Warne lines 'em up, and Australia's grind
On a pitch still playing true, a target of 129 should have been fairly easy pickings for an in-form England batting line-up. However, it proved to be anything but that, thanks primarily to Shane Warne's amazingly skllful bowling and Brett Lee's pace and heart. Warne, especially, relished the opportunity to bowl in the fourth innings of a match, putting on show his entire range of wizardry, and with exceptional control, too. The graphic below shows just how well he varied his line of attack - sometimes teasing the batsman outside off, sometimes trying to exploit the rough outside leg, and sometimes bowling it straight at the stumps to win an lbw. He varied his line magnificently, all the while showing exceptional control over his length - 60 out of his 83 deliveries pitched on a good length.
Earlier, two Australian batsmen offered them some hope with a display quite uncharacteristic of Australians. Give their batsmen 48 overs, and you'd normally expect them to score in the vicinity of 200 runs. Simon Katich and Michael Clarke, however, managed exactly half that many in a gritty performance. England's bowlers were so accurate, and the situation so dire, that defence was the only option for the two. The graphic indicates just how much of a struggle run-scoring was for them - out of the 136 balls Katich faced during the stand, 110 were defended or left alone, while for Clarke those figures were 123 out of 159. In the morning session, Australia scored 48 runs in 29 overs - that's 1.65 runs per over.
All the England bowlers were difficult to get away, but Andrew Flintoff was the meanest of the lot: off 64 deliveries, he conceded just 12 to the two batsmen. The bowler who went for the most runs was Ashley Giles, who conceded 37 from 84. While Clarke and Katich found run-scoring extremely arduous, it wasn't as if they gave the bowlers many opportunities to dismiss them: Katich's in-control percentage (the number of deliveries middled or left alone) was 86.8, while Clarke's was 84.3. More of such discipline from the rest of the line-up, and the Ashes might yet not be a lost cause for Ricky Ponting and his troops.