England take command in the Second Test
Friday 03 December 2010
The Brisbane scoreboard that showed England’s second-innings total will become an iconic cricket photograph. Who would have guessed the tourists would be responsible for another historic image only four days later?
At the Gabba on Monday, England were 517 for one. At the Adelaide Oval on Friday, Australia were two for three after 13 deliveries. Remarkable cricket, and though the Second Test and the Ashes series are still in their infancy, Andrew Strauss’ team are growing up fast.
Jimmy Anderson was outstanding throughout, removing Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke after Simon Katich had been dismissed for a diamond duck to produce that extraordinary scorecard. He took two for 18 in his first seven-over spell, and sent back Shane Watson in his first over. With the second new ball, he accounted for Peter Siddle to finish with four for 51 from 19 overs.
Stuart Broad did not shine as brightly but lent competent support, and although Steve Finn struggled, Graeme Swann finally came to the party with two wickets in two deliveries just when Gabba heroes Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin were threatening to turn the match back in Australia’s favour.
Hussey was finally dismissed by Swann for 93 and although Haddin made an entertaining 56, Australia could not recover from the worst start to a Test first innings in their history and were bowled out for 245. England survived a single over from Ryan Harris to close a productive day one without loss.
In front of 38,615, the highest Adelaide Oval crowd since the 1932/33 Bodyline series, Australia brought in Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger for Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson, while England were unchanged.
Ponting won what looked a crucial toss, but Australia got themselves into mess with the match only four balls old. Katich was late setting off for a single was well short of his ground when Jonathan Trott scored a direct hit from midwicket.
Katich did not look back at his partner Watson as he walked off having been run out without facing a ball, and then matters became much worse.
Ponting has always been vulnerable early in his innings to the full ball and Anderson found the perfect delivery, a subtle outswinger that drew the captain forward, took the edge and was clutched by Swann, falling to his left at second slip. After only five balls of the match, Australia had lost two wickets without scoring a run.
Before this match, Clarke had claimed that his dodgy back was not affecting his batting. If that is the case, the Aussie vice-captain is simply in filthy form. He had already played and missed at Broad when Anderson produced a repeat of the ball that did for Ponting. Clarke pushed at it with hard hands and gave Swann an easy catch.
Incredibly, Australia were two for three, and they could easily have lost a fourth wicket when the Kookaburra ball was still shiny and menacing. Watson survived a TV referral for an lbw decision when he had only seven. Anderson put down a tough one-handed caught-and-bowled chance to dismiss Hussey, who then came close to chopping on to his stumps before he edged Anderson just in front of Swann.
On such a good batting track, though, it was inevitable that Australia would regain some control. As he had in Brisbane, Finn allowed himself to be driven too easily by Watson, who also smashed Swann over deep midwicket for six. Hussey was not quite as attacking as his partner in the morning session, but he was also able to take advantage of Finn’s faulty radar.
With Watson reaching his fifty just before lunch, Australia were 94 for three at the interval and in a position to push on, only for Anderson to claim his third wicket in the second over after the break. Watson’s miscued drive was caught in the gully by Kevin Pietersen and the opener was on his way for 51.
As the under-pressure Marcus North joined Hussey in the middle, the fireworks of the morning gave way to a slow burner of an afternoon session. England reinforced the off-side field to try to reduce Hussey’s scoring areas, but with the left-hander in such immaculate touch - he scored 195 in the first-innings at the Gabba - it proved a very difficult task.
Hussey ploughed on remorselessly and, for a while, it appeared as though North would be the solid partner he needed. North made sensible progress but then took leave of his senses, gifting Finn his first wicket with a half-hearted wave outside the off stump that was edged through to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
England sensed an opening, but as they had at the Gabba, Haddin and Hussey were able to repel them and build a 51-run sixth-wicket stand until, with Hussey seven runs short of his third Ashes hundred in as many innings, Swann struck.
Hussey dominated Swann at the Gabba and had done so here, too, but this was the classic off-spinner’s delivery to the left-hander. It pitched and turned away from Hussey, who was tempted to play far from his body and steered the ball to Paul Collingwood at slip.
One ball later, Harris was on his way back to the pavilion and Swann had his second wicket in as many deliveries - and this time England had the rub of the green with the decision review system after it had worked against them in Brisbane. Convinced he had edged the ball into his pad, Harris asked for a TV replay after being given out lbw, but no snick was evident and umpire Marais Erasmus’ decision was upheld.
For Swann, it was the perfect antidote after he had been struck on the big toe by Haddin’s powerful drive shortly after tea, but his pain was nothing compared to what Australia felt when Xavier Doherty was run out at the striker’s end after an awful mix-up with Haddin.
Once a team with such a confident stride, Australia are beginning to stumble, and England must ensure Ponting’s team are not allowed to regain their footing over the weekend.
Tom Collomosse is the cricket correspondent for the Evening Standard
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