The Australians enjoyed another solid day at Taunton and ought to wrap up victory over Somerset some time tomorrow afternoon. They closed day three on 36 without loss after being set a testing 260 for victory.
The day began with the tourists still in their first innings on 266 for four and they soon lost vice-captain Brad Haddin to Jamie Overton without adding to the overnight score. However, Phil Hughes did his prospects of a place in the middle-order for the first Test no harm by reaching 76 before Michael Clarke called his men in immediately after they had passed Somerset’s 320.
Somerset then began well in their second innings but a collapse of four for three would stall their progress shortly after tea. Openers Marcus Trescothick and Nick Compton added 68 against a changed new ball attack which saw Peter Siddle and James Faulkner given a go with the new Dukes ball ahead of James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc.
It was Pattinson, though, who made the initial breakthrough. He had Trescothick caught behind and first innings centurion Chris Jones leg-before for one. Compton was then adjudged leg-before to off-spinner Nathan Lyon to cut short his innings at 34.
James Hildreth was the thorn in the Australians’ side for much of the afternoon. The 28 year-old, who is so often inexplicably overlooked when the make-up of England’s middle-order is discussed, hit his second fluent half-century of the match. However, also for the second time in the match, he fell towards the beginning of a batting collapse.
The home side’s capitulation was nowhere near as severe as their one of eight for 16 on day one, and was arrested to some degree by a last-wicket stand of 54 that was dominated by Peter Trego. The all-rounder, another man unlucky not to have won England recognition, hit a typically brutal counter-attacking 60 off 53 balls and hauled his side up to 260 to leave the tourists a potentially tricky final day run chase.
Nathan Lyon was again impressive for Australia and returned figures of three for 73 to go with his accurate performance in the first innings. Starc, meanwhile ended with two wickets and was partly responsible for the mini-collapse, while Pattinson ended with three. Siddle and Faulkner were again slightly disappointing, albeit much-improved from their first innings performance. All of which means that new coach Darren Lehmann will be quietly pleased with the direction his side are heading in.
© Cricket World 2013