|Scorecard:||England v Australia|
|Player:||GP Swann, A Flintoff, RT Ponting, MEK Hussey, PJ Hughes|
|Event:||Australia in British Isles 2009|
DateLine: 19th July 2009
Controversial decisions and gritty display of batting dominated the fourth day at Lord's. Though England moved within five wickets of a historic victory pretty soon in the day, Australian players (Michael Clarke (125) and Brad Haddin (80)) proved why the side is still one of the best teams in the world, when it comes to returning from places of no return.
The duo have added an unbeaten 185 runs for the sixth wicket and though a draw seems inevitable and neither an Aussie win looks likely, still the fight shown by the visiting team's vice-captain and their wicketkeeper was awe-inspiring to watch and a delight for the eyes. Before this partnership took the game over, Andrew Flintoff and Graeme Swann with their exceptional bowling had reprised memories of 2005 by pushing Australia to the brink of defeat.
Earlier in the day, England declared on their overnight total giving Australia a record total to chase after rain delayed the start of play by 15 minutes. The morning session was full of drama as the hosts inched ever closer to a historic victory at Lord's.
Controversy was the order of the morning. First Katich got out to what looked like a no ball from Flintoff and then Phillip Hughes was ordered to stand his ground by Ricky Ponting, the non-striker, after edging an Andrew Flintoff delivery to Andrew Strauss at first slip. Again like the Nathan Hauritz claimed catch yesterday, this time also replays were inconclusive as to whether Strauss' fingers were completely between the ball and the turf, but unlike yesterday, umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Doctrove did not refer the matter to Nigel Llong, the third umpire.
The two on-field umpires consulted each other for a while and then Koertzen ordered Hughes back to the pavilion, much to the disappointment of Ponting and delight of the Englishmen. The dismissal placed Australia precariously at lunch and England looked in total dominance.
Though the wickets had the element of doubt but nothing could be taken away from Flintoff who probably looked in the form of his life playing his last Test at Lord's. The right-armer stormed in from the Pavilion End, and bowled seven overs of pure aggression for figures of 2 for 9. His altercation with Hughes and Ponting reminded those with Gilchrist and Punter four years back.
In the second over of the morning, Flintoff bowled a ferocious bouncer that barely cleared Hughes' helmet. This was followed with a verbal barrage between him and the 20-year-old and then while going back to his mark the all-rounder also extended the warmness of his words towards Ponting.
England continued to smile in the afternoon session as Ponting continued his dismal run at Lord's. The Aussie skipper went for a cut to a delivery little outside off from Stuart Broad but the ball was too full and resultantly he was only successful in destroying his stumps.
Then another poor decision led to the demise of Mike Hussey. He looked in disbelief as he was given out, caught at slip to a delivery he came nowhere close to edging. The ball from Graeme Swann hit the rough and turned viciously from closer to the batsman's willow. This led the umpire to raise his finger but replays suggested the decision could had been better. As far as the catch was concerned, it was another one of those Collingwood specials which he plucks from thin air.
Swann it seemed was looking for a boost like this one. Suuddenly the deliveries started to land in the correct region and Marcus North under huge pressure, considering the place of the contest and the situation he was in could not cope up. Swann bowled one that went on with the arm and North could only manage a thin inside edge before the ball crashed into his stumps.
North's wicket almost certainly looked like signalling the end of Australia's survival prospects in the match but Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin had other ideas as they held firm to tea, advancing the Australian total to 178 for five.
Post tea also the two held fort for the rest of the day. The two had close shaves but never came close to losing their wickets. Clarke played the aggressors role and Haddin the subservient's. One of the things that helped Clarke was his experience of playing most of his cricket at the SCG. Even the worst turn that Swann got off the rough was nowhere close to what he is so used to at his home ground.
He often danced down the track to Swann and was quite comfortable facing him who till then was looking very dangerous on the crumbling surface. He also reached his magical three figures off Swann flicking him off his legs after getting down the track. This was Clarke's first Test hundred in England and third in Ashes.