Ashes Lunch Report: Australia unable to take advantage after Strauss goes cheaply

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The Independent Online

There seems no limit to the drama of the Ashes series. Another day, another sensation. On the second morning of the second Test early today the England captain, Andrew Strauss, was again at its centre.

To the third delivery of the day from Doug Bollinger, the second over of the innings, Strauss offered no stroke to a straight ball and was horrified to see it clip the top of his off and middle stumps. It was the oddest decision: presumably Strauss decided to leave the ball on length but its straightness should have warned him this was at best inadvisable.

The series continues to throw up moments of pure theatre. The first Test was full of them from the third ball on, when Strauss slashed a catch to gully. Since then each day has had its own epic interludes. There was more to come.

Australia knew they had to strike with the new ball after the shortfall of runs in their first innings. But they squandered further opportunities which might have stopped the tourists' innings in its tracks.

Jonathan Trott was left stranded after pushing the ball on the leg side and setting off for a silly single. Sent back by Alastair Cook he had no hope of making his ground and had given up the ghost by the time Xavier Doherty's throw from square leg missed the stumps.

Three overs later, Trott was reprieved again when he drove at Bollinger. The ball swerved from the outside of the bat to backward point where Mike Hussey dropped a low but eminently regulation chance. Australia had dropped a hatful of catches in Brisbane and this again seemed to denote the unsettled nature of their team.

Cook looked to be in splendid form, as he should have been considering that he had made 235 not out to save England in the first Test. A classic off-drive for four – a shot that Cook normally plays twice a season and then only when well into three figures – confirmed it.

The second-wicket pair punished anything loose and Trott was harsh on anything pitched on his legs, where Australia kept bowling at him. Runs flowed in the first hour and England reached 50 off a mere 68 balls.

The sides took the pitch this morning with much discussion about the row between the sides the previous evening. Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, had dashed to have a word with Strauss as the teams left the pitch.

It seemed that there had been a dispute between Brad Haddin and James Anderson during Australia's innings and there were suggestions of shoulders touching. Compared to previous Ashes conflagrations it was extremely low key and England, in keeping with their policy of paying the opposition scant heed in public, said it was inconsequential.