|Scorecard:||England v Australia|
|Player:||MJ Clarke, SR Watson, RT Ponting, SJ Harmison, SCJ Broad|
|Event:||Australia in British Isles 2009|
DateLine: 7th August 2009
It was a combination of accuracy, swing and hostility from the Australian bowlers which caused England to crash to 102 all out in just 33.5 overs. Australia in reply scored 196 for the loss of four wickets with 94 runs ahead. Clarke and North were at the batting crease when stumps were called.
Ponting had called incorrectly and Strauss had the advantage of having the first use of the pitch dreaming of putting up a challenging score. The Australians had replaced Nathan Hauritz with Stuart Clark while Harmison replaced an injured Flintoff. There was a scare of injury for Matt Prior too when he went down playing football during the warm-ups. But then in the end he made it to the side.
Hilfenhaus was handed the new ball and off the first ball he had Strauss plumb before the stumps only to see in horror umpire Billy Bowden negating the appeal. Strauss had nearly put the bat between his arms and was preparing for the marching orders but then was reprieved He did not survive for long when his edge off Siddle was superbly caught by North at second slip reminding many of Mark Waugh’s brilliance in the slips during the last decade.
Cook was joined by Bopara who was clearly under pressure to convince many of his critics that he was the ideal number three in the English batting line-up. But those thought were put to rest when he played loosely at an outswinger from Hilfenhaus which was snaffled up by Hussey at gully to leave England at 16 for the loss of two wickets.
Bell was the next man in and he rarely looked comfortable. Though he found the boundary fence twice, both were off loose shots. He was roughed up by an improved Johnson and finally removed him via a vicious bouncer which he managed only to run it down into the gloves of Haddin. Paul Collingwood hung his bat out limply only to give an edge to Ponting off Clark who then proceeded to remove Cook who was beginning to look quite comfortable as England sunk to an embarrassing 63 for the loss of five wickets.
Matt Prior managed to release some pressure with a couple of boundaries off Johnson but at the other end at the stroke of lunch, Clark trapped Broad leg before to end the morning session in Australia’s favour. The demolition work continued even after the lunch when Swann was removed by Siddle when he edged to Clarke at first slip. Harmison left the batting crease without troubling the scorers when he edged one down the legside through to Haddin and it looked like England might just fail to cross the hundred run mark.
Prior and Anderson huffed and puffed past the hundred run mark but that was the only distance that they could cover. Siddle hurried Anderson with a nasty bouncer which he could only fend it to Haddin behind the stumps and off the next ball; Siddle reproduced another bloodthirsty bouncer which hit Onions on his forearm and rebounded to Katich at short leg. Unfortunately for Onions, the umpire ruled that he had gloved the ball and Siddle finished with excellent figures of 5 for 21 in 9.5 overs.
If England were expecting to strike back with the ball, that hope disappeared when Watson crashed the first two balls of the Australian innings, rank long hops from Anderson, to point boundary to get the Australian innings started. Harmison though got one to lift nastily at Katich who could only fend it to leg gully and English spirits seemed to lift.
Ponting was accompanied by the now customary boos to the crease and he quickly silenced the partisan crowd as he began to counterattack brilliantly. He vented out his anger on a hapless Onions as he cut and pulled to peel Onions apart for heart-breaking 17 runs in an over. Ian Bell missed a run-out chance when Ponting was no-where near the crease, and he rubbed more salt into the English wounds by still going for his shots.
England seemed to be a bowler short as it was evident that Anderson was struggling with a hamstring injury. On conditions that seemed tailor-made for him he rarely looked threatening and his spells would contain only one genuine wicket-taking ball. Ponting was in a fiery mood as he did not let the English bowlers get into a rhythm by finding boundaries at will to sink the English spirits. By the end of the twenty third over, Australia had taken the lead with nine wickets in tact.
Once the lead was taken, Watson began to open up and in Harmison’s seventh over he tore apart the English pacemen for 12 runs and the bowler looked downcast and began to send down balls which had ‘hit me’ written all over it. Harmison looked like he had misread the script as most of the balls were dug in short with alarming regularity and to make the matters worse he provided the batsmen width which was duly dispatched without much trouble.
Strauss had enough of two rubbish overs from Harmison and he called back Onions who after the initial 17 run over looked the only bowler to maintain some control over the proceedings. Watson completed his third fifty in a row as an opener but a couple of balls later; he was trapped by a straighter one from Onions. Watson had helped his captain put on 119 in 25.5 overs and Australia looked in complete control. However in the next over Ponting seemed to lose his concentration playing and missing once, getting a streaky boundary and then nearly got run-out.
But his stay was cut short when Broad trapped him leg before with a sharp inswinger and then a couple of overs later from round the wicket Broad produced another in swinger to pin Hussey in the crease to reduce Australia to 151 for the loss of four wickets. With the wicket of Hussey the English fielding side looked more energetic and the bowlers began to look sharper with Broad leading the way and Onions supporting him well. The duo began to ask more disturbing questions to North and Clarke and the pair negotiated the testing period well.
Clarke was struck on his helmet by a sickening blow from Harmison, but he showed his steely character as he held together the innings in the company of North as they added 45 in 16.3 overs.