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Peter English at Adelaide
December 1, 2006
Stuart Clark was surprisingly under-used by Ricky Ponting after he had England limping in the first session with two early blows. Having taken seven wickets in the first Test, Clark followed up with another strong performance that began with him removing the openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook.
While Brett Lee struggled for penetration and Glenn McGrath battled with his left-heel injury, Clark provided some zip on a slow Adelaide pitch and was rewarded during an opening spell of 2 for 15 off eight overs. Clark forced Strauss to pop to Damien Martyn, who took a sharp catch at mid-on, and then captured Cook's edge as he tried a push to cover.
Despite Clark's early dominance, he was sent to the outfield for much of the rest of the day as Shane Warne was heavily relied on and Lee and McGrath were preferred. Clark came back for a 12-ball spell to finish the day and ended with 2 for 25 from 15.
"You're very disappointed when you're not bowling," he said. "You can't bowl them out when you're standing at fine leg and it does get a bit boring down there at times. Ricky went down a different path and he had a few ideas in mind and I'm sure I'll get another chance."
McGrath passed a fitness test this morning and trotted out one of his favourite lines to Clark. "He said he was 100% and never felt better, so you can only take his word and go for it," he said. After watching his team-mate return 0 for 51, Clark said McGrath's foot was fine and his fitness was not an issue.
Australia eased off after lunch as Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood added half-centuries that squeezed England to 3 for 266. "If they got 350 we would have had a bad day," Clark said. "We kept it nice and tight but they probably got away from us a bit in the last session. If you stick two wickets early on that score and bowl them out for 250 or 270 we're right back in the game and almost on top."
Collingwood can expect some extra attention when he resumes on 98. Clark said the batsman would "definitely" be targeted, especially after his near miss at the Gabba. "Batters get tense around that figure," he said. "He got a bit tense in Brisbane. Hopefully we'll go there in the morning and keep him out there for a couple of overs and get him out."
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