The day started with Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh continuing their form from the previous day. After a couple of loose overs to begin both Broad and Anderson managed to build some pressure with consecutive maidens, and on Broad’s third over of the day he managed to draw Marsh into playing a drive on the up from a slower ball. Anderson at mid off caught the looping ball, and England were off to a great start.
After Tim Paine came in, England settled down into a routine to bowl out the 12 remaining overs to the new ball. Jake Ball bowled bouncers outside off the Steve Smith whilst Moeen Ali bowled from the other end to rest the other bowlers in advance of the new ball. It worked to a point, restraining Australia’s strike rate when they might otherwise have been looking to cash in, but didn’t generate any clear chances. One bouncer did cause Smith some discomfort, hitting the shoulder of the bat, but it fell well short of England’s fielders in the ring.
Anderson made a breakthrough in the first over with the new Kookaburra, Tim Paine edging a quick outswinger to Bairstow. This wicket brought Mitchell Starc in, and England sensed the chance to run through the Aussie tail with the new ball. Starc raised the crowd’s hopes with a six smashed straight down the ground from Stuart Broad’s first over in the spell, but those hopes were dashed two balls laters as a leading edge floated back down the wicket where Broad caught it. Pat Cummins and Steve Smith safely negotiated the remaining 6 overs to Lunch, where England fans worried about Anderson’s fitness as the bowler ended his bowling after just three overs in the spell whilst holding his left side.
The second session began poorly for England, with Smith and Cummins slowly accumulating runs through the first hour against Ball, Woakes and Moeen. Broad and Anderson returned to bring a bit more control to proceedings, but couldn’t pierce the Australian defences. Eventually Smith reached his century with an off drive against Broad. It took until the end of the session for England to take another wicket, with Cummins eventually edging a ball to Cook at first slip.
The evening session didn’t go much better for England, although Moeen did bowl Hazlewood early in the session. Smith and Lyon kept going, with Smith taking Australia into the lead by guiding a short delivery from Jake Ball for four. It took an hour for England to take the final Australian wicket, with Lyon edging an offspinner from Root to leg slip.
It didn’t get any better for England when they started batting either. Cook fell in the 4th over after top-edging a pull to long leg, which will disappoint him as he has a good reputation against the short ball. Vince nicked one to slip two overs later, reverting back to his more familiar form. A quick bouncer hit Root on the head, breaking a part of his helmet clean off, but he carried on after a quick inspection from England’s team doctor. Root and Stoneman survived the onslaught, and England ended on 33/2 with a lead of 7.
It’s notable how much better the Australian tail played compared to England’s, especially since that is supposed to be a strength of the tourists. Of course Australia was helped by the fact that they had Smith batting through the innings, but Australia added 153 for their last five wickets whilst England’s tail only managed 56. A lot of that seems to be not a weakness in England’s batting but in their bowling. Australia’s bowlers were able to successfully bounce out England’s tail, or Lyon confused them with his spin. England’s bowlers seemed unable to reliably trouble the Aussies, particularly Ball, Woakes and Moeen.
As always, please comment below. I’m off to bed now!