Saturday 8 August 2009 

Ashes 2009: North Hits Century As Australia Eye Win

Ashes 2009: North Hits Century As Australia Eye Win
Ashes 2009: North Century Powers Australia Clear
© Action Images / Lee Smith Livepic
 
Ashes 2009: North Hits Century As Australia Eye Win
Ashes 2009: Another Session Goes To Australia
© REUTERS/Philip Brown (BRITAIN SPORT CRICKET) Picture Supplied by Action Images
 

England 102 & 82-5 (Johnson 3-21, Hilfenhaus 2-37)
Australia 445 (North 110, Clarke 93, Ponting 78)

Fourth Ashes Test, Headingley, day two: stumps

Australia continued to dominate proceedings at Headingley, where they closed day two of the fourth Ashes Test match with England on 82 for five having been bowled out themselves for 445.

Marcus North and Michael Clarke led Australia's charge with innings 110 and 93 respectively to pile on the misery for England, who were bowled out for 102 on day one and by stumps they were in grave danger of crashing to a heavy innings defeat.

Clarke was dismissed in the last throes of the morning session when a Graham Onions yorker got through and hit him on the boot in front of the stumps, ending a partnership of 152, but North continued to reach his third Test century, the last man to fall when he skied Stuart Broad to James Anderson in the deep for 110.

England, already missing Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff through injury, and hampered by injuries during the match to Anderson and Paul Collingwood, did themselves few favours, offering plenty of run-scoring opportunities which the Australians tucked into with gusto.

After Clarke had reached a 15th Test century and passed 400 runs in the series, the bowlers were reduced to sending down the ball wide outside off stump in a bid to at least stop the runs coming.

Clarke had a willing ally in North and the pair clearly enjoy batting together - their century stand at Edgbaston saved the third Test - and here North was happy to play second fiddle to Clarke, grinding out his runs where Clarke was as flamboyant as his form in the series has been superb.

The workmanlike, dogged North completed his half-century shortly before lunch with a stroke that also brought up Australia's 300 and one run later, the 150 partnership between the pair was raised.

Clarke faced 138 balls and stroked 13 fours during his classy innings and in the afternoon session, North reaped the rewards of having left well early in his innings, moving towards a century in fine style and then past it by lofting Graeme Swann into the stands.

England fought back, Broad having Mitchell Johnson caught in the deep for 27 and Peter Siddle bowled for a golden duck but the counter-attack from Clark, who pulled Broad for two maximums in consecutive balls, left England in no doubt whose match it has been so far.

Broad picked up a five-wicket haul when Clark inside-edged onto his stumps having faced just 22 balls for his 32 and the wicket of North gave him career-best first-class figures of six for 91.

England actually made a good start to their second innings before they lost five wickets for 20 runs, going from 58 without loss to 78 for five in a devastating 30-minute spell.

Andrew Strauss's horror match continued when he was trapped in front by a Hilfenhaus inswinger for 32 and one ball later Bopara was unlucky to also be adjudged trapped in front to the same bowler despite an inside edge.

Bell (3) then edged Johnson to Ricky Ponting at second slip for three and the flurry of wickets continued when Collingwood (4) shuffled across his crease and was trapped in front by another inswinger, this time coming from Johnson.

Alastair Cook matched his first innings score of 30 before he feathered an edge to Brad Haddin as Johnson's brilliant spell continued with one more wicket. Nightwatchman Anderson probably shouldn't have taken the single expose Cook, but either way, five wickets down gives Australia the chance to wrap up an astonishing win.

It should have been worse for England but a loose drive that flew to North at slip was put down, the only thing he did wrong all day, from the very last ball of the day.

Prior survived on four with James Anderson yet to score.

Siddle picked up his second five-wicket haul in Tests and Stuart Clarke grabbed three wickets as England, who won the toss and chose to bat, lasted less than 34 overs on the opening day.

© Cricket World 2009