By Sam Drury at Lord’s
Last Updated: 18/08/19 2:06pm
Ben Stokes reached his 19th Test fifty as he and Jos Buttler batted through a shortened morning session to extend England’s lead to 165 after Steve Smith was ruled out of the final day at Lord’s due to delayed concussion.
Marnus Labuschagne was then named as Test cricket’s first concussion substitute soon after play began following a rain delay.
Stokes (51no) and Buttler (31no) added 61 in the 80-minute session, taking their partnership to 86 and England up to 157-4, and while all results remain possible, the draw now seems most likely unless there is a clatter of wickets in the first hour after lunch.
The start was delayed by an hour and 10 minutes due to rain and shortly after play got under way, Cricket Australia confirmed that Smith would not feature again in the match due to delayed concussion with Labuschagne coming in as the ‘like-for-like’ replacement.
Having passed the concussions tests yesterday following a nasty blow to the neck off Jofra Archer, Smith was said to have woken up with a headache and a feeling of grogginess and subsequently showed signs of concussion in a follow-up assessment.
As a result, he is now a major doubt for the next Test that starts at Headingley on Thursday.
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On the field, Stokes showed positive intent early on as he tried to get after Pat Cummins but he also needed some luck as he edged Nathan Lyon just wide of David Warner at slip.
The left-hander was the more aggressive of the England pair throughout the morning, reaching his half-century from 106 balls, while Buttler dug in for much of the morning before unleashing a couple of drives off Lyon as lunch approached.
While Australia just need to try and bowl England out as quickly as possible if they are to force a win, it remains to be seen if and when Joe Root begins to contemplate a declaration to give his side a chance to level the series.
Watch continued live coverage of the second Test between England and Australia on Sky Sports The Ashes.