root 64*)   

Pulled by Malan to deep square for one. Seems like a long time ago that he could barely find a run. 

Root then cuts one to deep backward point for two, 200 in sight now for the tourists. Decent little Test so far. Two more for the skipper on the leg side.

6:49AM

OVER 66: ENG 187/3 (Malan 37* Root 60*)   

Three for Root, up to 60 now. Two coming from a punch through the covers off the last. 17 overs left in the day.

6:46AM

OVER 65: ENG 183/3 (Malan 36* Root 57*)   

England in no hurry. One more for Root, from the leg side.

6:41AM

OVER 64: ENG 182/3 (Malan 36* Root 56*)   

Three off two for Root, facing Lyon. Malan blocks out the rest. Not the swiftest of run rates but comfortable at 2.84.

6:38AM

OVER 63: ENG 179/3 (Malan 36* Root 53*)   

One from the over for Root, touch of swing. Partnership now into the 80s by the way.

6:32AM

OVER 62: ENG 178/3 (Malan 36* Root 52*)   

Dropped! Turn from Lyon, edged by Malan and through the hands of Smith at slip! Might have flicked Paine's pad on the way through, hence the hands being out of position.

Malan gets two as a result, Root adding a single.

Credit: BT SPORT

6:29AM

OVER 61: ENG 175/3 (Malan 34* Root 51*)   

Good from Marsh until the last; full and wide, slashed away by Malan for four. Root's 50 shot below.

6:25AM

OVER 60: ENG 171/3 (Malan 30* Root 51*)   

Chance of a run out after Malan's single to backward point. He stops running back for the second, that slight delay creating the confusion. Had the throw from Paine been sharper to the non-striker's end then Malan might have walked. 

Three from the over.

6:20AM

OVER 59: ENG 168/3 (Malan 28* Root 50*)   

M Marsh now getting a bowl. Couple through midwicket for Root off a straighter ball. Drives the follow-up to reach 50, boundary through the covers.

Someone has to say it: can he kick on? A 36th Test fifty for the England captain.

Credit: BT SPORT

6:16AM

OVER 58: ENG 162/3 (Malan 28* Root 44*)   

Quick over from Lyon, one run off it from Root to midwicket. Slowing down a little bit.

6:12AM

OVER 57: ENG 161/3 (Malan 28* Root 43*)   

Pull from Root cut off at square for one. He's looking sharp.

6:06AM

OVER 56: ENG 160/3 (Malan 28* Root 42*)   

Khawaja in a bit of bother chasing after a cover drive from Malan. Looks as though his knee caught in the turf as he went to ground to stop it. Drinks break while he recovers.

Credit: BT SPORT

6:01AM

OVER 55: ENG 155/3 (Malan 24* Root 41*)   

Pull from Malan and a boundary to deep square, nicely played. Gets two more off the next ball to the same area. England over the 150 mark.

5:55AM

OVER 54: ENG 149/3 (Malan 18* Root 41*)   

Lyon in to mix things up. Gets excited over one but surely too far down and outside the line. Singles apiece for the two batsmen.

5:51AM

OVER 53: ENG 147/3 (Malan 17* Root 40*)   

Fifty partnership up as Root opens his bat up and gets four again through point. Playing very well indeed these last few overs. Clips a fuller ball to the leg side for one.

5:46AM

OVER 52: ENG 142/3 (Malan 17* Root 35*)   

Runs for Malan! He gets a single, with a wry smile, with his 27th ball of the day. Root keeping the pace up, slow field stops a glancing shot off the middle of the bat going all the way to backward point, getting three instead.

5:42AM

OVER 51: ENG 138/3 (Malan 16* Root 32*)   

Root bored of hanging around. Gets two with a punch down the ground, then four off a shorter ball down to third man. Another possible four stopped at fine leg for two, giving Root eight off the over.

Malan's session so far. Patient.

Credit: BT SPORT

5:37AM

OVER 50: ENG 130/3 (Malan 16* Root 24*)   

Malan yet to score in this session. Root ticking over though, single to fine leg. 50 overs up for England.

5:33AM

OVER 49: ENG 129/3 (Malan 16* Root 23*)   

Cummins, the pick of the Aussie quicks, comes round the wicket to Malan and gets a frustrated swing out of the England batsman. One off the over for Root.

The Bob Stand Credit: PA

5:27AM

OVER 48: ENG 128/3 (Malan 16* Root 22*)   

There are the runs. Slightly wide from Starc and Root punishes it through the covers. Four, a handsome one at that. Short ball afterwards yields a single to fine leg.

5:23AM

OVER 47: ENG 123/3 (Malan 16* Root 17*)   

Maiden number four in a row, 26 balls since the last run. Malan's timing not quite there yet.

5:18AM

OVER 46: ENG 123/3 (Malan 16* Root 17*)   

Although, don't take too much time. There's definitely runs in this wicket. Maiden for Starc, more on his speed below.

Credit: BT SPORT

5:15AM

OVER 45: ENG 123/3 (Malan 16* Root 17*)   

Maiden too for Cummins. Neither batsman in a hurry, taking their time in a bid to see out the rest of the day.

5:12AM

OVER 44: ENG 123/3 (Malan 16* Root 17*)   

Starc back in and getting a nice bit of in-swing. Root looking sharp, light on his feet. Maiden, although not his quickest, raising the question...

5:05AM

OVER 43: ENG 123/3 (Malan 16* Root 17*)        

Sniff of a caught and bowled for Root to Cummins, but it drops marginally short. Not far off though. One off the over for Root.

4:54AM

Final session of the day coming up 

Happy New Year one and all, BC here taking over from AT. Handy start for England earlier at 88/1 that has sadly turned into 122/3. 

James Vince is going to make us weep isn't he. What a delightful drive this is, enough to suggest at the very least that once he gets it right, he could be special. 'Once's and 'could's are fat use at the moment though, given how soft his dismissal was.

Final session to come then and we should be playing until 7:30am-8:00am GMT. 

4:45AM

TEA: England 122/3 (Root 16* Malan 16*) off 42 overs

So a marathon session after the morning was lost to rain. England won the toss and batted, it felt like a decent toss to lose. Stoneman and Vince both looked nice but got out for nothing scores in the twenties. Cummins had both of their wickets, Vince's with a notably leave-able ball.

Cook looked in decent touch until getting a hairline LBW decision on DRS. Lyon has been allowed to settle in and the three seamers have been rotated. Starc doesn't look quite on his game. Hazlewood exemplary, Cummins bouncy and slyly threatening, like Tigger with a switchblade. 

The man Ben Coles is here to take it to the house. Cheers.

4:41AM

OVER 42: ENG 122/3 (Root 16* Malan 16*)                                    

Root singles. Lyon willing to really attack, he's got two slips, a short leg for Malan. Who uses the feet to defend. Apart from those two fours Cook hit off Lyon in consecutive balls before the last drinks, Lyon has been able to dictate terms. Malan uses the feet here though, and that's a nice drive for four through the covers.

4:39AM

OVER 41: ENG 117/3 (Root 15* Malan 12*)                                   

Hazlewood's last ball hoops back in viciously, England cannot have enjoyed the sight of that. Oh dear. Malan played it well, I guess.

4:34AM

OVER 40: ENG 116/3 (Root 14* Malan 12*)                                  

With the struggling Moeen at seven, and the debutant Mason Crane (first-class batting average of 12) on the card at eight, this is as long a tail as England have fielded for a while. I would imagine Curran (FC ave 17) would come in ahead of the newbie but either way, England have to think that whatever their top six manage is going to be more or less their lot.

Couple off Lyon, no dramas. But he's just so settled...

4:30AM

OVER 39: ENG 114/3 (Root 13* Malan 11*)                                 

Hazlewood. Lovely drive from Root into the covers, looks like four all the way, but there is Nathan Flipping Lyon to save one run and keep it to three. Malan sways nicely out the way of a jawbreaker.

4:26AM

OVER 38: ENG 108/3 (Root 10* Malan 8*)                                

Lyon is not just accurate, he is getting the odd one to rag. You don't need to do it every time. Just enough. Malan is well beaten here outside off. Also tries and fails with a sweep. Steady. Malan drives the ball into the covers for a couple.

4:22AM

OVER 37: ENG 106/3 (Root 10* Malan 6*)                               

Hazlewood with a short ball to Root, Joe takes it on with the hook but does not get the shot right, it is on him a bit quick and he has top-edged this! Ooooooooooohhhhhh Mitchell Starc at deep backward square leg. The ball just has a bit too much on it and Mitchell cannot get round in time. A jittering way to get four.

4:19AM

OVER 36: ENG 102/3 (Root 6* Malan 6*)                              

Single to each man off Lyon-o. England cannot get him away and, with the scoreboard as it stands, dare not attempt to. Tea is at 20-to the hour.

4:17AM

OVER 35: ENG 100/3 (Root 5* Malan 5*)                             

Suggestion of shape for the excellent Hazlewood? Certainly he finds the inside edge of Root's bat in this maiden.

4:12AM

Here is that Cook LBW

4:11AM

OVER 34: ENG 100/3 (Root 5* Malan 5*)                            

Lyon bowling beautifully. Feel like he is going to have a big say in this match sooner or later. He draws Malan forward here and beats him with a ripper. Malan in this over square drives for two, and then cuts for two.

4:09AM

OVER 33: ENG 96/3 (Root 5* Malan 1*)                           

Malan welcomed to the crease with some short stuff.

4:05AM

WICKET! Cook lbw Hazlewood 39

Given not out but overturned on review!

Cook hit on the pads by the new bowler Josh Hazlewood. Third ball. Looks a very good shout in terms of the stumps but I think a bit leg side maybe? No! Cook is gone! Oooh that is major, major, major.

Credit: BT Sport 1

Blimey that is hard lines on Alastair. I mean, to overturn that. Wow. I mean, I can see that you could call that an umpire's call obviously. I think he can feel a bit unfortunate there. Well, look at the scorebook. FOW 95/3

Credit: BT Sport 1

4:01AM

OVER 32: ENG 95/2 (Cook 39* Root 5*)                          

And there's one off Lyon. I reckon if the Aussies can break this before tea then England could get rolled.

4:01AM

OVER 31: ENG 94/2 (Cook 38* Root 5*)                         

Root crunches a square cut for four off Cummo.

3:55AM

OVER 30: ENG 90/2 (Cook 38* Root 1*)                        

Couple of Lyon-o. His eight overs for 18 allowing Smith to rotate the three quicks as he wishes.

3:50AM

OVER 29: ENG 88/2 (Cook 37* Root 0*)                       

Joe Root survives his first ball. Key partnership, etc etc. They put on 138 in Melbourne, that was their highest Ashes partnership by some distance. 68 next after that.

A fine series for a player who had been identified as, if not exactly a weak link, certainly not one to fear. 

3:48AM

WICKET! Vince c Paine b Cummins 25

Well, that's James Vince for you. This one from Cummins is really wide, it practically IS a wide. Flat-footed, flat-footed slash at the ball, does well to reach it, and edges behind. "If you put together a highlights package of his shots, and one of his dismissals, you'd ask if it was the same guy," says Geoffrey. IKWYM. Vince yet again flatters to deceive. FOW 88/2

3:41AM

OVER 28: ENG 86/1 (Cook 36* Vince 24*)                      

That round definitely goes to Cook on points, he has played Lyon superbly. Comes down the pitch ball four. Does not score off it, but it obliges Lyon to pull his length back on the next two deliveries. Cook crunches them both through point for four off the back foot. Well batted. England will enjoy these drinks.

3:38AM

OVER 27: ENG 78/1 (Cook 28* Vince 24*)                     

Yes James! He's fairly walloped that one, Cummo tried to dig the ball in but it sat up and begged for the treatment. Four to midwicket. Cracker. Cummins redresses the balance with a short, brisk delivery.

3:34AM

OVER 26: ENG 73/1 (Cook 27* Vince 20*)                    

Vince tries to work the ball, ends up playing it back to the bowler, Lyon.

3:32AM

OVER 25: ENG 71/1 (Cook 27* Vince 18*)                   

Starc off. Cummins on. Cook plays him well. Two off the pads. Two dabbed to off. England enjoying a decent little spell here and they have the early signs of an opportunity. This will turn later.

3:26AM

OVER 24: ENG 65/1 (Cook 22* Vince 17*)                  

Nice over from Lyon to Vince, some flighted, some darted, he's a very clever bowler. Another maiden.

3:25AM

OVER 23: ENG 65/1 (Cook 22* Vince 17*)                 

Starc's paces slumping throughout this non-threatening over, down to 82 mph. He's not looking likely - although with him bowling wide and Vince crashing at it, you never know.

3:19AM

OVER 22: ENG 64/1 (Cook 22* Vince 16*)                

Cook plays Lyon well in that over.

3:18AM

OVER 21: ENG 64/1 (Cook 22* Vince 16*)               

Starc flicks Cook's trouser pocket - with the ball, I mean, not that he tried to grab his bottom - and there's an appeal that never feels quite convincing. Wide and wild from Starc, and a shot to match from Vince. Four. Neither of them is quite convincing so far, but they are both exciting cricketers to watch and they can do damage.

3:13AM

OVER 20: ENG 59/1 (Cook 21* Vince 12*)              

Lyon. Cook plays the ball off the back foot, two there. Adds a single.

3:09AM

OVER 19: ENG 56/1 (Cook 18* Vince 12*)             

What a shot this is from Vince. Creamed.

Spanks another four later in the over. England have got the better of Starc-o for the time being. 

3:03AM

OVER 18: ENG 48/1 (Cook 18* Vince 4*)            

Lyon. Tidy. Maiden. Fifth ball of the over is the bobbydazzler! Pitches on off stump and it rips six inches past the bat. You only need one of them early in the spell just to get in the batsman's head. Cook well beaten prodding, no shame in that.

3:01AM

OVER 17: ENG 48/1 (Cook 18* Vince 4*)           

Starc comes back. Spraying it about a bit, but the guy is a wicket-taker, and with Hazlewood and Cummins at the other end, he can do his thang. Part of England's problems in the series have been that without the reliable Stokes, Ali has not been able to be as purely attacking. Anyhow, Starc's first one is too straight, and the next one is too wide, and Cook plops them both for a couple. Single too.

Credit: BT Sport 1

2:56AM

OVER 16: ENG 43/1 (Cook 13* Vince 4*)          

They say here that if it seams it turns, and Nathan Lyon is about to have a looky lou. Getting some overspin, certainly. Lyon-o not a big ragger of the ball so jury's out on that. Vince unpacks that attractive cover drive and has himself a couple.

2:53AM

OVER 15: ENG 40/1 (Cook 12* Vince 2*)         

Hazlewood with a rib tickler for Cook, cries of 'catch' but it lands safe behind square on legside. Useful stuff from Josh, getting the ball to climb past Vince's edge. 

2:51AM

Drinks: England 39/1 (Cook 11* Vince 2*)

Reasonable first hour for both sides, I guess. Plenty of nice shots, it looks a good pitch for batting but there has been a bit of nibble off the seam and the Aussies have bowled well.

2:45AM

OVER 14: ENG 39/1 (Cook 11* Vince 2*)        

Good gas from Cummo, who looks annoyed when a bumper is called wide on height. Smith, on the other hand, is absolutely DIS-GUSTED. They can have a grumble about that over drinks.

2:41AM

Stoney's wicket - good analysis

2:40AM

OVER 13: ENG 37/1 (Cook 10* Vince 2*)       

Bit of wobble from Hazlewood, Vince off the mark to the legside.

2:36AM

OVER 12: ENG 35/1 (Cook 10* Vince 0*)      

Honours even for Cook and Cummo here. Cook drives down the ground for four, and guides the ball behind point for a couple more. Cook tries a cut, though, and the ball flies over his flat-bat edge.

2:31AM

OVER 11: ENG 29/1 (Cook 4* Vince 0*)     

Single to ANC, and here's Vince Dog leaving Josh H on length. Tight but right.

2:27AM

OVER 10: ENG 28/1 (Cook 3* Vince 0*)    

Stoneman maybe could have left that on length, the bounce seems pretty true. Anyway, here's another nearly man in the series so far: James Vince. Keeps out a full ball, and that is over.

2:26AM

WICKET! Stoneman c Paine b Cummins 24

That's it, Stoneman has time for one more on drive for four, and then Cummins gets to work on him with some brisk, hostile, accurate stuff from around the wicket. Probing the channel, and now he gets one to climb a bit, chunky edge through the the reliable Paine, and that's the end of Stoneman for a neither-here-nor-there run-a-ball 24. FOW 28/1

Michael Carberry scored 281 runs in the 2013-2014 Ashes with a top score of 60 and an average of 28.10.

I make it 232 for Stoney so far at 29, with a top score of 56. 

Carbs never played for England again.

2:19AM

OVER 9: ENG 24/0 (Cook 3* Stoneman 20*)   

Hazlewood going to try from the other end, replacing Starc.

First ball, Cook could have left that.

Credit: BT Sport 1

Second ball is similar, and he plays loosely at that as well. Sixth stump line. Cook drawn into rashness by the angle on the crease.

2:16AM

OVER 8: ENG 24/0 (Cook 3* Stoneman 20*)      

Sir Geoffrey has a warning for Stoneman, too "he looks like he is trying to score off every ball", worries Boycott. Heaven forbid! (I know what GB means though, there is a slightly frantic suggestion about the opener).

He flicks the ball to leg for two, then forces off the back foot for four between the slips and gully. 

To that point...

2:12AM

OVER 7: ENG 18/0 (Cook 3* Stoneman 14*)     

Runs here! Shot of the morning, Stoneman leans into a full one and that's soon racing away down the ground. Width now, Stoney drives that for three through the offside. Cook a little late on a couple of shots here, warning to be had from that. No alarm per se, but...

2:08AM

OVER 6: ENG 11/0 (Cook 3* Stoneman 7*)    

Pat Cummins replaces Hazlewood, and is soon warming to his work with a decent maiden. The sun is peeking out.

2:03AM

OVER 5: ENG 11/0 (Cook 3* Stoneman 7*)   

Starc with a full, legside ball to each man. Cook clips his for one, and then Stoneman plays a similar shot but sends the ball all the way to the rope.

1:59AM

OVER 4: ENG 5/0 (Cook 2* Stoneman 2*)  

MP Vaughan has called the bounce "tennis ball" and says that makes driving risky. Stoneman nearly proves him all too right with an uppish poke to mid on.

Hazlewood bowling some class stuff from around the wicket to Cook. Angled in and then straightening. Lovely.

We are indeed seeing high levels of cricket today.

1:54AM

Playing times

1:53AM

OVER 3: ENG 3/0 (Cook 1* Stoneman 1*) 

Mixed bag from Starc but, as is often the way with him, there's a couple of belters in there as well. A very quick yorker hits Stoneman on the shin, but that was heading down leg. Follow up ball is the bumper. Spicy.

1:47AM

OVER 2: ENG 2/0 (Cook 1* Stoneman 1*)

Hazlewood begins with a pearler of his own. Stoneman drives, wet and wild, and is lucky to miss a ball that seams away from his off-stump. Wasted. On. Thee. Ya drongo. Stoneman off the mark second ball with an inside edge. Josh with another couple of nice ones to Cook, excellent lines again. He's called for some sawdust. Cook off the mark with an ungainly prod across the line, a bit like the way he was c & b to this bowler at Perth.

1:44AM

OVER 1: ENG 0/0 (Cook 0* Stoneman 0*)

Starc's first ball is a special yorker, perfectly bowled and well kept out by Alastair. Early signs of swing, but not quite in the right region to really trouble.

1:40AM

Starc to bowl at Cook

He has got three slips and a gully.

1:40AM

Never mind about that

Matt Smith has just apologised for erroneously referring to the Australian national anthem as 'Waltzing Matilda'!

1:39AM

Anthems

1:31AM

Anthems and the traditional welcome

1:31AM

Oh dear is that a few drops of rain?

They've got that matting cover on again! 

1:19AM

Another 20 minutes until we restart

1:18AM

Don't see what else Root could have done

But Mitchell Starc could well be a tough proposition if it swings in this moist air.

Is it rolling, Bob? No. It is not Credit: Getty

1:16AM

England team

1:16AM

Australia team

1:15AM

Graeme Swann

"I think it will grip and spin, I was only allowed to touch the top inside the crease but it is soft and I think it will turn."

1:11AM

Steve Smith

"Not too bothered about losing the toss. I would have batted but I was not too sure.

"One chance, Mitch back in for Jackson, who is unlikely. We thought about Ashton but we are comfortable how we are with the three quicks."

Smith has called right at just one of five tosses. So who has REALLY won The Ashes, eh? Eh? Oh.

1:09AM

Toss

Joe Root wins it. England will bat. Looks a little sheepish.

"It looks a pretty good wicket. Bit of weather around, but it should play well and we think it will spin later in the game. Chris is a bit sore from the last game, Tom Curran deserves a chance to bowl on a different wicket.

"Mason Crane is a very excited young man.

"This is a great place to play and we are proud to be part of the McGrath foundation day."

1:01AM

Toss coming up at ten past the hour

Let's spin, spin sugar.

12:49AM

Classic cricket

12:46AM

Lunch being taken

12:45AM

The covers are all-but off at Sydney

just that last hessian mat on the pitch.

Early lunch expected. Toss won't be for a while though. 

12:43AM

A word from the greatest of them all

12:35AM

Nick Hoult at the SCG

says that he cannot see them doing much before lunch.

12:32AM

Highlights on the TV

12:30AM

Spelling notwithstanding...

12:13AM

I enjoyed watching this

I really don't enjoy it when fans and journalists say that this England team isn't trying/don't care/have no heart. Sure, they have been outplayed at times on this tour, but I think they are a decent bunch who care deeply and passionately about their opportunity.

12:12AM

Toss... no toss

11:57PM

Rectangular fellow

11:54PM

Raining again

Raining again Credit: BT Sport 1

11:53PM

Given Sydney's reputation as a turner

I guess both captains would feel obliged to bowl, but I don't think either seam bowling attack would be too bothered to have a bowl under these clouds.

Steve Smith and Joe Root lead their teams into the 'Pink Test', the final match of this Ashes series Credit: PA

11:44PM

Fascinating bit of history from Scyld

11:41PM

Pitching in

11:38PM

Toss news

The toss will be at midnight UK time (i.e. 23 minutes). The start will be a half an hour after that (i.e. 53 minutes from now).

Oh. 

They're not exactly racing to get on with it, are they?

11:33PM

You want to bowl last on this wicket

Is the wisdom from the Aussie off-camera expert that I cannot place from voice alone...  is it Binger Lee? It's Binger Lee! Hello Brett.

11:27PM

Decent morning for a bowl

Covers coming off at Sydney Credit: BT Sport 1

11:25PM

Covers are coming off at Sydney

We'll have a start time for you as soon as possible.

11:21PM

Signing session

You're right, it's not all bad: England aren't having to bowl at Steve Smith for a few minutes. 

11:16PM

Graeme Swann gave Mason Crane his cap

If he has a half the career Swann did, England will be happy I think. Graeme very much a Black Swan among England spinners of my lifetime. Could tie up an end AND attack, got good players out in unhelpful conditions. Timed his run nicely with the advent of DRS and a proliferation of left-handers, sure, but what a bowler he was for England.

11:11PM

Delay

11:09PM

Covers resolutely on

It's looking pretty gloomy.

11:06PM

Best since Bradman?

Ali might be. Not sure about Smith, S myself. I mean, who has he actually faced?  Still, the numbers are sensational, and he's clearly got a tremendous mental game. I expect he'll be wanting another big 'un here.

Credit: BT Sport 1

11:04PM

Covers are still on

The toss is yet to happen.

10:59PM

Evening all

Tyers here. Apologies for the late start to this blog, we're beginning 2018 as we mean to go on here: with an IT nightmare. Cheers. Couldn't log in the computer, could he? Could equally be my own idiocy, let's never rule that out. Right then. Toss coming up.

10:58PM

Preview

  • Play to begin at 23.30 GMT

England are confident Mason Crane will meet the challenge of his Test debut head on in the heat of the Ashes.

Joe Root's tourists have pressed the 'gamble' button in search of a consolation victory in Sydney, having lost the urn before Christmas in Perth and then kept the scoreline at 3-0 thanks to a bore draw on a poor pitch in Melbourne.

A recurrence of Chris Woakes' side injury will keep him out of the final Test but not the forthcoming one-day international series against Australia or the tour of New Zealand still to come this winter.

England were already planning to retain out-of-form all-rounder Moeen Ali alongside 20-year-old novice leg-spinner Crane - so Woakes' absence merely means his fellow seamer Tom Curran can consolidate after his debut at the MCG.

Crane will become England's youngest specialist spinner since Ian Peebles 91 years ago but Root is confident he has the mettle to deal with the occasion.

"The way he has conducted himself for the whole trip has been outstanding," he said.

"For a young man to apply himself and absorb himself in the environment as he has is exactly what you are after.

"I can see a big progression in his game, and the way he went about those Twenty20s in an England shirt (last summer) shows he is not going to back down from any challenge.

"He has bowled well when he has had the [tour match] opportunities on this trip and it is a really good chance for him to show what he is capable of."