Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
Meatloaf’s signature tune proved prophetic for England as they snared two of Australia’s big three by the close of Day 4. If rain doesn’t save Australia, the home side needed one of their three big guns to score a massive hundred to escape to Perth with a 0-0 scoreline. But first Graeme Swann ensured that Ricky Ponting wouldn’t repeat his brilliant 156 to save the Old Trafford Test of 2005, by inducing an edge to Paul Collingwood at slip. Then with the final ball of the day, Kevin Pietersen staked an unlikely claim as a golden arm with the wicket of Michael Clarke for a classy 80. Australia’s hopes now rest on rain and the last of their big three Michael Hussey – who continued his renaissance with an unbeaten 44.
Shades of Edgbaston 2005?
In that monumental Edgbaston Test of 2005, Steve Harmison looked to have secured victory for England with a majestic slower ball to get Clarke just before close on the fourth day. Pietersen isn’t in Harmison’s class as a bowler, but his ball to the Australian vice-captain was just as good turning sharply from outside off-stump to get an edge to Cook via Clarke’s thigh pad. He hung around like a condemned man for the review but Clarke, whose 103 not out got Australia out of a hole at Edgbaston in 2009, knew he was a goner.
And then there were three
The risk of playing just four frontline bowlers was highlighted with the stomach strain suffered by Stuart Broad – who had looked the best of the England seamers today. This means that Swann will bowl even more overs in this innings, but luckily for England he looks to have recovered from his Brisbane blip. Elsewhere James Anderson couldn’t repeat his inspirational new ball spell of day one and Steve Finn leaked too many boundaries in his first spell before bouncing back to get Watson and bowl much more impressively with the old ball.
Fifty and out
He may be a prize galah, but in every way but one Shane Watson has done surprisingly well as a Test match opener and averages over 50since coming in to replace Philip Hughes at the top of the order at Edgbaston in 2009. The one area where he has been found lacking though is in converting his frequent good starts into big scores – he has reached 50 14 times as an opener but only got to three figures twice. Maybe with Watson you can take the boy out of the lower middle order, but not the lower middle order out of the boy.
Records and more records for England
England added 69 quick runs in the morning and more records came: Kevin Pietersen’s highest Test score of 227, four hundred partnerships in an innings for the first time for England since The Oval in 1938 and England’s second highest score ever in tests in Australia. Four players: Pietersen (135), Cook (225), Trott (121) and Bell – who looked sublime again – (144) now average over 100 in the series. But the only statistic that really counts is making it 1-0 in the series come tomorrow.
From elation to deflation
We’re guessing that Peter Siddle is no great fan of the UDRS. After having had a caught behind decision for Cook overruled on appeal on Saturday, he was denied even the consolation prize of Prior, when a plumb looking leg before decision was again overturned. After the high of six wickets and a hat-trick in the 1st innings at Brisbane, the willing Siddle now has 0/211 from his last 54 overs. Talk about the highs and lows of Test cricket.
Player of the day
Until the last ball of the day, it was going to be Michael Clarke. He was under immense pressure when he came to the crease after a dreadful run of low scores, but he played a positive knock and used his feet well to Swann. But his departure to KP means we have to go with the aforementioned Graeme Swann – who got the breakthrough wicket of Katich and then the key prize of Ponting. It could be his day tomorrow too.
Zero of the day
There was no obvious choice on day four, but with much expected of Ricky Ponting, it must have been demoralising for him and for the dressing room when he fell to Swann for only 9.
What happens next?
Putting the weather aside for one minute – and let’s hope that someone in the England camp is on first name terms with the raingods – what happens with the new ball tomorrow morning holds the key to this Test match. If England get a couple of wickets early on, it could be all over by lunch. But if Hussey can marshall a rearguard with North and/or Brad Haddin, who knows?
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