Australia bowled out for 136 as Jimmy Anderson leads England fightback

Swing bowlers gets help from pitch on way to taking six wickets

 Ben Stokes  takes a catch at fifth slip as Jimmy Anderson takes his fifth wicket to remove Australia’s Mitchell Johnson during the first day of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Photograph:   Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Ben Stokes takes a catch at fifth slip as Jimmy Anderson takes his fifth wicket to remove Australia’s Mitchell Johnson during the first day of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

 

Third Test, day one: Australia 136; England 133-3

All the England bowlers have craved in order to contest this series is a little bit of help. Give them a flat pitch, a shirtfront like Lord’s, and they cannot compete against the sheer pace of the Australians. But a bit of nibble and they are in the game.

It doesn’t much matter how it comes: brooding low cloud and swing; grass and dampness to help the ball off the seam. Neither is the pace of the pitch of primary importance. Give us some lateral movement, they say, any kind, and we can expose frailties in batting in those unused to combating it.

In Cardiff, for the first Test, England found it and were victorious. At Lord’s it was absent and they paid an embarrassingly heavy price. Now, at Edgbaston, on a day of cloud and the occasional skittish shower that interrupted and finally curtailed play, the England seamers were given the tools and they delivered.

Jimmy Anderson, neutered without such help, gave a masterclass of controlled, mesmerising fast-medium bowling to destroy Australia’s batting, finishing the innings with six for 47, his best figures in an Ashes Test. Five of his wickets came in a compelling spell after lunch.

No less deserving was Stuart Broad, who claimed two, including the redoubtable Chris Rogers for a battling half century when all were failing around him. As pleasing as any, however, was the return of Steven Finn to the side in place of the injured and jaded Mark Wood. Finn bowled with real pace and control, removed the world’s No1 ranked batsman in his first Test for more than two years, and then yorked the Australia captain for good measure. If that was not heartening after his tribulations, then nothing is.

It meant that Australia, who had chosen to bat first, were bowled out for 136, and in 36 overs and four deliveries at that, which, the statistically minded will note, is two deliveries fewer than it took Australia to blast into oblivion the second England innings at Lord’s.

Rogers, if not their most eye-catching batsman then their most consistently reliable one, batted all but five of those overs to make 52, before he was lbw to Broad, from round the wicket.

There are times when a batsman makes the game seem easy but this was one making a difficult occupation appear exactly that, an exercise in hanging in, battling away. Ironic that he was close to missing the match because of the dizziness experienced after being hit at Lord’s, and too in his impending retirement from Test cricket. Cricket Australia should do all it can to persuade him to do otherwise.

The England response was close to an emphatic five-runs-per-over charge, precisely the riposte advocated in the aftermath of the second Test, and reminiscent of the counter-attack on this ground a decade ago.

Adam Lyth failed to get going again, edging a full blooded drive to first slip (although he faced 30 deliveries, which is more than nine of the Australia batsmen managed), and Alastair Cook, having played beautifully for 34, was mortified to see a full blooded pull from the second ball of a speculative first over from Nathan Lyon straight into the midriff of Adam Voges at short leg, who knew nothing of it but somehow clung on.

Ian Bell, meanwhile, had emerged to an ovation from his home crowd and immediately stamped some authority on the No 3 position, rattling along at a run a ball, driving as elegantly as anyone in the game, pulling Mitchell Johnson, and hitting Josh Hazlewood for successive boundaries through extra cover, down to third man, and a precise clip to square leg.

Shortly before the showers made a late and terminal reappearance his enthusiasm got the better of him, and trying to hit Lyon over the top, he succeeded only in skying the ball high to midwicket where David Warner did well to hold a tricky catch.

By then, though, he and Joe Root, 30 not out, including four fours and a six hooked fine off Johnson, had lent some vibrancy and taken England to within three of Australia’s total. They will resume the second day on 133 for three.

Anderson was irresistible. When there is movement to be had, it is an education: his mind ticks, he plots and plans, and sets up a batsman. Poor Peter Nevill.

The wicketkeeper has retained his place in the Australian team after the Lord’s win, but the decision not to reinstate Brad Haddin, who missed that Test for family reasons, has brought considerable criticism despite indifferent keeping and batting of late.

Now he met Anderson at his best. Three away-swingers, well wide of offstump, were flagged through with a flourish to Jos Buttler. The fourth, a little closer in line, might have done the same. Certainly Nevill thought so, as he shouldered arms. This was Anderson’s inswinger though, and it hooped back to peg back the offstump.

Here was swing bowling at its cerebral best, and it came in the middle of an excellent post-lunch session for England in which the final seven Australian wickets fell for 59 in what, at times, seemed a procession. The only partnership of any consequence had come when Rogers, squeezing out an innings reminiscent of his terrific grafting century at Chester-le-Street two years ago, and Voges added 43 for the fourth wicket before the latter hung an abject bat out to Anderson.

For Finn there was some measure of catharsis and he found excellent rhythm from the moment he replaced Broad at the City end to bowl the eighth over.

Anderson had already removed Warner, as lbw as it gets although the batsman chose to review it nonetheless, and Steve Smith had begun as startlingly idiosyncratic as ever. But Finn, determined not to get sucked into aiming at his pads, kept his discipline and his line outside off stump, Smith nibbled and Cook took a low slip catch well. Finn roared his celebration every bit as much as the crowd.

Michael Clarke, a captain struggling with his own form, was then comprehensively bowled by a near yorker. These are early days to talk about a renaissance for Finn, but it was a promising start.

(Guardian service)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.