Swann Benefits From Australia Capitulation
England 361 & 31-3 (Siddle 3-4) v
Australia 128 (Swann 5-44)
Second Ashes Test, Lord’s, day two
A day that many had expected to be something of a run-fest on a still-flat Lord’s pitch, and under the baking sun, turned out to be one for the bowlers as Australia capitulated for a pitiful 128, to a flurry of rash strokes, with Peter Siddle then taking three wickets late on to keep their Ashes hopes just about alive.
The first session of the day showed few glimpses of what was to come and went largely as predicted. Tim Bresnan succumbed to the first ball of the day to set Ryan Harris on his way to a place on the Lord’s honours board. He completed the feat a little later when night-watchman James Anderson was caught behind the ball after giving a half chance to Shane Watson at first slip.
Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann then went some way towards justifying the decision to grant them the protection of a night-watchman yesterday evening by adding 48 in a typically carefree last-wicket stand. Broad hit the only six of the match thus far when he narrowly evaded the fielder on the mid-wicket boundary, with his fun ended soon afterwards by James Pattinson when on 33 off only 29 balls.
Australia’s openers then progressed fairly serenely for a time and it looked as though they might reach the luncheon interval unscathed. However, Watson was struck on the pads by Bresnan just before the break and, perhaps suffering from the effects of the midday sun, called for the review. That decision was to prove costly later on, the replay showing the LBW decision to be about as plumb as it is possible to get.
Chris Rogers was the man who was hurt most Watson’s optimism. He was given out LBW to a slow, looping full-toss from Graeme Swann, and selflessly didn’t opt for the review, even though he would have been reprieved due to the ball missing leg-stump.
Phil Hughes used up the second of the tourists’ reviews when he was given out caught off a wild slash off Bresnan. Replays proved inconclusive with Hot Spot proving to be particularly useless, not for the first time, so the decision stayed with the on-field umpire.
If Australia’s first three dismissals had all provided talking points related to the DRS, then the remainder would ensure that focus was rightly shifted to their woeful shot selection. Usman Khawaja had already been dropped but was unperturbed and went for another reckless swat off Swann that found Kevin Pietersen at mid-on. Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris perished in a similar fashion; the latter giving Swann a fifth wicket despite him again being not quite at his best.
The wicket of Steve Smith will probably be the one that gave Swann the most satisfaction. Smith was caught low down by Ian Bell at short-leg as the ball bounced enough to catch the glove. To complete Australia’s comedy of errors, there was also a farcical run-out. Ashton Agar and Brad Haddin were involved in a mix-up mid-pitch, with the former left stranded short of his ground as James Anderson whipped off the bails. Coach Darren Lehmann could barely suppress a wry grin.
If the mark of a good bowler is delivering even when you are below your best then Swann had certainly passed it. He walked off holding the ball aloft and had given his side a surely decisive 233-run first innings advantage.
Peter Siddle, though, kept Australian hopes alive. In an inspired spell of seam bowling that possessed the three virtues of enough hostility, enough movement and impeccable accuracy, he removed three of England’s top-order within five overs. Coming into the attack as first change following Michael Clarke’s interesting decision to open the bowling with his sometime feuding partner Shane Watson, Siddle took three wickets at a cost of four runs.
Alastair Cook was first to go as Siddle was rewarded for an immaculate line by the England captain dragging onto his stumps. Jonathan Trott fell in a similar fashion, in two minds as to whether to play or leave, while Kevin Pietersen looked all at sea against the out-swingers and eventually drove loosely to cover.
England then surprised with their second night-watchman decision of the match by sending in Tim Bresnan ahead of both Ian Bell and regular twilight blocker Anderson. He survived along with Joe Root, who had earlier benefited from a piece of miscommunication between Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin behind the stumps, each leaving the ball for the other to catch only to watch it harmlessly to the boundary.
England will most certainly be the happier of the two sides at stumps, but following Peter Siddle’s late burst it would be foolish to write off an Australian fightback in what has been a scarily unpredictable Ashes series to date.
© Cricket World 2013