A fiery burst from Australia quick Jhye Richardson has put Australia Under-19s on top after the second day of the 'youth Ashes' at the Riverside Ground in Durham.
Despite a positive start courtesy of half centuries from openers Tom Alsop and Max Holden, England were reduced to 5-161 in reply to Australia’s first-innings total of 446 as Richardson collected 3-38 from 13 overs.
The pace combination of Richardson and New South Wales’ Liam Hatcher saw the hosts lose four wickets for 18 runs in the space of seven overs, before wicketkeeper-batsman Ryan Davies and allrounder Aaron Thomason shared an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 81 to steer England to 5-242 at stumps.
Earlier, Alsop and Holden had put on 95 in 36 overs to provide England with the solid start they needed after Jordan Gauci (111), Jake Doran (103) and Richardson (87) dominated with the bat for Australia.
Alsop played the more positively of the two left-handers, reaching 66 from 103 balls with nine fours and a straight six before he fell lbw to Tasmanian allrounder Fletcher Seymour.
Holden did not reach his half century until the 51st over of the innings, but showed impressive patience against some accurate Australia bowling until he edged a ball angled across him from Richardson and was caught by Ian Healy’s wicketkeeping son Tom in the last over before tea after making 55 from 169 balls.
Tom Alsop and Max Holden acknowledge their fifty partnership // Getty Images
His departure triggered a middle-order collapse, as Essex’s Dan Lawrence was smartly caught at second slip by Australia captain Jake Doran in the same Richardson over after tea.
Richardson, who caused England plenty of problems when the teams met in his home state of Western Australia earlier this year, then took his third wicket in the space of seven balls when he plucked out Callum Taylor’s off stump with a beauty.
Hatcher, an 18-year-old with more than a hint of Peter Siddle, bowled with impressive hostility from the Lumley Castle End to earn the wicket of England’s captain Haseeb Hameed, trapped lbw by a full inswinger after eking out 21 in 77 balls.
Holden said he relished the challenges presented by the Australian pace attack.
“(Richardson’s) definitely a good bowler – we knew that already from the games we played in Australia earlier in the year,” Holden told ecb.co.uk.
“I thought all the Australians bowled well and restricted us, which made it challenging for me and Tom. There was a bit of scoreboard pressure after we were in the field for so long, but we all knuckled down and we managed to get us off to a reasonable start.
“They knocked a few holes in our middle order, but the two lads at the end put the bad ball away superbly, and now we’ve got something to build on. We have got to hope we can get as close as we can to parity with their score.”
England still need another 55 to deny Australia the option of enforcing the follow-on in the four-day match, with Davies to resume unbeaten on 42 from 66 balls with Thomason, who restrained his naturally attacking instincts to make 31 not out from 80 balls.
Australia had also dominated the first hour of the day as they added 73 for the last two wickets after resuming on 8-373.
They were finally captured by Somerset allrounder Ben Green, who ended with three for 72, and Lancashire legspinner Matt Parkinson, whose figures were slightly dented but could still be happy with six for 130 after a marathon 38-over stint.
The 'underage Ashes' consists of four ODI matches and a Test match.
Click above to learn more about how to stream the Ashes and more cricket