Pinch yourself, blink in disbelief, Steve Smith really was on his way back to the dressing-room.
Smith was dismissed for a paltry 80, his lowest score of the series. What a flop!
The old newspaper billboards used to proclaim ‘HE’S OUT’ when the legendary Don Bradman was dismissed back in the 1930s.
No names were necessary, no explanation required. And, such is the remarkable nature of his batting this summer, England will feel removing Smith for 80 is a triumph.
Chris Woakes was the bowler, nailing Smith lbw with the first delivery of a new spell. Yes, Smith did miss a straight ball.
But it was Jofra Archer and Sam Curran who did most to place England in control of the Fifth Test.
After their erratic batting at the Oval on day one, England came roaring back with an impressive performance with the ball.
Archer recaptured the pace and aggression he appeared to misplace in Manchester and finished with 6-62.
He is emerging as a truly special talent. Remember, his England career is less than five months old but he has become Joe Root’s go-to bowler.
Curran, playing his first match of the series, caused problems with his left-arm swing and was on a hat-trick after dismissing Tim Paine and Pat Cummings with successive deliveries. His figures were 3-46 on his home ground..
By the close of day two, England were 9-0 in their second innings with an overall lead of 78 runs.
Rory Burns and Joe Denly survived a late four-over bombardment but not without anxiety. Burns was hit on the grille by Cummins and was given out to the final ball of the day, but a review confirmed Josh Hazlewood’s delivery had pitched outside leg stump.
New dad Joe Denly was dropped on nought in the gully by Marcus Harris off Hazlewood.
From here, England will fancy their chances of levelling the series at 2-2 and providing a smile at the end of a long summer.
If England win here, it will be the first drawn Ashes series since 1972.
England’s total of 294 was disappointing because they had been 170-3 at one stage on a decent pitch. But they soon made inroads into Australia’s fragile top-order.
David Warner’s wretched form continued as a faint edge showed on DRS as he tried to cut a ball from Archer. He became the first opener in history to be dismissed for eight single-figure scores in the same series.
Harris was squared up by Archer and edged to second slip, where Ben Stokes dived forward and shoved his hands under the ball.
Incredibly, Australia’s best opening stand of the series is the 13 put on by Warner and Cameron Bancroft in the First Test at Edgbaston.
Marnus Labuschagne helped Smith add 69 for the third wicket until he was leg before to Archer shuffling across his stumps.
Matthew Wade was trapped in front by Curran and Mitch Marsh flicked Archer to fine leg, where Jack Leach did not have to move to hold the catch.
All the while, Smith was moving along, perhaps not quite as flawlessly as in previous innings but still with few alarms.
He reached his tenth straight Ashes half-century - another record-breaking feat - by hitting Leach for six over wide long-on. Smith actually offered a chance on 66 when he uppercut Curran but Root could not hold on at first slip as he leapt high to his right.
Curran’s two-in-two arrived in the 54th over and No.9 Peter Siddle managed to squirt the hat-trick ball through the slips for four.
Then Smith was struck on the pad by a ball that would have crashed into leg stump.
Smith now has 751 runs in the series for six times out. Of the previous five, he was ‘got out’ perhaps only once with the other four being two slogs and a reverse sweep in pursuit of quick runs and his concussion-induced lbw leave at Lord’s.
His addiction to runs has put him firmly on the road to cricket immortality. He is a remarkable accumulator of monumental totals fired by a weird technique, astonishing hand-eye co-ordination and an obsessive personality.
Siddle and Nathan Lyon whacked a few during a ninth-wicket stand of 37 before Archer took his haul to six wickets.
At the start of the day, Jos Buttler and Leach both played on as England went from 271-8 overnight to 294 all out. Marsh completed his first five-wicket haul in his 32nd Test match.