Joe Denly: 'We are in a great position going into day four; the past few days have been incredible'Â
In a rare day of English dominance with the bat, Joe Denly (94) and Ben Stokes (67) put on 127 runs together to steer England to a 382-run lead by the close of play on day three of the final Ashes Test. Denly surpassed his previous highest Test score of 69 after lunch, during an afternoon session which saw the duo put on 105 runs together at a healthy strike rate of 3.5 runs per over.Â
"It was good. It was obviously nice to get that score," Denly told BBCâ€™sÂ Test Match SpecialÂ at stumps. "Disappointing to not to get to the milestone, but we are in a great position going into day four and that is the most important thing. Hopefully we can make the most of it tomorrow."
"I was just thinking about occupying the crease and if I did that then scoring opportunities would come and England would be in a good position. Thankfully we are in a good position."
Having started the morning with nine runs for no wicket, the hosts lost both Rory Burns and Joe Root in their early twenties before Denly and Stokesâ€™ partnership, which was only Englandâ€™s third century partnership of this series.Â
"Ben has been in sublime form and it is always nice batting with him," said Denly of Stokes, who behind Steve Smithâ€™s mammoth 751 runs, has the next highest of this series, with 441. The Durham all-rounder also finishes the Ashes with Englandâ€™s highest average in the second innings of each match, of 128.50.Â
"It is always nice to build a good partnership, their bowlers got a bit weary, itâ€™s been a long series for them and that was the key, it was trying to keep them out there. We knew opportunities to score would come. We are in a good position going into day four."
"I think [we have got a good chance of winning]," continued the Kent and England all-rounder. "Weâ€™ll have to get Steve Smith out first. But hopefully the pitch will start to take a bit of turn, thereâ€™s a bit of inconsistent bounce as well and they got it reversing, too. So that might be a really important thing for us tomorrow."
It has been an eventful few days for Denly, who returned to Kent overnight after the close of play on Thursday to be present for the birth of his second child, only returning to the field well into the afternoon session on Friday.Â
"It has been incredible," revealed Denly, trying to describe the preceding 48 hours. "It would have been even more amazing if I had managed to get to that hundred mark, but yes, over the moon. It has been very special. It was amazing being able to be there at the birth. I missed the first birth -Â of my son -Â by about five minutes, so it was great to be there."
Denly, who has implied that he and his wife are not intending to have any more children, also managed to draw a smile after being hit in the box by Pat Cummins. "Nasty bunch arenâ€™t they?" joked Denly. "They had to run out Rory Burnsâ€™ [box] to me and he has two taped together, so I might have to go down that route as well.â€