Ashes 2009: Clarke and North Defy England

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Australia 263 & 375-5 (Clarke 103no, North 96) drew with
England 376 (Flintoff 74, Strauss 69, Broad 55)

Third Test, Edgbaston, day five: stumps
By Peter Exley

England went into the final day of the third Ashes Test with hopes of an unlikely victory in their minds but the match ended up as a draw with Australia, riding on the back of a century partnership between Michael Clarke and Marcus North, batted out the day with some comfort.

With two wickets falling last night, England were looking to strike early on in day five, but that wasn’t to be. Shane Watson and Michael Hussey took Australia ahead of England’s score and Watson registered his second half century of the match. However he didn’t last long past this milestone when James Anderson produced a brilliant delivery to induce a thin edge from Watson (53) to keeper Matt Prior.

Hussey passed his highest Test score of the year so far as he followed Watson in making a half century. But Stuart Broad, a bowler who’s place in the England side is in jeopardy after a lacklustre performance with the ball, drew Hussey into a defensive push that he could only edge to Prior behind the stumps. With only a few minutes until the lunch interval to go, the settles Hussey (64) couldn’t have fallen at a worse time.

Michael Clarke was joined at the crease by Marcus North to take their side to lunch on 172 for four, however they will have to dig deep to save the game.

Australia came out after tea and began to grind out a big partnership to try to save themselves from a defeat. Clarke and North both recorded half centuries in the afternoon session as they finished at tea on 293 for four.

It could have been very different for England though, as Andrew Strauss brought on Ravi Bopara to try and buy a wicket. A long hop from Bopara was smashed at Strauss himself at short mid wicket, but the captain reacted late and only managed to parry the ball away to the ground.

The draw was looking very likely when both teams went to the tea break.

Clarke and North both continued in the same vein when the teams returned after tea, and both looked like notching up their centuries before the game was finished. The draw was coming closer and closer as England seemed to be going through the motions. There was just enough time for James Anderson to pull off a stunning one handed catch to dismiss Marcus North for 96 off Stuart Broad, but when Clarke registered his century, the teams settled for a draw with Australia 375 for five.

Both teams will now head to Leeds to prepare for the next match which begins on Friday, England remaining 1-0 up in the series.

© Cricket World 2009