The English may have taken the upper hand leading into the final day but Ashton Agar gives the Aussies hope.
The English have taken the upper hand, needing only four wickets to take a 1-0 advantage in the Test series. Australia need 137 runs, which weather permitting, makes a draw the most unlikely result from today's play.
While the Aussies would need to set a new run-chase record for Trent Bridge to take victory, they are not as badly placed as they might appear. You only need to cast your mind back to the 2005 Ashes Test at Edgbaston to see what is possible with a bit of grit and determination. Sure the Aussies still went down by two runs, but at 8-175 going into the final day, they were in a much worse position than today (6-174).
With Brad Haddin (three Test centuries to his name) and Ashton Agar (one near Test century to his name from one innings played) at the crease the task is achievable and could well catapult the 19-year-old debutant into Australian cricketing folklore.
QUICK SINGLE: DAY FOUR HIGHLIGHTS
When Agar was named as a shock inclusion on day one, no-one could have predicted he would be the player cast as Australia's match winner, but that is precisely the position he finds himself in on the final day. His day two heroics will be remembered forever, but if he can put in another display like he did in the first innings there is every chance he will take out Australian of the Year honours. The conditions are considerably harder with the pitch now offering plenty of spin and reverse swing, which makes a repeat effort unlikely, but that's what people would have said about a No.11 making 98 on debut.
Under the lid
Brad Haddin has done a great job with the gloves this Test, but in the modern game good glovework isn't the only thing that matters, with the contribution with the bat seen as being equally important. Haddin was bamboozled by Swann before the pitch really started spinning on day two, which isn't a great sign for the final day. Agar's day two heroics were only made possible by having the steady hand of Phil Hughes down the other end. Haddin needs to assume that role today if the Aussies are to get over the line.
QUICK SINGLE: FIRST TEST PHOTO GALLERY
In the medical room
Despite trying his best to revisit the '80s by wearing shoulder pads while at the batting crease, it appears Stuart Broad is over his shoulder worries, as he managed to get through 16 overs and take 2-34 in the process.
The Aussies are also devoid of injury concerns with Michael Clarke making it through the first Test without any back complaints. He may, however, want to rethink his pain management technique at Lord's, because his short stays at the batting crease aren't helping the Australian cause.
Between the wickets
Incredibly, it looks like the first Test will be uninterrupted by rain, something that was probably more unlikely than Agar's first innings knock. While the pitch was always expected to turn and offer significant advantage to Graeme Swann on the final day, the Aussies will be much more concerned by the reverse swing being offered by the dry, coarse surface at Trent Bridge. Batting won't be easy on the final day.
Bye the way
Things don't bode well for the Aussies today. The Poms have never lost a Test in which Ian Bell has scored a century, although six of those 17 completed matches have ended in a draw. It may appear the unlikeliest result at this point, but if this Test has proved anything, it is that nothing can be ruled out entirely.
Today’s play is dedicated to… Sid Barnes
The Australian team that toured England in 1948 is regarded as a pretty decent one and things got off to a strong start at Trent Bridge as Australia won the First Test by eight wickets, with a few handy players such as Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Morris, Hassett, Johnson and Johnston tormenting the English.
But our hero is Australian opening bat Sid Barnes who, having clipped a crisp half-century in the second innings, moved to 64 with a boundary and what he considered to be the winning runs. Jubilant, Barnes pulled a stump out of the ground and jogged happily back to the pavilion … only then realising that the crowd seemed to be making quite a lot of noise in his direction.
Yes, he'd screwed up the maths and the scores were in fact tied. Sid was forced to return to the middle and watch as Lindsay Hassett scored the actual winning runs.
To complete Barnes' day, in the ensuing scramble for match souvenirs, he missed out on a stump.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 14 July, 2013 12:52PM AEST