Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Ashes: Cardiff Test, Day Three

This Test continues to canter along at quite a pace. England have arguably had the better the opening two days - could they grab the initiative on day three? Australia begin the day on 264-5 with Shane Watson and night watchman Nathan Lyon at the crease. Mark Wood and Stuart Broad open the bowling for England. Here's all the action from day three at Cardiff.

After a couple of LBW appeals, Shane Watson gets hit on the pad again. Broad pleads with the umpire and Erasmus, after having a long old think, gives old Watto out.
And Watson, true to form, decides to review it. It's an understandable review, he's the last recognised batsman and it was a bit high/legsided, but DRS shows umpire's call and Watto's on his way. He goes for 30 leaving Australia 265-6 and England with split sides. It's an ideal start to the morning for England.

It gets even better for England as Mark Wood dismisses Nathan Lyon. He fires in a full delivery and Lyon misses it. He goes LBW for 6 to leave Australia 265-7.
Watson wicket means that England's nemesis, Brad Haddin, has arrived at the crease and he gets off the mark in typical Brad style, an inside edge that narrowly misses the stumps and goes for 4. After an optimistic review, England take the new ball. Jimmy brings out a masterclass of swing bowling and Haddin can't get an edge on it, until he changes his bat... 
And nicks one behind to Buttler. England fans are ecstatic, Haddin has gone for 22 and they no longer have to watch him attempt to edge and slog Australia out of danger. Australia are 304-8.  
And it gets even better for England as Johnson, another 13/14 nemesis with the bat, clips Broad into the leg side...
Only to see it go straight to Gary Ballance at short midwicket. He goes for 14, Australia are 308-9.
Mitchell Starc, on one leg, comes to the crease. England are bowling superbly and Jimmy picks up the final wicket of the Australian first innings as Starc edges one...
And can only watch as Root dives to his left and takes a good catch. The 'shush' gesture comes out and Australia are all out for 308. England have a lead of 122.
England fans, still shell shocked from the previous Ashes series, wonder if they're dreaming.

England have about 40 minutes until the lunch break and look to start positively. Unfortunately, Cook goes for 12, going for a drive.
He's caught well by a diving Nathan Lyon. It's a surprise to everyone and Australia sense a way back into the match as it leaves England 17-1.
Starc bowls a very testing over to Ballance before the lunch break but he survives. England reach 21-1 and have a lead of 143. England fans are confused, a little scared, and are, of course, nervous. 

(The perils of doing this late at night, I've got Hazlewood the wrong side of the wicket. Sorry.) Hazlewood could've had Lyth out twice, but as he's not Shane Watson, the umpire is unmoved by their appeals. But Hazlewood gets a deserved wicket as Ballance is deceived by some uneven bounce...
And he ends up gloving it behind to Brad Haddin. England are 22-2.
Ian Bell comes to the crease and he could do with a good innings. He gets off the mark with a controlled edge between third slip and gully.
Which, of course, goes for 4 because who has a third man these days?
Nathan Lyon comes onto bowl and Lyth greets him with a slog sweep...
That goes for 6. A flurry of boundaries after Ballance's wicket, including some glorious Ian Bell cover drives that have people reaching for wet flannels and fans. The 50 partnership comes up between Bell and Lyth as England continue to be positive.
But Lyon has the last laugh against Lyth, who are both apparently 27. Lyth pushes at one that he doesn't really need to and it goes flying off to Clarke at slip...
Who dives to his left to take a wonderful catch. Lyth goes for 37 and England are 73-3. 
Joe Root comes to the crease. Him and Ian Bell continue to look for runs, scoring with some glorious drives that have the Cardiff crowd groaning. Clarke, desperate for something after Ian Bell has attacked Nathan Lyon so comfortably, turns to Shane Watson. An outside edge from Root sails between Clarke and Smith...
And goes for 4. It brings up the 50 partnership between Root and Bell.
And Ian Bell brings up his 50 with an uppish drive...
Which goes to the boundary. It's a huge innings for Ian Bell and a relief for him to get some of the critics off his back. 
 Tea, and England go in 149-3 and the lead approaches 300. Bell is on 53*.

But the fun is soon over for Bell. With his 216th legal delivery of the series, Mitchell Johnson finally gets his first wicket. Bell, looking to create some room, leaves his off stump exposed and Johnson fires the ball into it. Bell goes for 60 off 89 balls.
Ben Stokes comes to the crease and Mitchell Starc, hobbling between deliveries, causes him some issues.  In fact, he was plumb LBW but nobody went up in appeal. Australia miss the chance to review, because they seem to have forgotten how to cricket. Meanwhile, at the other end, Joe Root continues his fine form and hits a lovely cover drive off dear old Johnson...
It goes for 4 and Root brings up yet another half century. It's been quite a year for him. The 4 also takes England's lead to 300.
Root, looking to play back at one he probably should've been forward to, is bowled by Josh Hazlewood for 60. Cardiff is momentarily stunned. England are 207-5 with a lead of 329.
Stokes continues to be positive against Lyon, powerfully sweeping him to the fence for 4.
Buttler looks to get in on the action by attempting a reverse sweep, but it comes off his glove and loops in the air...
Straight to Brad Haddin behind the stumps. You can almost hear Boycott seething. Jos goes for 7 and England are 236-6, a lead of 358.
Stokes continues with his positive intent but ends up chopping on to Starc. He's out for the answer to life, the universe and everything, and England are 240-7. 
It quickly becomes 245-8 as Broad looks to smash Lyon into the River Taff...
But ends up hitting it to Josh Hazlewood, who takes a good catch diving forward.
England's lead approaches 400, but with so much time left in the game, the flurry of wickets gives Australia a glimmer of hope.
Australia, though, haven't banked on Mark Wood. He comes down the pitch and unleashes a brutal 6 on Lyon.
It's enormous and a potential one for the river, until the ball reappears. His lower order smashing takes England's lead past 400.
Moeen Ali looks to join in the fun and, spurred on by the Cardiff crowd's taunts of poor old Mitchell Johnson, looks to chase a wide one. Unfortunately for Mo, he ends up edging it behind.
Haddin takes a comfortable catch. Mo goes for 15.
And England are soon all out for 289. Jimmy, looks for the extravagant, completely misses an attempted sweep and ends up being bowled by Lyon for 1.
England are all out for 289, meaning Australia have 2 days in which to chase 412. A top day's cricket for England, bowling brilliantly, batting with freedom and aggression and, also, with a huge smile on their faces (especially if you're Mark Wood). The one bit of a low point for England is the lower order 'collapse', of sorts, albeit in pursuit of quick runs. 

Lyon finishes with 4-75, Starc with 2-60, Hazlewood with 2-49 and Johnson, finally off the mark, has 2-69. 

Will Alastair Cook be wearing a box in the slip cordon? Can Jimmy Anderson exploit the new ball to the extents that he did this morning? Is there a sickening twist in the tale of this Test match? (England fans certainly hope not) Join the ducks for day four later, as England search for 10 wickets to give them a completely unexpected 1-0 lead in The Ashes. 

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