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Brook and Stokes add to Australia’s agony in fourth Test

Harry Brook and Ben Stokes hit fifties as England stepped up their run-spree in the must-win fourth Test against Australia at Old Trafford on Friday.

England were 506-8 at lunch on the third day, 189 runs ahead of Australia’s first innings 317, after Brook had made 61 and skipper Stokes 51.

It was the first time since their 1985 series triumph against Australia that England had made 500 in a home Ashes innings.

At 2-1 down with two matches to play in the five-game series, England must win in Manchester to maintain their hopes of regaining the Ashes.

England resumed in 384-4, already 67 runs ahead, following opener Zak Crawley’s stunning 189 on Thursday.

Brook was 14 not out and Stokes 24 not out.

Stokes signalled his intentions when he thrashed Mitchell Starc’s second ball, a good length delivery, through midwicket for four.

Nevertheless, Stokes should have been run out by substitute fielder Michael Neser’s throw from deep cover, but wicketkeeper Alex Carey couldn’t gather cleanly and demolished the stumps with his gloves when the all-rounder was short of his ground.
England gave Australia another run-out chance when Stokes slammed a drive to Pat Cummins at mid-on.

Both batsmen set off before deciding against a single and Brook would have been out by a distance at the non-striker’s end had Cummins’s throw hit the stumps.

It was another moment to forget for Cummins after he was out to Thursday’s first ball before bowling 16 wicketless overs for an expensive 93 runs, as well as dropping catches and losing control in the field.

Brook, whose 75 had been key to England’s victory in the third Test at Headingley, kept the runs coming against an Australia attack without all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, off the field with muscle stiffness.

The rising star extended England’s advantage beyond 100 runs with two classic boundaries driven through the covers off successive deliveries from Starc.

Cummins eventually took his first wicket of the innings when he bowled Stokes, who had completed a 72-ball fifty.

It was the end of a stand of 86, with England 437-5.

Brook then went down the pitch to loft Cameron Green for four en route to an 80-ball fifty.

Australia took the new ball 10 overs after it was available, with England 471-5.

Soon afterwards, Brook top-edged a hook off paceman Hazlewood and Starc held a well-judged catch just inside the long-leg boundary.

Chris Woakes and Mark Wood, who had finished off England’s run chase at Headingley, both fell cheaply to Hazlewood (4-105).