Joe Denly falls short of century but shows Nathan Lyon who's the daddy as he looks to book New Zealand spot
Joe Denly missed out on a daddy hundred but will have the consolation of being able to tell wife Stacy not to expect too much domestic help this winter.
Denly 33, whose second child was born on Thursday night, came within six runs of becoming the oldest player to hit a maiden century for England since Clive Radley opened his account two months shy of his 34th birthday in New Zealand in 1978.
His mid-match 65-mile dash to Herne Bay in Kent to witness the birth of his daughter was followed by his most authoritative innings in an England shirt yet, and one that will confirm that he has an international future beyond this summer.
Joe Denly 33, whose second child was born on Thursday night, was six runs short of a century
Halfway through the six home Tests of 2019 that prospect appeared to be in some doubt but his form has improved since then.
This was the third consecutive match in which he has registered a half-century and he implemented the team plan to attack Nathan Lyon early — the sign of a man not worried about his place.
When he deposited a four and a six straight down the ground from the last two deliveries of the off-spinner’s opening over, it was arguably the first time in the series that England had met Australia’s holding bowler with the aggression they intended.
It was also a sign that the Kent batsman, promoted to open for the final two matches of this Ashes series, was intent on making the most of the life afforded him on Friday evening when, on nought, he was spilled in the gully by Marcus Harris — a miss that left Australia’s opening batsman nursing seven stitches in a hand wound and consigned to the dressing room on day three.
Denly was also handed a second life shortly after bringing up his 127-ball 50 when Tim Paine yet again made a mess of a review.
Despite orchestrating a huge appeal for lbw off the bowling of first-innings hero Mitchell Marsh, Paine declined the opportunity to review Marais Erasmus’s not out call, leaving Australia coach Justin Langer visibly frustrated when TV replays showed the delivery would have crashed into leg stump.
He implemented the team plan to attack Nathan Lyon early — the sign of a man not worried
Denly finally departed from a nick to slip during a spell of reverse swing bowling from Peter Siddle but not before guaranteeing himself a spot on England’s two-Test tour of New Zealand, the squad for which is to be announced later this month.
Having initially been Ed Smith’s man in terms of selection 12 months ago, Denly’s retention for a second consecutive winter would fit in with captain Joe Root’s desire for top-order stability as England begin the post-Trevor Bayliss era.
After the close of play Denly said: ‘I don’t think I am in a position to demand where I want to bat. To be playing for England is a privilege, certainly at my age. I didn’t think I would be here a couple of years ago.
‘To get the opportunity to open the batting for England is very special and if that opportunity presents itself again in the future I will be more than happy to do it.’
The uncapped Dominic Sibley, of Warwickshire, named as England’s batting concussion sub for this series, is also likely to travel to New Zealand in late November to provide competition for the top three places. Ollie Pope could edge ahead of Surrey team-mate Jason Roy in the selection equation.