Ashes 3rd Test, England vs Australia Day 2

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Australia 263 (Watson 62; Anderson 5-80; Onions 4-58)
England 116/2 (Strauss 64*)
james-andersonAndersen and Onions swing the balance in England’s favour as they look to compile a solid reply to Australia’s below par 263.

Day one, all 30 overs of it, belonged to Australia and they began day two on 126-1, with Shane Watson in his new role on 62 and Ricky Ponting on 17, just 8 shy of Allan Border’s all time Australian run record. With more rain forecast for the weekend today would be crucial in deciding how this test would finish.

First ball! Graeme Onions first ball of the day caught Watson sleeping as it nipped back, he was late on it and it cannoned into his pads, plum LBW. 62 from 106 balls, great effort yesterday but no more from him today. Hussey out to join his skipper, and he goes first ball!! Two in two balls from Onions what a start!! Clean bowled leaving a straight ball. Stupid boy, as Captain Mainwaring would say. Wow. Vice captain and Lord’s centurion in next and just about survived the hat trick ball, he did his best to glove it through to Prior chasing a bouncer.

Phew. First ball of the 4th over of the day, once things had just about calmed down, Ponting reached 25 with a flick past short leg for 2, and thus moved ahead of Allan Border to 11,175 Test runs. A great moment for him, the record brought up in 22 matched fewer than AB, and leaving Ponting behind only Lara and Tendulkar in the all time list. Some player.

But no match for Onions today! After a not entirely convincing 38, Onions bagged the captain. A quick bouncer which Ponting hooked but only succeeded in top edging it through to Prior. Marcus North next through the revolving dressing room door. He made it through to drinks with Clarke and after the first hour England, in particular Onions, had had taken 3-42 from the 12 overs bowled.

A dropped catch from Flintoff at 2nd slip in the 17th over denied Onions his 4th wicket of the morning and gave Clarke a huge let off. Very straight forward chance, Flintoff like Watson earlier was asleep, and how costly would that be?

Ten runs was the answer to that, Anderson replaced Onions after the drop and didn’t’ waste much time at all in getting the ball to swing and trapped Clarke in front with a big in ducker. Clarke gone for 29 and the debutant Manou came in with Australia 193-5. Hawkeye suggested the ball had done too much and would have carried on down and missed leg stump.

Six down with ten minutes to go until lunch, 5 wickets for England this morning for the addition of less than 8 runs. Marcus North this time the victim of a fantastic catch from Prior. Thick outside edge from an Anderson away swinger, and Prior had to dive across in front of first slip to take it. Australia 202-6 with 250 looking a long way off and as I was writing Johnson came and went for the second Golden Duck of Australia’s innings. LBW Anderson and now it was his turn to bowl a hat trick ball. Hauritz to face it, and he survived.

Two balls before the lunch break, Manou was cleaned up by a beauty from Anderson. Off stump pegged back, bowled from wider the ball straightened and the Aussies were reeling. 203-8 and four for Anderson.

Peter Siddle was the new batsman after lunch, and after half an hour he became Anderson’s 5th wicket of the innings outside edging to Prior for 13. 229-9. Some late order biffing from Hilfenhaus and Hauritz, who each finished on 20, and a dropped dolly by Bopara, got Australia up beyond 250 and on to 263 before Onions finished the innings with his 4th wicket, Hilfenhaus caught by Swann in the gulley.

In reply England got off to an equally poor start, losing Cook in the second over caught Manou bowled Siddle for nought. 2-1 and England’s daunting middle order were exposed. No further alarms though as Strauss and Bopara comfortably guided England through to tea where they were 56-1 with Strauss on 33 and Bopara on 23, both batsmen having faced 52 balls and hit 4 fours.

Bopara fell in just the second over after lunch, dragging a Hilfenhaus delivery back onto his stumps without adding to his 23. Not exactly displaying Test class number 3 ability in this series so far. Belly in next, England 60-2.

Bell spanks Hauritz for 6, Warne says “you have been sherminated”

Strauss punches a drive off the back foot to bring up his fifty. He looks in exquisite form. He has a 56.25% conversion rate of 50s to 100s as he eases another drive straight past mid on off Hilfenhaus. There is a certain aura about this display.

Bell given not out on 20 despite a plumb lbw shout from Mitchell Johnson. Rudi Coertzen’s itchy trigger finger slow death ritual is replaced by a quick shake of the head. A staggering decision, hawkeye shows the ball pitching straight in line, nipping back a tiny bit and probably hitting half way up middle peg. Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar eats you, in Mitchell Johnson’s case the bar keeps eating him when his mum isn’t sticking the knife in.

England offered the light at 116/2, despite their relative ease at the crease the offer is inevitably accepted. Then it starts to rain.  That will be the end of the day that certainly belonged to England.

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