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From Amy Lofthouse
BBC Sport in The Oval
“It’s an easy game when there’s no pressure on, eh?”
They have been Steve Smith’s words to Joe Denly after the England opener had danced down and hit on Nathan Lyon back on his head .
The Ashes have been all gone, yes. But if Smith would like to believe it or not, Denly is under stress. Stress to prolong his Test career. Stress the winter tour to earn. And he’s had.
Denly smiled when asked about Smith’s comments following play. “He asked me when I’d had some sleep. It was pretty friendly banter,” was the answer.
At the conclusion of day , Denly drove 60 miles to get to Whitstable to be present for the daughter’s birth and left The Oval.
He stayed with his wife overnight, then drove back the round trip to London and from 6pm he was at the crease, facing a shiny red ball along with an Pat Cummins.
It’s not the first time – with 34, he completed a day’s play in 2016 to his own name, when he also received a telephone call from his wife.
“I had been in Derby, batting overnight and got a call about five in the morning,” Denly explained. “She said I think that the baby is on the way, but the midwife said do not rush, so I did not.
“I strolled down, had some breakfast, then hit rush hour traffic on the road back and missed the arrival by about 5 minutes”
Fortunately, Denly produced it the second time around. And there was a single, little benefit to being away from home -“I had a fantastic kip last night because I stayed in the resort and got about 10 hours. The preceding night I got about 3 hours.”
As Denly said, it’s been a”fairly special” few days. While he might rue those extra six runs that could have taken him to the decision, a maiden Test century and power he showed in building a Test-best 94 was admirable.
Denly missed played. Matthew Wade, who England may wish came installed with a button, then commentated. Denly was dropped in the gloom on Friday evening. He benefited from the dreadful use of the inspection system of Australia to prevent being given out lbw into Mitchell Marsh.
He’s had a series that is tricky. He and a handful of England players over the last couple of years have pogoed up and down the order and being requested to open against fast bowlers accurate and aggressive as Australia’s is simple ask.
But Denly grafted. His attack Lyon has been in moving your toes to throw a bowler away line a glorious show. He pay collapsed, he duckedhe weaved, until Peter Siddle found that the edge of his violin, and he had a bit of luck, up and Smith gratefully took that which was offered up.
The disappointment at the England group was evident. Captain Joe Root, watching on from the room, dropped his mind straight away, eyes. Ben Stokes, that shared a fine partnership at the day with Denly, concealed his face within his hands. Root gave a standing ovation to Denly as did the Oval audience as he left the field.
However, the innings of Denly was critical in leading Australia, assisting England reach 313-8 and putting them in prime position to draw this Ashes series 2-2.
Denly is an affable individual. He had been relaxed in the post-match news conference, displaying questions about Wade, describing him as”a very competitive player attempting to get the best for his team”, including he had heard”nothing too on the line”.
He , with a wry smile, confessed he believed that he was outside when Marsh caught him on the pad. However, Australia captain Tim Paine, who cut at a figure when talking to the media, opted not to critique it.
“I am going to perform some umpiring college once I get home,” was Paine’s sardonic response to a question about the inspection system.
“I’ll enrol in a degree three course and find out if I could get them right.”
Harry Maguire was his manager’s transfer priority and, the England defender is starting to show his worth after hammering while being jeered against former team Leicester.
Analysis and opinion from the cricket correspondent of the BBC.