Denly, who joined wife Stacy for the birth of their second child after play on Thursday night, would have loved to mark a memorable week with a maiden century but, as consolation prizes go, his knock at The Oval will take some beating.
Betraying no signs of sleeplessness the 33-year-old not only made a strong case for his international career to continue this winter – far from a done deal when he walked to the crease – but also played a decisive role in England's 382-run lead at stumps.
In piling up 313 for eight at stumps, Ben Stokes (67) and Jos Buttler (47) with the key supporting roles, the home side made themselves heavy favourites to make it 2-2 at some point over the next two days.
Tweet of the day
England began their second innings by recording the highest opening stand of the series. Denly and Burns combined to produce 54, beating the 27 they registered in the first innings on Thursday. Australia's highest opening partnership of a low-scoring series remains 13.
Hefty knocks for Denly
Denly posted 'Family complete!!' on Twitter after his wife Stacy gave birth to the couple's second child on Thursday evening. While the 33-year-old's tweet suggested he is content to stop at two offspring, he could have been forgiven for fearing the decision had been made for him. Having made 28, he was briefly floored by a thumping blow to the box from a pacey Pat Cummins delivery. Captain Joe Root was clearly amused by his partner's misfortune as he struggled to contain a smirk at the opposite end of the wicket. Denly regained composure to experience a more enjoyable knock.
There was an embarrassing moment for outgoing Sky Sports commentator David Gower when he was caught swearing live on air. Former England captain Gower, his country's fourth highest Test run-scorer, is calling his final match for the broadcaster after his contract was not renewed. With play set to resume after lunch, the 62-year-old was seemingly caught off guard as he uttered the words "haven't got a f****** clue" to surprised television viewers.
Paine-ful day for the tourists
Tim Paine's judgement again proved costly for his team. The Australia captain came into this match with 13 unsuccessful challenges in the field this series and suggested after the Headingley Test that he may relinquish responsibility for DRS reviews following repeated failures. That may have proved wise. Denly would have been out lbw on 54 had the tourists challenged the umpire's call of not out, while Buttler should later have walked for 19 in similar circumstances. Hawkeye showed that the respective deliveries of Mitchell Marsh and Nathan Lyon would have smashed the stumps under the nose of wicketkeeper Paine. Denly was free to rack up a further 40 runs, with Buttler adding 28 more to his score.
Quote of the day
Paine offered a prickly, sarcastic response when asked about his review calls.
Following the dismissal of Root, Australia were forced to endure a wicketless afternoon session as Stokes and Denly put on 127 for the third wicket. At times, the tourists seemed to struggle to contain their frustration, with tensions appearing to run high. There were strong suggestions that one member of the visiting team attempted to provoke Stokes with a reference to Bristol. All-rounder Stokes, who made 67, was found not guilty of affray following a late-night street brawl in Bristol in September 2017.
Catch of the day
Not content with starring with the bat, Steve Smith produced a stunning one-handed catch to dismiss Chris Woakes late in the day. The 30-year-old, who has registered 751 runs from six innings, sprung full stretch to his right to claim the ball after Woakes wildly thrashed at a ball from Marsh, prompting comparisons to Andrew Strauss' memorable catch at Trent Bridge in 2005. Marnus Labuschagne followed it up with another contender on the very next ball, steaming forward from deep square-leg and clinging on to a top edge from Buttler inches from the ground.
September 15: England v Australia, day four of the fifth Ashes Test, The Oval.