|Scorecard:||England v Australia|
|Player:||ST Finn, MG Johnson, DA Warner, PM Nevill|
|Event:||Australia in England and Ireland 2015|
DateLine: 31st July 2015
By Andy Jalil at Edgbaston
In association with INVESTEC
England in complete command of second Ashes Test
Birmingham – Sometime during the first half of the third day’s play England will go into the lead in the series with a resounding win in the second Test. That the match has gone into the third day was owing to the battling stand of Australia’s lower order batsmen who have made England bowlers strive hard for wickets. By stumps Australia, on 168 for seven were in lead by a mere 23 runs and it should be a matter of time before England, with bowlers fresh in the morning, can wrap up the innings and then knock off the runs.
A rampant England pace attack has dominated the tourists for most of the first two day’s play. An excellent spell of pace bowling by Steve Finn reduced them to 76 for four with him taking three for 7 in a 15-ball spell either side of tea. Australia then struggled on 92 for five with David Warner fighting a lone battle unbeaten on 68.
With a substantial first innings deficit of 145, Australia had made a poor start to their second innings losing, Chris Rogers for 6, lbw to Stuart Broad in the fourth over. While Warner kept picking up runs they lost Steve Smith for 8 in Finn’s second over. It was a poor shot for the world’s No 1 ranked Test batsman so early in the innings when he top-edged his pull high behind the stumps.
Meanwhile Australia’s 50 had come up from 59 balls with Warner hitting Finn for four to take his score to 36. He brought up his 17th Test half century from just 35 balls. The third over after the tea brought the dismissal of Michael Clarke as he edged Finn to third slip and with his next ball the lanky Middlesex man had Adam Voges snapped up at second slip.
After Mitchell Marsh was bowled by Finn, Warner, on 77 from 62 balls, mistimed an intended flick and the leading edge flew into the hands of cover. A stubborn seventh wicket stand followed between Peter Nevill and Mitchell Johnson which lasted for nearly an hour-and-a-quarter. They put on 42 from 106 balls before Finn broke the partnership with the first ball of his third spell as Johnson, in attempting a pull, top-edged to backward point.
Australia’s tail-enders had no intention to surrender in a hurry. Nevill found in Mitchell Starc another willing partner to hold his end up until close of play. Nevill remained unbeaten after grinding 37 from 117 balls faced over two hours and 20 minutes.
Earlier, the tourists were quick to take the initiative at the start of play with two wickets in the second over. It was Johnson who produced a fearsome over which gave him two wickets in three balls. Both wickets fell to vicious bouncers that any fast bowler would be proud of. Jonny Bairstow was the first to go. He was caught behind off his glove as the ball, directed at his body, rose sharply at fierce pace giving little chance to the batsman to avoid it.
Two balls later an almost identical ball to Ben Stokes brought the same result and England were 142 for five having resumed the innings on 133 for three. Joe Root, 30 overnight, played his shots freely taking his score to 44 with two consecutive fours off Josh Hazelwood. He then got to 49 with an effortless push, perfectly timed, to the cover boundary and then ran two to reach his 13th Test half century.
His fine innings ended on 63 form 75 balls when he reached to drive a ball well outside off stump. England were then 182 for six and eight runs later Jos Buttler was trapped in front of the stumps by Nathan Lyon. Moeen Ali and Broad combined for England’s highest stand of 87 in 20 overs taking their side to 221 for seven at lunch.
There was quick scoring after the break. Broad took two fours in an over from Lyon to take his score to 23 while Ali hit two fours in two successive overs from Johnson. He played two lovely wristy drives to mid-on and two powerful pulls to take his score to 47. He reached his fourth Test half century pushing a single off Hazelwood who then struck with two wickets in three balls.
Broad’s pull from outside off-stump was held at mid-on for 31 leaving England on 277 for eight and Ali, slashing at a wide ball, top-edged to third man on 59 from 78 balls with 44 of his runs coming from boundaries. With his wicket England lost three for four to be dismissed for 281.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2015 Andy Jalil)