England lead by 124 after Giles answers critics
Ashley Giles let his bowling do the talking on the second day at Edgbaston as England produced a superb allround performance, securing a priceless 124-run lead. Justin Langer led the Australian resistance with a battling 82 but Simon Jones and Andrew Flintoff worked their way through the tail. However, Shane Warne struck back for Australia to dismiss Andrew Strauss in the last over of the day, signalling that England won't have it all their own way as they attempt to build a match-winning lead.
Giles struck two vital blows at Australia's top-order as two threatening partnerships were developing. Langer and Ricky Ponting had added 88 following the early loss of Matthew Hayden before Ponting top-edged a sweep to Michael Vaughan at short fine-leg.
Ponting was speeding along but Giles's leg-stump line began to frustrate him. When Vaughan held the catch there were a few gestures towards the media from Giles, following the criticism that he has taken in the lead-up to this Test.
Giles had further reason to celebrate when he broke the stand between Langer and Michael Clarke, which had begun to flourish in the hour after lunch. Clarke was getting into his stride, and showing the range of strokes that he unfurled during his 91 at Lord's, while the England attack concentrated on containment. Giles, though, stuck to his plans and was rewarded when Clarke got an edge to a quicker ball and Geraint Jones clung on to a sharp chance - a confidence boost for Jones and more joy for Giles.
Sandwiched between Giles's two wickets was the other key moment of the day - and it came at the perfect time for England, on the stroke of lunch. Damien Martyn opened his account with a flurry of boundaries and had made a decent start when his dismissal was down purely to an outstanding piece of fielding. Vaughan swooped on the ball from mid-on and, quickly realising that Martyn was the batsman struggling to reach his ground, he swivelled and threw down the stumps with Martyn an inch out.
England were buoyant after another manic morning where the run rate had approached the heady heights of yesterday. The action was relentless, from the beginning when Hayden spooned a catch to Strauss from Matthew Hoggard's first ball to the end, with Martyn's run-out.
Both sides took stock after the interval, although runs still ticked over at four an over. Langer and Clarke set about some watchful consolidation, with Langer reaching his half-century from 94 balls - pedestrian compared to what has gone before.
But Clarke's dismissal was rapidly followed by Simon Katich. Flintoff moved into his round-the-wicket mode and troubled him with a testing line, before changing back over the wicket and inducing Katich to edge through to Jones. With Adam Gilchrist striding out to face his nemesis, England sensed an opening.
Gilchrist survived his latest trial by Flintoff and Vaughan turned to his wildcard - Simon Jones - to get the breakthrough. Jones is at his most effective went he gets the ball to reverse-swing and here he got it to go both ways, then produced a spot-on yorker to trap Langer. Australia's tail was now exposed although Gilchrist was still looming large at the crease.
Warne may still be able to produce magic with the ball, but his batting - once a useful addition - has lost its sparkle. Two centuries for Hampshire in the County Championship is one thing, but he wasn't face 85mph outswingers and bouncers there. Jones gave him a thorough working-over and Giles reaped the benefits as Warne played an ungainly heave across the line. It was been widely said that Giles is no Warne - but he had got the better of him in this private battle.
Brett Lee, too, has not been the quickest to get into line against England's pace attack and by now Jones was getting the ball to swing round corners. One tough chance was put down by Flintoff at second slip, but he made no mistake with the second offering. As threatening as Gilchrist was, standing at the other end, he was rapidly running out of partners.
The crowd - and the England team - waited for Gilchrist to let fly but he showed absolute trust in Jason Gillespie. There was no reason not to, given Gillespie's history of staunch innings but half-an-hour of Gilchrist shot-making would have narrowed the deficit considerably.
After 37 balls of solid defence Flintoff speared in a 90mph yorker into Gillespie's boot, although there was hint of it missing leg, before repeating the dose to Michael Kasprowicz. This time there was no doubt - the batsman could have walked - and England went through a round of back-slapping and high-fiving at a job well done.
However, there was still time for a final chapter in another absorbing day. Faced with a final 35 minutes, Strauss and Marcus Trescothick began with an array of boundaries, signalling the same intent as they had in the first innings. Warne, though, has a habit of producing something in the final over of a day. After discussing the fielding with Ponting for an eternity he delivered a leg-break even more astounding than Strauss's first-innings dismissal. Strauss looked stunned, Australia joyous at the thought of a lifeline.
England will certainly have been grateful that the ICC regulations meant play had to finish at 6pm - another five overs would not have been easy. It may have been a day of defiance from Giles but another spinner may yet have a say on how this match pans out.
Matthew Hayden c Strauss b Hoggard 0 (0 for 1)
Drove to short extra-over
Ricky Ponting c Vaughan b Giles 61 (88 for 2)
Top edge sweep to short fine-leg
Damien Martyn run out (Vaughan) 20 (118 for 3)
Run out by direct hit from mid-on
Michael Clarke c G Jones b Giles 40 (194 for 4)
Thin edge to a quicker ball
Simon Katich c G Jones b Flintoff 4 (208 for 5)
Angled across, thin edge to keeper
Justin Langer lbw b S Jones 82 (262 for 6)
Trapped by an inswinging yorker
Shane Warne b Giles 8 (273 for 7)
Ugly swipe across the line
Brett Lee c Flintoff b S Jones 6 (282 for 8)
Edged outswinger to second slip
Jason Gillespie lbw b Flintoff 7 (308 for 9)
Fast inswinging yorker that may have missed leg
Michael Kasprowicz lbw b Flintoff 0 (308 all out)
Another yorker, no doubt this time
Andrew Strauss b Warne 6 (25 for 1)
Wicked side-spin, spat out of rough, hit middle behind legs
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo