A bit of luck, a lot of pluck, and this was England’s day
Where we stand
Four wickets fell, 246 runs were accrued, and the hosts now have a lead of 261, which might well be enough. The Aussies aren’t out of this match, but facing Graeme Swann in the last innings will be hard yakka.
The day will be remembered, unhappily, for Aleem Dar’s bizarre not out decision when Stuart Broad snicked to slip. As Julia Gillard might put it: Dar’s howler didn’t explain everything about Australia’s fate, and it didn’t explain nothing. Certainly it didn’t help that Brad Haddin dropped Ian Bell two balls later. Bell and Broad will resume their century stand on day four, seeking to bat Australia out of contention.
Quick Single: Gritty Bell eyes century
Australia’s bowling was disciplined and honest but lacked bite. Each of the four frontline bowlers took a wicket, but it was hard labour. The pick of the attack was Shane Watson who bowled with no luck but astonishing control. Watto didn’t concede a run from his first 33 balls, and at one point had figures of 13-11-3-0.
Bluffers' guide: "The first two days were fun, but at last we’ve got some real Test cricket. It’s the attritional stuff that sorts out the contenders from the pretenders."
Four things we learned
1. Don’t waste your DRS reviews. Clarke burned Australia’s last review on a crazy challenge in the 68th over, reviewing an lbw shout against Jonny Bairstow that was never close. This profligacy came back to hit Australia like a 20 kilogram boomerang when Broad was spared.
2. Poor fielding is poor cricket. Australia was enthusiastic in the field but there was some costly untidiness. Brad Haddin and Ed Cowan (once; arguably twice) dropped catches. Cowan, Agar and Phil Hughes had sloppy ground fielding errors. Improvement is required, pronto.
3. England can grind when necessary. Australia’s first innings of 280 came from 65 overs. After 65 overs in the home team’s second innings, they were 4-141. Cook made just one run from 22 balls in the first session, Bell made one run from 22 balls in the middle session. The land that produced Geoff Boycott and Chris Tavare still has batsmen who know the game-turning value of graft.
4. Commentator David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd is not afraid to share. Or overshare. The idiosyncratic Lanc felt viewers needed to know, “I didn’t wear a box. No need.” Later in the day he recalled having a perm in the 1970s: “I looked like one of them from Abba – and not one of the male ones, either.”
Hero of the day
Shane Warne derided him as the Sherminator, but in this Test he might be the Terminator. Often criticised for having enormous talent without the temperament to match, he made only one half-ton in his previous five Tests. Australia fans, of course, recall that his previous Ashes innings was a century in Sydney 30 months ago. This innings has not been flawless or his most attractive, but his unbeaten 95 might precipitate victory.
Moments that mattered
1. THE BELL-BROAD PARTNERSHIP. All day the match was poised close to fifty-fifty until the B-team staged an unbroken 108 run, 40 over stand.
2. AGAR’S FIRST WICKET. The man of the moment, with a Test batting average of 98, continued the fairytale by claiming the English captain for his first international scalp. Cook propped at a ball that didn’t spin and Clarke took an outstanding left-handed grab at slip.
3. TAKING THE NEW BALL. In the 79th over Bell was given out lbw to Watson (a decision overturned). In the next over Agar had Jonny Bairstow caught behind. The old ball was reverse-swinging as well as giving the spinner some grip. Clarke delayed the new Duke for three overs, but when he took it the scoring rate immediately leapt, with the next 60 balls producing 42 runs and invaluable momentum for England.
4. ALEEM’S DUH. Broad edged Agar to Clarke at slip, stood his ground – and umpire Dar gave him not out. It was one of the most blatant incorrect decisions in memory, so bad in fact that it made one feel sorry for the umpire. Dale Steyn tried his hand at the punny stuff on Twitter: “Clear as broad daylight... #Shocker” Shane Warne was considerably blunter: ‘No surprise re Aleem Dar. He's always had no idea.’
Caught our eye
On the field: Broad’s shoulder pad, a piece of protective equipment familiar in the NFL but hitherto unknown in cricket.
Off the field: an intriguing peek into the record books to check previous fourth innings totals at Trent Bridge. Pundits keep mentioning England’s 6-284 against New Zealand in 2004, the highest successful run chase. However, the Kiwis’ 440 to fall just short in 1973, and the same side’s unsuccessful 345 in 1983 are overlooked. These tallies should provide Australia with hope.
Soundtrack of the day
"Tighten Up" – Archie Bell and the Drells (or, if you are closer to the Ashton Agar generation, The Black Keys). This Test is tighter than the Justin Langer-Matthew Hayden bromance. What a fine start to an Ashes series.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 13 July, 2013 6:50AM AEST