Questions have been asked over the health of Australian paceman Josh Hazlewood after he was not used at all in the final session of Day 3 as England launched a spirited comeback.
The tourists finished the day on 2-220 after a mammoth partnership between skipper Joe Root and Dawid Malan took the life out of Australia’s bowling attack, with the home side’s lead down to just 58 runs at stumps.
Australian captain Pat Cummins brought himself and Hazlewood on immediately when Root first strode to the wicket with England trailing by 217 runs, hoping Hazlewood could dismiss the England star as he did in the first innings.
AS IT HAPPENED: Root and Malan drag England back into first Test
However, after an initial spell at Root, Hazlewood would not be seen for the remainder of the day as Root and Malan gradually ate into Australia’s 278-run lead after the two teams’ first innings.
Hazlewood ended Day 3 having bowled just eight overs in England’s second innings, only one more than all-rounder Cameron Green, while Cummins and Mitchell Starc bowled 14 overs each.
Despite never approaching the bowling crease in the final session, Hazlewood remained in the field for Australia throughout the post-tea session.
As Root and Malan’s 159-run partnership continued to build, Hazlewood’s absence became more and more curious.
While it remains unclear whether Hazlewood is injured or not, his absence would be a major blow given he has dismissed Root more than any other bowler in Test cricket, having done so on eight occasions.
England’s fightback also bore an eerie resemblance to the Ashes opener in 2010 where the tourists overcame a monster first-innings deficit to salvage a draw before winning the series.
On that occasion, Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott all reached triple figures as England piled on a remarkable 1-517 after beginning its second innings 221 runs behind Australia.
Root will resume Day 3 on 86 not out in search of his first century on Australian soil, while Malan will join him on 80 not out, hoping to score his second Ashes century in Australia after his 140 in Perth during the 2017-18 series.