3rd Test: Australia lose Harris, Khawaja early amid intermittent showers
Stuart Broad removed Usman Khawaja cheaply (AFP Photo)

Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja both fell cheaply to leave Australia 39/2 on Thursday’s rain-marred opening day of the third Ashes Test against England at Headingley. Only 14.5 overs in an originally allocation of 90 in the day had been bowled when rain stopped play at 2.45 pm (1345 GMT) after delaying the scheduled start by more than an hour.


It was frustrating for England, looking to level the five-match series at 1-1, after captain Joe Root had won the toss in the hope of making the most of overcast, bowler-friendly conditions.

Australia had dropped opener Cameron Bancroft, who had made just 44 runs in four innings, and brought in Harris to partner David Warner at the top of the order after England had enjoyed the better of a rain-affected draw in the second Test at Lord’s.

Both left-handed batsmen struggled against England’s new-ball attack of Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer. The experienced Warner was repeatedly beaten by Broad jagging the ball off a length, while the express Archer, in his second Test, went past Harris’s outside edge.

Harris did leg-glance a stray Archer delivery for four and edged him short of Ben Stokes at third slip for another, far less convincing boundary.

Warner continues to struggle

But Archer, bowling from around the wicket, squared him up with an 87.3 mph delivery that saw Harris get a thin edge through to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow — like Root appearing on his home ground. Moments after Harris had fallen for eight, with Australia 12-1 off four overs, the umpires took the players off the field after deciding that a fresh shower was now too strong for play to continue.

It took Warner 14 balls to get off the mark as he continued to struggle, although Broad may have bowled a fraction too short with several deliveries beating the outside edge without really challenging the batsmen.

But he did take a wicket when Khawaja, the third left-hander in Australia’s top three, made thin contact with an intended leg glance and was caught behind as he too fell for eight. England, however, had to review New Zealand umpire Chris Gaffaney’s original not out decision before reducing Australia to 25/2.

Warner did punish a rare Archer half-volley with a four through points before the fast bowler, coached at Sussex by former Australia quick Jason Gillespie, beat new batsman Marnus Labuschagne on the drive. Australia, 1-0 after their 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston, made three changes to their side.

With Steve Smith ruled out with a concussion suffered when hit on the neck by a 92 mph Archer bouncer at Lord’s, Labuschagne — cricket’s inaugural concussion substitute when replacing Smith in the second Test — took over at Headingley.

Smith, however, was a huge loss to Australia having made scores of 144, 142 and 92 this series. Meanwhile fast bowler James Pattinson came in for paceman Peter Siddle. England were unchanged after opener Jason Roy was passed fit having been hit on the head batting in the nets on Tuesday.