Marnus, Warner fight but Archer's six floors Aussies
Pace sensation sparks horror collapse of 8-43, with opener and No.4 finding little support on opening day of third Ashes Test
Andrew Ramsey at Headingley, Leeds
23 August 2019, 11:00 AM AEST
Marnus Labuschagne took sizeable strides in the oversized shoes of Steve Smith that he's been compelled to fill, on a day when Australia's other batters struggled against England's dominant quicks in dark, damp weather.
A maiden five-wicket Test haul for England's new fast bowling sensation Jofra Archer (6-45) overshadowed a couple of immaculate spells from his new-ball partner Stuart Broad (2-32 from 14 overs) and meant the host's decision to bowl first was vindicated.
The frustrations that England skipper Joe Root showed at the regular rain and bad-light interruptions that dogged the first two sessions would have been salved by completing the demolition of Australia's lower-order, bowled out for 179.
Australia's last eight wickets fell for 43 runs, with only three players posting double figures.
It's a sobering position that would have been substantially worse if not for Labuschagne (74) and his century stand with David Warner (61) which proved a welcome return to form for the experienced opener.
Prior to the Test, Australia captain Tim Paine had foreshadowed that with Steve Smith absent due to the effects of delayed concussion, he expected "the very best David Warner" to help fill the void.
Certainly Warner endured the very best new-ball bowling in the most difficult conditions after Australia were sent into bat and tormented, once more, by England pair Broad and Archer.
His first Test opening union with Marcus Harris, one of three changes to Australia's XI from the second Test at Lord's, lasted only four overs and Warner would concede he was lucky to have lasted for much longer.
So dominant was Broad, targeting the left-hander from around the wicket that Warner played and missed more times in the first four overs he faced than he'd scored runs in the first two Tests of the series.
But in line with the challenge that his skipper had set him, Warner refused to be shaken by the regularity of false strokes that Broad and Archer induced, and instead gritted his teeth and hung in.
Slowly, amid the regular rain breaks and another interruption for poor light, Warner began to find his feet and then his timing as he and Labuschagne wrested the initiative from England.
For the second time in as many innings, having been thrown into the final day of the second Test as the game's first concussion substitute, Labuschagne top scored for his team.
In doing so, he overcame some of the most impressive swing bowling in recent times from Broad and Archer and personal pain when he struck an eye-watering blow amidships when on 52.
For almost an hour, immediately after tea, Australia made hay while the sun (almost) shone and England's first-change bowlers rarely threatened, and Warner and Labuschagne rattled on 82 runs from less than 14 overs.
But that changed dramatically with Warner's dismissal.
While Labuschagne survived, wickets tumbled regularly around him, and has made it difficult for Australia's selectors to consider omitting him if – as expected – Smith is passed fit for the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
And it was his 111-run third-wicket stand with Warner that glowed like a beacon on what was an otherwise grim day for Australia's batting in conditions tailor-made for seam and swing bowling.
Warner reached his first Test half century in almost 18 months arrived from 79 balls faced, which belied the battle he had fought against England's quicks and his own frustration earlier in the day.
However, when the former vice-captain finally edged one of those deliveries angled into him that veered slightly away, Australia found themselves undergoing the sort of middle-order batting collapse that has characterised their recent England sojourns.
In the space of 15 deliveries, the tourists lost 3-3 due to some supreme bowling skill and a sizeable chunk of the luck that had eluded England's bowlers for much of the earlier sessions.
The ball that Broad sent down to remove Travis Head – it squared up the vice-captain and clipped the top of off-stump, a weapon that ex-England skipper Nasser Hussain pronounced "unplayable" – sent the bowler into paroxysms of delight.
The circumstances that saw Matthew Wade depart, also for a duck, represented the other extreme as the ball rebounded from the batter's thigh pad and on to his batting glove, and then on to the base of leg stump.
While Wade would furiously disagree, it was perhaps an overdue moment of fortune for England whose bowlers had 46 times got the ball past the bats of their Australia rivals without collecting a wicket for their efforts.
Labuschagne and Paine then forged an important 23-run stand for the sixth wicket as the clouds closed in again, until Paine was sent packing by the DRS technology after the on-field view of the lbw appeal against him was turned down.
Labuschagne then literally fell in an even more bizarre manner, finishing flat on his face after failing to pick a Ben Stokes full toss that left the Queenslander speculatively reviewing and palpably displeased.
The pre-game view of the Headingley pitch was that it was decidedly dry and that batting upon it would likely become increasingly difficult as the Test wore on.
Unless, of course, the game began in the sort of damp, dark overhead conditions that are Yorkshire's calling card and which makes negotiating seam bowling in Leeds about as difficult as achieving a suntan.
As a result, Paine claimed he was happy to have lost the toss because it meant it spared him the torment of having to choose whether to bat or bowl first.
Paine indicated he would have chosen to bat if given that option, nominating spinner Nathan Lyon to be influential in the game's latter days but his rival skipper Joe Root felt similarly compelled to unleash his rampant quicks.
So grim was the Leeds weather that no sooner had the coin landed and the teams confirmed – Australia including Harris, Labuschagne and James Pattinson for Cameron Bancroft, Smith and Peter Siddle – than rain set in and delayed the first ball by 70 minutes.
When play did begin, with more rain as inevitable as jokes about Yorkshire's weather, it became immediately obvious that batting would be as near to impossible as cricket can conjure.
Unlike in his earlier unions with Bancroft, Warner chose to face the first ball and thereby put himself squarely in the firing line of Broad who had caused him no end of suffering in the Ashes series to date.
That then was not only maintained, but intensified as Broad swung the ball disconcertingly and beat Warner's usually bludgeoning bat five times in the course of 12 consecutive deliveries.
At the other end, Harris returned to Test cricket and straight into the firing line from Archer who was greeted by a voluminous roar from the Headingley crowd the moment he removed his cap to confirm he would share the new ball.
While not as demonstrably fast or nakedly hostile as he showed during his stunning debut at Lord's, Archer remained every bit as potent as Harris battled to rediscover the rhythm of Test cricket.
He survived the first 11 balls but not the twelfth, which was angled into the left-hander by Archer bowling around the wicket and straightened sufficiently to graze the edge of Harris's perfectly perpendicular bat.
Had he survived that ball, Harris would have been afforded the chance to regroup in the dressing room as drizzling rain arrived the moment the catch had nestled into the gloves of England keeper Jonny Bairstow.
That granted Usman Khawaja a 90-minute interval, including a lunch break, to contemplate what might await him when the weather broke sufficiently for him to venture to the middle.
The rain had stopped, but it was no brighter as Broad resumed his tussle with Warner and also whizzed a few past the bat of Khawaja whose struggles in the UK continued under Headingley's dark clouds and glaring floodlights.
As has been the case previously in this Ashes contest, Khawaja appeared as comfortable as anyone even when he was reduced to playing and missing.
But having doubled his score (to eight) with a controlled outside edge that scooted to third man, Khawaja was undone by one of Broad's few deliveries to spear down the leg side.
The noise that accompanied that flurry of bat and pad as the short ball flew to Bairstow's right did not yield a response from umpire Chris Gaffaney, but England's canny review confirmed it had clipped willow.
Having been cast in the daunting role of Smith's replacement, in the previous match as well as the present, Labuschagne found himself entering a situation that would challenge even the ex-skipper's undoubted brilliance.
With the scoreboard glowing 2-25, the ball not nine overs old, and heavy low cloud continuing to enshroud the stadium, Labuschagne stood firm for almost half an hour – without scoring a run – until the next rain event arrived.
For a further 55 minutes the game was held hostage by England's northern summer, and when it escaped the rain it fell victim to the decreasingly acceptable natural light.
As the cricket-starved Leeds crowd grew restless, the players left the field as match officials employed light meters to take a baseline reading of the ambient conditions which will remain the benchmark for the remainder of the Test.
Australia XI: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.
England XI: Jason Roy, Rory Burns, Joe Root (c), Joe Denly, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Jack Leach
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval