Australia Strengthen Grip On Third Test
Australia 527-7d (Clarke 187) v
England 52-2 (Siddle 2-7)
Third Ashes Test, Old Trafford, day two
Australia successfully built on the advantage given to them by Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers and Steve Smith yesterday to close day two at Old Trafford in firm control of the third Ashes Test.
They finally declared on 527 for seven shortly after tea, with Peter Siddle then nipping out two England wickets just before stumps. The home side closed 475 runs behind on 52 for two.
England actually began well in reply to Australia’s mammoth total as Alastair Cook and Joe Root played cautiously during an opening stand of 47. Cook did by far the majority of the run-scoring, with Root virtually shotless, rather in the manner of his predecessor Nick Compton whose slow-scoring arguably played a role in his premature axing from the team.
Root, though, did look largely untroubled and left the ball well outside off-stump to the seamers. Eventually he was tempted into playing at a good length delivery from Peter Siddle and edged behind to give the tourists their first wicket.
Siddle was a late introduction into the attack and bowled as third change as Michael Clarke gave Nathan Lyon and Shane Watson a go ahead of him. He soon made up for lost time. England sent in Tim Bresnan as night-watchman for the second time in the series, obviously buoyed by his earlier success, but he was unable to last out the half hour that remained in the day, given out caught behind off Siddle and persuaded by captain Cook not to opt for the review that would have reprieved him.
Earlier in the day, wickets either side of lunch would have given England hope of dismissing Australia for less than 500, but Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc soon scotched those during an increasingly enterprising eighth-wicket stand of 97. Starc played with the freedom that the situation allowed and brought up a third Test fifty before finishing on 66, while Haddin was slightly more circumspect and ended not out on 65.
Clarke and Smith had extended their overnight fourth-wicket stand to 214 in the morning before Smith’s important, albeit slightly fortunate, innings came to an end courtesy of an ugly swat off Graeme Swann that found Jonny Bairstow at mid-wicket. That was Swann’s first over of the day and he would go on to finish with figures of five for 159 from 43.
His second was David Warner, who was accompanied to the crease by a cacophony of boos from the Manchester crowd. Warner didn’t last long and rather enhanced his reputation as someone who could do with thinking a little longer before making a decision by wasting Australia’s last review. He blatantly edged a ball to Jonathan Trott at slip via Matt Prior’s thigh but called for the review. HotSpot showed a clear mark on the bat and he was sent on his way as, for once, DRS worked as it is meant to.
Stuart Broad reached the landmark of 200 Test wickets a few overs later by ensuring that Clarke didn’t reach his own milestone of 200 runs for the innings by encouraging him to drag on. Swann then bowled new man Siddle when he had scored just one and Australia were suddenly 430 for seven. Starc and Haddin, though, made sure that there was no way back for England’s tired bowlers, four of whom conceded 100-plus runs for the innings, and cemented Australia's strong position in this Test match.
They must be favourites to win from here, despite the series scoreline and their disappointing results before that. Nathan Lyon looked mightily impressive in the 10 overs that he bowled, extracting appreciable turn on a consistent basis after being introduced into the attack early on by Clarke. How England play him tomorrow and the day after will be the key as to whether or not they can manage a draw and therefore retain the Ashes at the earliest opportunity.
© Cricket World 2013