Fourth Test, Headingly 7th August – 11th August 2009
Phew, here we go again it feels like there’s been no respite this summer. No wonder Freddie is knackered and the early breaking news today was that he would be ruled out and indeed that was confirmed at around 9.30am.
There was another injury scare during the warm up when Matt Prior was thought to have done himself a mischief playing football, but after panic and chaos and requests to delay the toss and wicketkeepers up and down the country frantically checking their phones, Prior was passed fit to play. It was some morning for England which had been going on for some time after being evacuated from their team hotel due to a fire alarm at 5am. News at the toss was that Harmison was in for Flintoff, for Australia Stuart Clark replaced Nathan Hauritz, Strauss won and chose to bat.
And what a mistake that was! Were it not for Billy Bowden, Strauss would have been out first ball to an inswinger which was cleaning out middle stump but not out was the reply. The Australians weren’t made to pay for the let off though as Strauss walking back to changing room in the 4th over, Marcus North holding onto a screamer in the slips one handed high above his head. England 11-1 and the skipper gone for 3 with Bopara in next and in desperate need of a score. He lasted all of 6 balls before trying to drive a lifting ball and putting it straight into the hands of gully. Shocking shot and if he is still in the team come the Oval it will be a minor miracle. Shane Warne said before the series started that he wasn’t up to it and yet again the master was right. 16-2 and Bopara out for 1. Ian Bell next.
He made all of 8 before Johnson bounced him out and England were 39-3. His replacement at the crease Paul Collingwood didn’t manage to trouble the scorers lasting 5 balls for nought, edging to Ponting at 2nd slip off the bowling of Clark meaning each of Australia’s seamers now had one wicket and England were reeling at 42-4.
42-4 became 63-5 when Cook, having watched the carnage unfold whilst compiling 30 became Stuart Clark’s second wicket edging to Clarke at 1st slip. All sorts of bother now with the last recognised batsman prior already in meaning Stuart Broad, batting a place higher than normal due to Flintoff’s absence, was on his way to the middle in the 23rd over of the day. Jesus wept, 67-5 and 8 minutes to lunch. But that was at least one minute too many as in the 25th over with 2 balls to the break Broad clipped Clark to Katich at short square leg for 3, England 72-6 at the break.
And Swann made only a flying visit to the crease lasting 15 balls for the second duck of the innings. 92-7 Harmison came to bat next, at least a day and half earlier than he or anyone connected with England would have liked but he didn’t hang around either going for duck number 3 of the innings tickling a Siddle delivery down the leg side to Haddin. Blimey. James Anderson was in next having not had a duck in 52 Test innings and that became 53 but he was out for 1 fending a Siddle delivery off his face which left Onions as the last man and he was out first ball gloving, or forearming anyway, another brute of a bouncer from Siddle. 5 wickets for Siddle and England all out by half past 2 in the afternoon for 102. That they got more than 100 was down to Cook and Prior who both had 30s and extras contributed 17. Nobody else got into double figures and in fact only one other batsman scored more than 3. A truly marvellous effort!
In response, Australia raced to 69-1 at tea off the 15 overs which were bowled. Katich fell 0 early to Harmison but Watson, who cut the first ball of the innings for 4 and repeated the dose 2nd ball a la Michael Slater, and Ponting looked totally untroubled.
Both batsmen continued the carnage after the interval with Ponting reaching 50 off 63 balls in the 20th over. In the 28th over England got their next man, Watson plumb LBW to Onions having registered his third 50 in as many innings as a Test Match opener. Out for 51 and Australia 133-2.
That became 140-3 off the final ball of the next over, Ponting also LBW this time to young Broad for 78. I’d backed him for a hundred to silence the booers so he owes me 10 quid. Top runscorer and VC Clarke in next. Hussey followed soon after Clarke’s arrival giving England some hope at 151-4. Huss finding his worse form again to go for 10 of 10 balls.
Clarke and North saw the rest of the day out to leave the Aussies 196-4 at stumps, giving them a lead of 94 after a remarkable first day. I’ve managed to bag a last minute ticket for the play tomorrow and will be sitting with the loons in the Western Terrace so will be back hungover to report on Sunday’s play. Salva will see you through Saturday.
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