|Scorecard:||England v Australia|
|Event:||Australia in British Isles 2013|
DateLine: 21st August 2013
By Andy Jalil at The Oval
In association with INVESTEC
London – A brilliant innings of 176, spanning five and three quarter hours, by Shane Watson placed Australia in a strong position in the final Ashes Test to end the first day’s play on 307 for four. Although England began the Test with the Ashes already retained, a victory for them would give them an overwhelming series result of 4-0 for the first time. But Watson’s innings has given his side the chance of a face-saving win.
England claimed an early wicket after Australia decided to make first use of a fine batting pitch when James Anderson, in his third over had David Warner held behind as he drove loosely to a ball of full length just outside off stump. But that was followed by a century stand between Chris Rogers and Watson with the latter in dominating mood.
He was aggressive from the start and of the first fifty of their stand he had 41. He reached 30 having taken three fours in an over off Chris Woakes. The first was a lovely cover drive he then steered to third man followed by a flick to mid-wicket. He went on to hit two more fours off the same bowler, a pull and a perfect straight drive, which took him to 41. A six off Graeme Swann which landed by the sight screen saw him to 48 and his 21st Test half century came from 61 balls.
His most severe attack on the bowling was reserved for the debutant left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan who was taken off after two overs, the first of which conceded 10 runs and 18 off the next which included four fours. It took Watson to76 from 71 balls with 15 fours. Shortly before lunch Watson and Rogers brought up the 100 of their partnership.
The breakthrough for England came after four overs into the second session when a slightly turning off spin from Swann found the outside edge of Rogers’ bat for a catch at slip. Watson progressed to 91 with a four off Stuart Broad and in the same over he was struck by a rising ball towards the back of the head as he attempted late to evade.
He recovered soon to bring up his third Test hundred from 114 balls as he ran three to deep point from a drive off Anderson. But meanwhile on 98 he lost Michael Clarke who played-on to Anderson and Australia were 144 for three. The wicket made Anderson the second highest England wicket-taker, passing 325 by Bob Willis and behind Ian Botham who has 383.
Watson and Steve Smith then combined to form another fine stand for Australia with Watson continuing to play his strokes freely to reach 150 from 194 balls. He had by then gone well past his previous highest Test score of 126. Smith, who gave his senior partner excellent support was picking up runs steadily. Using his feet to Kerrigan, he drove him in style to the mid-on boundary to take his score to 38 and then a lovely square drive to point for four saw him to 47 before reaching his sixth Test fifty from 113 balls.
With just three overs remaining, England eventually claimed Watson’s wicket when he hooked a bouncer from Broad to be held at deep backward point, having faced 247balls of which he hit 25 fours and a six and Australia were 289 for four. Smith, having batted for little over three-and-a-quarter hours, remained unbeaten on 66 from 133 balls with nine fours and a six.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2013 Andy Jalil)