Australia holding firm in third test
Victory for England at Old Trafford would ensure Ashes are retained once more
England’s James Anderson reacts as Australia’s Chris Rogers and Shane Watson take a run during the first day of the third Ashes testat Old Trafford. Photograph: Philip Brown/Reuters
Australia captain Michael Clarke’s century helped ensure yet more Decision Review System controversy was overshadowed on the opening day of the third Investec Test at Emirates Old Trafford.
Clarke hit Australia’s first century of the series — and helped his side to 303 for three — after he walked to the crease amid more confusion over the role of the third umpire.
Usman Khawaja was given the red light by TV official Kumar Dharmasena despite replays, and Hotspot, showing no sign he had edged behind off Graeme Swann.
On-field umpire Tony Hill had raised the finger, despite mostly half-hearted appeals, and Dharmasena apparently saw no evidence to overturn that ruling.
It prompted widespread condemnation, with even Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeting his disapproval, while former leg-spinner Shane Warne branded it “ridiculous and shocking”.
England were, however, unable to make much headway thereafter as Clarke stood firm in an archetypal ‘captain’s knock’ of 125 unbeaten and highlighted by his battle with Swann.
Swann had threatened to become a major factor, on a pitch that took considerable turn for the first day, when he removed Chris Rogers lbw for his Test-best 84 mid-way through the day.
But Clarke and Steven Smith (70 not out) then put on 174 in increasingly hot and batsmen-friendly conditions — albeit riding some DRS luck of their own. Smith twice survived marginal reviews by England before Stuart Broad trapped his plumb in front, only for Hill to turn down their pleas.
Australia’s defiance ensured England’s bid to retain the Ashes this week was at least given some sort of reality check, after they coasted into a 2-0 series lead with the 347-run success at Lord’s.