The Ashes: Round-Up & 3rd Test Preview
After only just losing the first test, and failing miserably in the second, Australia have it all to do if they are to save The 2013 Ashes series.
The First Test
England scraped past Australia in the first test in rather bizarre fashion as both teams waited for a decision review system (DRS) response from the third umpire.
The decision went with the English and the country could breathe a sigh of relief after Australia came within 15 runs of winning the game themselves.
A 10th wicket partnership of 65, shared between Brad Haddin and James Pattinson, cast doubt in the minds of the England supports and players as they nurdled their way closer and closer to victory.
England’s Mr Dependable, James Anderson, was the hero of the day taking Australia’s final wicket of Haddin, who was caught behind of the slightest of nicks through to the keeper, Matt Prior.
England would have thought they were favourites mid-way through the Australian second innings when no fewer than six Aussies were dismissed for single figures.
However, a sneaky surprise up the sleeves from Down Under was lurking at number 11, and when Ashton Agar blasted 98 runs from 101 balls, taking the Australian score 65 runs past that of England’s first innings, the fight was well and truly on.
He was well supported by half centuries from Smith and Hughes, but the rest of the batting line-up was a huge disappointment.
A much better English second innings followed, with a patient century from Ian Bell and half century contributions from captain Cook, Pietersen and Broad left England on 375 all-out, and set Australia a target of 311 to win.
English nerves would have been jangling when both Australian batsmen made good contributions (Watson 46 and Rogers 52), and there was a strong fight by most of the batsmen all down the order.
Agar was promptly promoted from 11th to 8th, but could only manage 14 runs in the second innings.
Haddin and Patterson came close to winning the game, but man-of-the-match Anderson had other ideas, and took the crucial final wicket.
Taking 10 wickets for 158 runs off 55.5 overs was a tremendous achievement for Anderson, who deservedly took all the plaudits when the final “out” decision was given.
England Win By 14 Runs
The Second Test
The second test was a much more one-sided affair, with England completely out-batting Australia from start to finish.
Bell was once again the centurion for England, scoring 109, and he was this time accompanied with healthy scores by Trott, Bairstow and Broad.
Harris was the pick of the bowlers with 5-72 off 26 overs, getting his name on the honours board at Lords.
A first innings score of 361 all-out left Australia a bit of work to do in response.
The Aussies barely replied.
Posting a dismal score of 128 all-out, none of the batsmen had a response for the England bowlers and in particular, Graeme Swann, who himself took 5-44 for a place on the board.
England could have enforced the follow-on and tried to win by an innings, but decided to try and bat Australia out of the game by posting a second monumental and un-catchable score.
Joe Root was the stand-out performer of the second innings, posting 180 runs for his second ever international ton.
Ian Bell scored well again, posting another half century with 74, but England declared on 349-7 once Root’s wicket fell.
This left Australia with 582 to win the game and, arguably, time enough to reach the score – if they went hell for leather but were careful with their wickets.
There was little hope of an Australian win however, regardless of the half centuries from Khawaja and captain Clarke, no other Aussie batsman was able to put many runs on the board, and the floppy green capped men were once again bowled out. This time 347 runs shy of their target.
England Win By 347 Runs
The Third Test Preview
The third Ashes Test will come from the north west ground, Old Trafford, in Lancashire.
With another strong performance similar to the first two tests, England can win the Ashes after just three matches, with two still to play.
Kevin Pietersen may be ruled out with a calf strain, so selectors are closely monitoring him and other batsmen who have the potential to fill his spot.
James Taylor looks like the front runner to replace Pietersen as he has been asked, by England, to play against an Australia XI for Sussex, despite playing for Nottinghamshire in domestic competition.
Australia’s Pattinson has been ruled out for the rest of the series with an injured back, so Western Australia’s Ashton Turner has been called up to offer more variety and options with spin bowling.
England are firm favourites to win the game and keep The Ashes, but only 5 days of hard work and concentration can win a cricket match against a youthful Australian side that is full of potential.