England fought back with the ball after another batting collapse, but Australia remained on top after 17 wickets fell on a dramatic second day of the final Ashes Test.

Australia resumed on 241-6 in their first innings and were bowled out for 303 during Saturday's opening session, Stuart Broad taking 3-59 and Mark Wood 3-115 at Blundstone Arena.

The tourists then crumbled from 78-2 to 188 all out in reply, Chris Woakes top-scoring with 36 as the excellent Pat Cummins (4-45) and Mitchell Starc (3-53) did the bulk of the damage, with the ball zipping around off the seam and swinging prodigiously.

Australia were reduced to 5-2 in their second innings before closing on 37-3 in Hobart, leading by 152 runs and favourites to win the series 4-0.

Wood dismissed Starc and Cummins early on as Australia got the day's play under way, but Nathan Lyon struck the pacemen for three sixes as he held up England with a quickfire 31 and Alex Carey made 24, with Australia adding 51 runs for the last two wickets.

There was a sense of deja vu as England were two down early in their reply, Rory Burns run out without scoring on his return to the side and Zak Crawley caught by Travis Head at short leg to become Cummins' first victim.

Joe Root (34) and Dawid Malan steadied the ship, with left-hander Malan having a slice of fortune when he nicked Cameron Green behind with 13 to his name and Australia did not review.

Malan (25) was on his way after edging Cummins through to Carey, ending a third-wicket stand of 49, and England capitulated yet again, with Root trapped lbw by Australia's outstanding captain.

Lyon took a brilliant catch to get rid of Ben Stokes for four, before debutant Sam Billings (29) and Woakes offered some resistance, but Cummins ended another abysmal England innings by bowling Wood.

The tourists dazzled with the ball under the lights, with Warner bagging a pair and Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja departing, but Steve Smith (17no) and nightwatchman Scott Boland prevented further damage from being done.


Magnificent Cummins shows he's the best in the world

Cummins produced another exhibition of pace bowling as he exploited England's batting frailties yet again.

The Australia skipper was relentless and would have deserved a five-wicket haul, snaring Root with a brilliant delivery that nipped back sharply to claim the scalp of the England captain for the first time in the series.

He was supported well by Starc, Green (1-45) and Boland (1-33), who had Woakes dropped by both Warner and Khawaja early in the all-rounder's knock.


Woe for Warner as Broad strikes again, Robinson returns

It was an all too familiar story for Warner as he fell to Broad for the 14th time in Test cricket, Ollie Pope taking a stunning diving catch at point to remove the opener.

Not since Warner failed to score in both innings of the Old Trafford Ashes Test in 2019 had an Australian suffered the misery of getting a pair.

Woakes snared Labuschagne and Billings took a second Test catch when Khawaja gloved a brute of a rapid short ball from Wood. Ollie Robinson was unfortunate not to take a wicket when he returned to bowl after suffering back spams on day one as England finished a disappointing day strongly.

Australia's Travis Head struck a century to punish England on a rain-affected opening day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart.

The hosts, who have an unassailable 3-0 lead, finished Friday on 241-6 having earlier been reduced to 12-3 by an England side who won the toss and chose to bowl first.

England showed five changes from last week's drawn fourth Test in Sydney, including a debut for Sam Billings, and started in an impressive manner.

David Warner (0), Usman Khawaja (6) and Steve Smith (0) all went by the start of the 10th over, while Marnus Labuschagne would have followed had Zak Crawley not fumbled.

That may well prove a decisive moment in the final Test as Labuschagne and Head launched a counter-attack by scoring 53 runs from the next seven overs.

But on 71 from 72 balls, Labuschagne comically wrong-footed himself when attacking a Stuart Broad delivery and could only watch from the floor as Australia lost another wicket.

England lost bowler Ollie Robinson to injury and their problems were compounded by the work of Head, who continued to rack up the runs when joined by Cameron Green.

Head survived a big scare on his way to reaching 101 from 113 balls, but his day was ended after he chipped a Chris Woakes delivery to Robinson at mid-on.

Green got to 74 before holing out at deep mid-wicket and only nine more balls were bowled due to rain, with Mitch Starc (0) and Alex Carey (10) to resume play on Saturday.

Travis keeps his Head after Crawley loses his

England could not have asked for a much better start on the green surface, with Robinson and Broad dismantling Australia's top order by dismissing Warner and Smith for ducks.

But Crawley's drop of Labuschagne, combined with England's wayward bowling from that point on, allowed Head – recently sidelined due to COVID-19 isolation – to grab the fifth Test by the scruff of the neck.

He went past the 100 mark, becoming the seventh Australian to do so in a day/night men's Test innings after Warner, Labuschagne, Khawaja, Smith, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb.

Green shoots of recovery

Australia all-rounder Green had a maiden hundred in his sights, only to fall to Mark Wood's short-ball trap 16 runs shot of three figures.

At 22 years and 225 days, he is the youngest player to score 50 or more runs in a men's Test innings for Australia at Bellerive Oval and the fourth youngest overall at the ground.

Joe Root has backed Chris Silverwood to stay on as head coach despite England's disappointing Ashes campaign

Silverwood's position, which he has held since being promoted from bowling coach in October 2019, is under growing pressure with England 3-0 down to Australia.

The 46-year-old presided over the Test defeats in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne before missing last week's drawn fourth Test in Sydney because of COVID-19.

He is now back with the squad for the start of Friday's final Test in Hobart and Root is hopeful it will not be Silverwood's last at the helm.

Asked if he would like to see Silverwood remain in charge, Root said: "Yes, I would. 

"It was a difficult week for the group of players with him not being around and it must have been very difficult for him.

"But I think the performances we put in during the first three games, I feel we've let him and the coaches down to a degree. 

"We've not played anywhere near the level we're capable of. It's a chance to do that this week."

England have a three-Test series with West Indies to come after the Ashes and then host New Zealand, India and South Africa later in the year.

They suffered nine Test defeats in a logistically challenging 2021 that forced Silverwood to shuffle his resources due to COVID bubbles and player withdrawals.

And Root praised Silverwood for the manner in which he has gone about his business over the past 18 months or so.

"I think he's very calm, he has the respect of the guys and he's got a desperation to see everyone do well or up-skill the players as best he can," Root said. 

"He's had a very difficult time of it with the environments we've been living in, trying to manage winning matches with bubble environments away from home, and multi-format players trying to prepare for an Ashes and a World Cup. It's very difficult.

"For a long time we've not been able to put our best teams out because we've been constantly trying to make sure from a mental wellbeing point of view everyone is looked after properly, because of the schedule we've dealt with over two years."

Australia hold a perfect Ashes day-night record and England will have to put up another huge fight to prevent them from ending the series with a win in the historic Test in Hobart.

The tourists avoided a whitewash when they batted out a draw on a tense final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week, James Anderson and Stuart Broad preventing Australia from taking the one wicket they needed to go 4-0 up.

They will start a first-ever Ashes Test in Hobart on Friday with Pat Cummins' side strong favourites to make it three Test wins out of three over England under the lights.

The series finale was due to be staged in Perth, but was moved due to Western Australia's border restrictions.

England have not won a Test in Australia since they came out on top at the SCG 11 years ago and they have never looked like ending that drought during this one-sided series.

Blundstone Arena has been a happy hunting ground for Australia, the hosts nine out of 13 Tests in Hobart – that 69 per cent win rate being their best at any home ground where they face played more than twice in the longest format.

A draw stopped the rot for the tourists, but they are winless in seven away Tests. It is their longest run without a victory on their travels since a 13-match barren spell from October 2016 to March 2018.

Both sides face selection dilemmas for what Australia hope will be their 150th Test victory over their fierce rivals. Their next best winning record is against West Indies (58 victories).

England, meanwhile, will simply be hoping for a win to at least take some positives from what has been a miserable tour. However, in both day-night meetings between these sides to dates, Australia have triumphed by 120 runs (in December 2017 and December 2021).

Head return leaves Harris vulnerable

Usman Khawaja could not have wished to make a bigger impact after getting the nod at the SCG, scoring a century in both innings of his first Test since August 2019.

Khawaja became the first player to plunder a ton in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting 

The experienced left-hander replaced Travis Head, who missed out after testing positive for coronavirus.

Head is fit for the fifth Test and averages 62 in the series, so he is set to come back into the side. Khawaja believed he was unlikely to retain his place despite his brilliance in Sydney, though there is a possibility the 35-year-old could find himself opening, with Marcus Harris potentially making way. 

Josh Hazlewood is still unavailable due to a side injury, while Mitchell Starc says he does not need a rest and that is no surprise given his outstanding record in day-night Tests.

Billings set for Test bow

Sam Billings is poised to make his Test debut for England after Jos Buttler flew home with a broken finger.

Billings drove over 500 miles to answer an England SOS call, having been in Queensland playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

Ben Stokes (side) and Jonny Bairstow (thumb) batted through the pain barrier in Sydney and will be checked on, with the vice-captain possibly playing only as a batter.

Rory Burns could be recalled in place of a struggling Haseeb Hameed, while Ollie Robinson will be hoping to come back into the team and head coach Chris Silverwood is back with the touring party after missing the fourth Test due to coronavirus.

Captain Joe Root (23) is one away from recording the outright second most hundreds for England in men's Tests, while he has scored 847 runs in the red-ball format in Australia – the second-most by any non-Australian player without having scored a century in the country.

Broad, meanwhile, is only four wickets shy of becoming England's second all-time leading wicket taker against Australia in men's Tests. The paceman is on 125 as it stands, three behind the late Bob Willis (128), with Ian Botham the record holder with 148.

Joe Root plans to give Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow as much time as possible to be fit for a fifth and final Ashes Test in which he challenged England to show "fight" and "desire" from "ball one".

Star all-rounder Stokes has already confirmed in his column for The Mirror that he will not be able to bowl in the day-night Test in Hobart having suffered a "low grade tear" in his side during the gritty draw in Sydney that ensured Australia cannot secure a 5-0 series whitewash.

Jonny Bairstow scored a gutsy first-innings century in that match but was forced to play through the pain barrier after receiving a hefty blow on the thumb from Pat Cummins, an injury that meant he could not regain the gloves from Jos Buttler, who has travelled home with a broken thumb, in the second innings.

Captain Root said both men will be assessed over the next couple of days before a decision is made.

"We've got to just see where they're at over the next couple of days, see what their bodies can handle and then assess from there," Root told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Certainly you can pick Ben as a bat, Jonny too. We have to see where they are at, what their bodies can handle.

"You have to trust the medical advice. Those guys work tirelessly to make sure we are in the best possible position to go and win games and sometimes that is making some difficult calls.

"I think they need to make sure they feel like they're physically in a place where they can get through five days of hard cricket, whatever Australia throw at them, and they're in a position where they can go out and play and firstly, get through the game, but also, most importantly put in a performance as they managed to last week as well. 

"It's alright being fit to play but you've got to be fit to perform and I think that's what we've got to work out."

Stokes made two half centuries in Sydney, while Bairstow made a hard-earned 41 in the second to add to his century with both men proving crucial as England bravely fought for a draw after being heavily beaten in each of the first three Tests.

England were still largely outplayed by the hosts and had to dig deep to avoid defeat. Root wants to see the same kind of guts throughout the duration of the contest in Hobart.

"On the back of three very difficult games where we underperformed, to come back and get something from the last game showed a great amount of character," he added.

"There was an element of relief managing to get through those last few overs but the desire, the fight and the pride that everyone showed on that last day is something we have to harness.

"We have to play like that more frequently through the five days, not just on the last day when everything is on the line, but from ball one. We've proved to ourselves that we can do it, now can we take it a step further?

"Can we make sure we do it in a winning cause rather than just trying to save a Test match? We have something to build on – that’s what we have to take from the last game and into this one."

Mitchell Starc is not putting his hand up for a rest ahead of the day-night fifth Ashes Test despite being Australia's only fast bowler to play all four matches this series.

Australia and England will resume hostilities in the final Ashes Test starting on Friday in Hobart with the hosts 3-0 up after the Sydney Test ended as a draw on Sunday.

Starc has impressed during this series with 15 wickets from four matches, behind only spinner Nathan Lyon (16), at an average of 26.6. He has also been commendable with the bat, contributing 151 runs at 75.5.

Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser are in contention after unluckily losing their spots following good displays in the second Test in Adelaide while Scott Boland is likely to be available despite hurting his ribs in Sydney, but Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out due to his ongoing side injury.

Left-armer Starc has bowled the most overs of any quick in the series, clocking up 134.1 overs but brushed aside speculation of a rest.

"It's purely up to the selectors. I'm not looking for a break," Starc told reporters on Wednesday.

"It's the last Test match of an Ashes series at home. It's the pink ball too. I'd very much like to play.

"It's in the hands of the selectors. I won't be asking for a rest."

Starc's ability to swing the pink ball makes him an enticing prospect for the day-night Test, which will be the first ever played in Hobart.

The 31-year-old paceman took 37-4 and 43-2 across both innings with the pink ball in the day-night Adelaide Test last month.

"I think we saw in Adelaide the pink ball didn’t swing anywhere near as much as we've seen in the past," Starc said.

"It's likely going to be very different in Hobart. I've not played with a pink ball here. We'll have to have a look at the wicket and see what that's like. There's a number of factors [on selection].

"We'll be trying to carry on the plan of attack that we had in Adelaide and hopefully that's a positive result for us here this week."

Australia captain Pat Cummins wishes the weather had been on his team's side after England frustrated their hosts to draw the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

James Anderson batted out the final over of the day – and the 102nd of England's second innings – at the Sydney Cricket Ground to ensure the tourists reached 270-9 at stumps and avoided a series whitewash.

With the Ashes already lost after a dismal opening three Tests, Joe Root's team performed resiliently to restore some pride heading into the final match in Hobart.

They relied on some good fortune, too. Rain delayed the restart in the second session on Sunday, further stalling Australia after they had clinched the important wicket of Zak Crawley (77), who became England's third-youngest opener to score a half-century in an away Ashes series, just before lunch. Rain also effected play earlier in the match.

Cummins, meanwhile, held on late to declare on day four despite Australia having built a towering lead, with Crawley and Haseeb Hameed only facing 35 minutes at the crease late on Saturday.

"Obviously, [we were] really keen [for the win]," Cummins said at the post-match presentation.

"But I think it was a great game of Test cricket, we got close. A bit less weather might have got us there but it was a really hard-fought match – that's why we all love it. We'd have loved to go up 4-0, but it was a good match.

"The weather forecasts are hopeless, I learned that this week. I think day four was meant to rain all day. I was ready to follow-on, we'd have had a full day of sunlight yesterday to bowl in."

Asked about his late declaration, Cummins added: "Being in a position to get up close to 400, I think we needed that.

"The wicket wasn't playing many tricks, we’ve got some class batters. Today was good fun, I felt really lucky to have genuine bowlers plus Smithy [Steve Smith] and Marnus [Labuschagne] to throw the ball to. It felt like we were right in with a shot."

Australia were led in the fourth Test by the magnificent Usman Khawaja, who marked his first appearance in their red-ball side since the 2019 Ashes series with a hundred in each innings.

He became just the third player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test, and the first since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in 2006, also against England.

"Two hundreds, no it can't [get much better]," Usman said.

"It was a terrific game. We'd have loved to win but it was a great game, a great fight from England, Test cricket at its best, right down to the wire. It could have gone either way – we couldn't ask for much more."

Khawaja has already said he does not expect to be in Australia's team for the final Test, with Travis Head expected to return from a coronavirus-enforced absence, but the 35-year-old knows he has a big role to play over the next 12 months.

"I'm enjoying the game, love the game. There's lots of ups and downs. I fully know I could go out next time I play and get two ducks, it's just the way this game is," he continued.

"That's why we love it. It's such a hard game. It's really satisfying. There's nothing harder that Test cricket, when you perform like that you know you've done something right.

"There's a lot of cricket coming up. Fingers crossed we stay healthy. The guys have played unbelievably before this game, 3-0 up. We couldn't have asked for much more from this series and hopefully the next game we can win that, and then win a few games away."

England have stubbornly held on for a thrilling draw with one wicket left to halt Australia's bid for an Ashes series whitewash at the SCG on Sunday.

Australia needed 10 wickets on the final day to claim a 4-0 series lead in the fourth Ashes Test but could only claim nine, with tail-ender Jimmy Anderson staving off the final over from Steve Smith.

Smith had claimed the ninth wicket with the final ball of the 100th over, meaning Anderson (0*) and Stuart Broad (8*) had to navigate two more overs but survived.

England, who resumed at 30-0 needing an improbable 388 for victory, got through 91 overs on the final day, with Australia taking five final session wickets to apply intense pressure.

Zak Crawley (77), Ben Stokes (60) and Jonny Bairstow (41) led the rearguard despite the latter two being hampered by injuries, before Leach (26), Broad and Anderson saw England through to a draw in fading light.

MCG hero Scott Boland (30-3) was the pick of the bowlers along with Nathan Lyon (28-2) and captain Pat Cummins (80-2), who claimed two wickets in three balls in the final session to ignite the home crowd.

Crawley offered positive resistance in the first session but was trapped lbw by all-rounder Cameron Green for 77 before lunch, after Boland got Hameed early and Lyon had bowled Dawid Malan.

Rain delayed the resumption before England were stubborn in the second session, scoring only 52 runs in 21 overs but Australia got the key wicket of Joe Root (24) to Boland.

The game came to life in the final session, with Stokes' heroic stand ending caught by Steve Smith at slip off Lyon for 60 from 123 balls. Cummins struck twice in three balls in the 85th over, trapping both Jos Buttler and Mark Wood lbw to give the hosts real hope.

Jonny Bairstow was dropped by Smith at second slip on 28 but Boland struck again, when England's last remaining recognised batsman edged onto his pad allowing Marnus Labuschagne to catch at silly mid-off for 41.

Leach, who batted for more than an hour, and Broad fought hard, with the former edging off Carey's gloves to Warner late, before England's final two did enough to claim a hard-earned draw.

Sam Billings has joined the England Ashes squad, driving more than 500 miles down the Australian coast to ease the tourists' injury crisis.

With Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler both doubtful for the fifth and final Test of England's disappointing Ashes series, Billings got the call to join the squad just 90 minutes before he was due to leave Australia.

The 30-year-old was in Queensland with Big Bash League side Sydney Thunder, and spoke of his surprise at the call-up, after driving down the east coast of the country alone, as a precaution against COVID-19.

"I thought it was a joke," a thrilled Billings said in an interview with BBC Sport's Test Match Special program.

"I was due to go to Brisbane airport to fly home, and instead I went to Gold Coast airport to pick up a rental car, and I was on my way."

Ollie Pope stood in behind the stumps for England on day four of the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with both Bairstow and Buttler waiting on scans after sustaining hand injuries.

Pope took four catches before the hosts declared at 265-6.

England's prospects of victory look unlikely, given they are chasing a target of 388. However, openers Zak Crawley and Haseeb Hameed were disciplined in a short spell at the crease in the evening session on Saturday, and the tourists' focus will now be on securing a draw to avoid going 4-0 down in the series.

Billings is hoping to make a positive impact in the final Test. Should he feature, he will become the 700th man to represent England in the longest format. 

"I've had to bide my time for an opportunity or consistent game time," Billings said. "I'm really enjoying my cricket, to have the chance to play and not just to run the drinks, I've done that too much!

"I want to prove, not only to myself, but also to other people, that I'm not just a fill-in, I am good enough to warrant a place in the side.

"If the opportunity does arise then there's no pressure on me. It's something that no one really expected, and I've got nothing to lose. That's a great place to be, and sometimes that's when you play your best cricket."

Billings then discussed the rather unique overnight journey that he undertook to meet up with the squad. 

"It's been quite a long drive, I'm not going to lie," said Billings. "People don't realise how big Australia is. It really is vast."

After an overnight stop near the border between Queensland and New South Wales, the 30-year-old continued his journey "at the crack of dawn" on Saturday morning, and was at least able to take in some of the country's scenery. 

"I've been on a motorway through lots of trees, hills and rivers. It's been pleasant, better than the M25!"

Australia's Usman Khawaja is expecting to miss out on a place in the side for the final Ashes Test, despite his stunning display at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England will need to bat out the final day at the SCG on Sunday, and perhaps hope for help from the weather, as they look to seal a draw from the fourth Test and stave off the threat of a 5-0 series whitewash.

The tourists will resume on 30-0, their highest opening partnership of the series so far, after Australia declared on 265-6 in their second innings.

England had kept themselves in the fight thanks to Jonny Bairstow's century on day three, and added 36 runs to their overnight total in the morning session on Saturday.

Their bowlers started well, reducing Australia to 68-3 by the time Khawaja came to the crease, and Steve Smith's dismissal then left the hosts at 86-4.

Yet Khawaja, who marked his recall in place of coronavirus-hit Travis Head with 137 in the first innings, went on to thwart England's bowling attack once more, with his unbeaten 101 leading Australia into a 387-run lead.

Khawaja, who played for New South Wales and currently is a star man for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, became the first player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in January 2006, also against England.

However, the 35-year-old, who had not appeared in an Australia Test team since facing England at Headingley in 2019, does not expect his performance to be enough to secure his spot in the XI for the final match in Hobart.

"At the moment I'm quite resigned to the fact that I'll probably miss out," Khawaja told reporters. "That's just from talking to [head selector] George Bailey about continuity. That's important, I'm not totally against that process.

"I felt like throughout my career, a lot of changes were made and I was on the wrong side of them, so I'm the first to say that I think there needs to be structure and stability. I know how hard it is for a cricketer chopping and changing.

"I actually like the processes that the selectors have been taking throughout the series, so at the moment I'm not really expecting to play the next match, but I'll always be ready.

"Someone else may get COVID or something else happens. Heady batted beautifully in that first Test. I'd be very surprised if too much changed. Scotty Boland was amazing last game, something I'm not sure I'll see again, and he was going to be dropped. It's just the reality. It sucks, but that's just cricket."

While Khawaja is not expecting to play in Tasmania, he may also be joined in watching on by England trio Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Bairstow.

Stokes scored a resilient 66 as he battled through a side strain in England's first innings, while both Buttler and Bairstow did not field on Saturday after sustaining hand injuries.

Ollie Pope filled in at wicketkeeper, taking four catches, while Sam Billings has been called up by England for the Hobart Test, and assistant coach Graham Thorpe does not know if the trio will be fit to return.

"We've obviously got some blows. It's possible [they will miss the final Test] but we will be assessing all of that at the end of the game," he told reporters.

England were forced to field Ollie Pope as a substitute wicketkeeper in the second innings of the fourth Ashes Test with Australia.

Injuries to Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow left both unable to field at the Sydney Cricket Ground as England attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.

Buttler injured his left index finger while Bairstow scored England's first century of the series with an injured thumb.

He returned to bat in the morning session on day four but was unable to don the gloves, which were instead handed to Pope.

Pope claimed a pair of catches prior to lunch as Australia were reduced to 66-2, a lead of 188 after England were bowled out for 294.

The substitute keeper claimed a third catch in the afternoon session as Marnus Labuschagne was caught behind for 29.

Sam Billings, playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, has been called up to England's Test squad.

 

Justin Langer has revealed that Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood is unlikely to be fit for the final Ashes Test in Hobart.

Hazlewood suffered a side injury in the first match of the series against England at the Gabba.

It was thought that the quick, who turns 31 on Saturday, could return in the last match of the series at Blundstone Arena but Australia head coach Langer says it appears that game could come too soon for Hazlewood.

He said: "At this stage it is looking like that. Unfortunately Josh hasn't come up, hopefully he'll be right for the white-ball games.

"It's been really tough on him, he has been really hanging out to play in this Ashes series like everyone.

"He has missed three games, so to have one of our premier fast bowlers out of the series, I guess it is a bit like England missing one of their premier fast bowlers [Jofra Archer] – we've missed big Josh.

"At this stage, if I was a guessing man I'd say that he probably won't play the next Test match but we will wait and see."

Scott Boland underwent a scan after jamming his elbow into his ribs while bowling on a rain-affected day three of the fourth Test at the Sydney Ground, where Jonny Bairstow made an unbeaten 103 as the tourists closed on 258-7 in reply to Australia's 416-8 declared.

But Langer is hopeful Boland will be able to help Australia try and move into a 4-0 lead at the SCG. 

"It's amazing modern technology – he went for a scan just after the [tea] break and we were looking at his ribs on the computer screen about half an hour later," said Langer.

"So thankfully there's no fractures. He's going to be sore in the cartilage between his ribs but hopefully he'll be right to bowl tomorrow or in the second innings.

"Whether it's tomorrow morning, but in the second innings definitely."

Jonny Bairstow was full of pride at his performance on day three of the fourth Ashes Test after his 103 not-out kept England fighting.

Joe Root's team have already lost any chance of regaining the urn, having suffered defeat in the opening three Tests, and they looked down and out at 36-4 at the Sydney Cricket Ground early in Friday's play.

However, Ben Stokes (66) and Bairstow put on a fifth-wicket stand of 128 to guide the tourists to 164.

Stokes' battling innings, in which he was struggling with an apparent side strain, came to an end when he misjudged a Nathan Lyon delivery and was trapped lbw, and England looked in danger of failing to avoid the follow-on when Jos Buttler got out cheaply for a duck.

Yet Bairstow and Mark Wood (39) fought back, with the latter hitting three sixes during an entertaining 41-ball spell that was ended by Pat Cummins.

Bairstow stayed at the crease, though, and cut Australia's captain for four to surpass 100 in the final over of the day, with England closing on 258-7, 158 runs behind.

It was Bairstow's seventh Test century, and his first since 2018, while no England player had scored an Ashes 100 in Australia since Alistair Cook back in 2017, with England's then captain scoring 244 on that occasion.

Bairstow was not selected for the first two Tests but returned to the fold in Melbourne, scoring 35 in the first innings and five in the second.

The 32-year-old, who made his Test debut in May 2012, also moved onto 1,033 runs scored against Australia.

Bairstow was clearly overjoyed when he celebrated his century. It was a poignant moment, with this Test having started on the 24th anniversary of the death of his father David, himself a former England wicketkeeper.

"Extremely proud, really, really proud. You've known me for long enough and how much that means," Bairstow told BT Sport. "Unbelievable, I was ecstatic, extremely proud, there's a lot of hard work gone into that one.

"It's been tough, you've got to dig deep, you really have. People mention the scheduling, how much red-ball cricket people are playing leading into massive series like this, it's not just this series, it's the India series, the India series before that when we were over there.

"You've got to delve very deep, on things you've worked hard at over a number of years. 

"Tried not to be too rigid. You can look at technique a lot. Some things work but other times you've got to keep being natural about the way you're moving or you become a bit clunky and too rigid. That's what I feel sometimes got to, trying to be something potentially that I'm not.

"My strength is putting pressure back on the bowlers, running between the wickets, trying to get them off the length to then give me a different ball. I wasn't necessarily doing that, but that also comes with spending time out in the middle consistently."

 

Bairstow took a nasty blow to his thumb from a rapid Cummins delivery just after Stokes' dismissal, but fought through the pain barrier.

"Slightly sore, it's starting to get a bit sorer now we've come off the field," he said. "I was hurting! 

"You're playing in a New Year's Test match in Sydney, on the Pink Day, it's going to take a heck of a lot to get you off the field. You've still got a job to do. Yes it's sore, it will be sore, but you're playing cricket for England and I'm very proud to do that."

An England victory still looks incredibly unlikely but, with rain possibly in store over the coming days, a draw is on the cards as the tourists aim to avoid a 5-0 whitewash.

"We've got two days to scrap and scrap hard," Bairstow added.

"We had a challenge this morning to still be batting at the end of the day. They've got a new ball coming, so tomorrow is about scrapping hard again. We got to the follow-on and past that, let's see how close we can get."

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