England 238 (Cook 51, Lyon 4-42) v
Australia 222-5 (Rogers 101no)
Fourth Ashes Test, Chester-le-Street
It is Australia who will be the happier of the two sides at stumps on day two in Chester-le-Street. They recovered from a poor start in their first innings to close just 16 runs behind England on 222 for five.
Chris Rogers and Shane Watson were the tourists’ batting stars, adding 129 for the fifth-wicket as the latter’s move to number six reaped rewards. Watson fell not long before bad light brought a slightly premature end to proceedings, but the day belonged to Rogers.
He battled against a ferocious new-ball spell from Stuart Broad to bring up his maiden Test century in his fifth Test not far short of his 36th birthday, emphasising, ironically perhaps, the value of big runs in county cricket a la England’s axed opener Nick Compton.
England’s last-wicket pair had failed to add to their overnight score in the two overs that they faced in the morning. James Anderson was the man dismissed, bowled going for slog by Jackson Bird.
Broad then gave England the upper hand with a superb display of seam-bowling. For much of this match, while no means prodigious, there has been just enough movement to keep the seam bowlers interested and Broad utilised that to the max. He had both David Warner and Usman Khawaja in two minds over whether to play or leave around the off-stump. The former made a belated decision to play but was bowled, while Khawaja withdrew his bat a fraction late and feathered through to Matt Prior.
That made it 12 for two and it was then time for a moment of DRS confusion. It is amazing how often people who play the game for a living don’t know the, admittedly often overly-complicated, rules and that proved to be a problem on this occasion.
Rogers was given out caught behind but immediately reviewed and was proved right in his protestations of innocence as the ball was shown to have flicked pad rather than bat. However, third umpire Marais Erasmus was commendably alert to the possibility of an LBW and asked for HawkEye, which showed the ball to be clipping Roger’s off-stump, enough for the umpire’s call graphic to show. England thought that meant he was out, forgetting perhaps that the umpire’s call for the leg-before had actually been not out; a fact they were soon reminded of by Tony Hill.
They would, though, pick up their third wicket soon afterwards as Michael Clarke drove loosely at a full delivery from Broad to give him his third wicket. Rogers and Steve Smith then took Australia through until lunch, but Smith was out almost immediately upon the resumption, nicking Tim Bresnan through to Prior.
At 76 for four, Australia were in danger of conceding a first innings lead. However, Rogers and Watson combined for a crucial fifth-wicket stand. Both men were dropped, but they were difficult chances. Bresnan spurned a difficult caught and bowled offered by Watson, while Rogers was dropped by a diving Graeme Swann at second slip.
Indeed, Rogers certainly needed his fair share of luck to reach his maiden Test hundred. He played and missed repeatedly against a batch of unplayable outswingers from Broad, but will reckon to have earnt all of that luck by surviving, and eventually prospering, in conditions that have rarely been anything close to ideal for batting.
Watson undoubtedly benefited from the slight easing of the conditions by the time he came to the crease in the 23rd over and never really looked like being dismissed leg-before as he has been so often in this series. Nonetheless, it was a fine innings and he was quick to capitalise whenever England bowled too straight.
He was finally out, caught down the leg-side off Broad late in the day for 68, but by then had taken Australia into a good position. Rogers remained unbeaten on 101 and will be key to his side’s hopes of forging a meaningful lead tomorrow, with a second new ball due in less than six overs.
© Cricket World 2013