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Peter English at Lord's
July 18, 2009
Nathan Hauritz ignored a badly bruised middle finger to dismantle England's top order but his brave performance was not enough to stop Australia from needing a monumental effort to save the second Test. Hauritz, who suffered a dislocation on Thursday, felt few signs of discomfort in taking the first three wickets before tiring late in the day as the hosts sped towards a lead of 521.
He now has nine victims, the same number as Ben Hilfenhaus, to lead Australia in the series, a result which was unthinkable two weeks ago when Hauritz was battling for control and Brett Lee was still fit. After coming from the fringes of the New South Wales squad in 2008-09, he has developed to the point where he is now a threat even when not fully fit.
Given four overs either side of lunch after Australia were dismissed for 215 in reply to England's 425, he trapped Alastair Cook playing back to a ball that failed to spin. In his next over he removed Andrew Strauss, edging to first slip, and there was briefly some hope from the tourists that they might have an achievable chase.
Kevin Pietersen arrived, lifting Hauritz over midwicket for four, and Hilfenhaus was called immediately to replace the offspinner at the Nursery End. His figures read 4-1-12-2, but he had to wait until the third session for another opportunity.
A thoughtful player who captained youth teams growing up in Queensland, he was partly to blame for the decision. "I even suggested it to Ricky," he said. "Ben bowled the best out of our bowlers in the first innings and it was two right-handers and the ball was swinging. He looked like getting wickets pretty regularly and he bowled pretty tight." The plan didn't work and Hilfenhaus returned 0 for 59.
It didn't take Hauritz long to strike again when he was recalled, with Ravi Bopara bumping a catch to Simon Katich at short leg. Life became harder after that as Matt Prior and Paul Collingwood lifted the run-rate and Hauritz finished with 3 for 80 in 16 overs.
In the morning he felt surprisingly good considering the damage a Strauss straight drive caused on the opening day. "I definitely wouldn't have been able to bowl yesterday," he said. "I spent the past two nights icing. The hardest thing today was spreading my fingers along the ball.
"The middle finger takes a lot of the pressure, but once the adrenalin kicked in it became a lot easier. The only problem was the fingers did get tired really quickly because of the strength there." There was also pain when he misfielded a ball at square leg off Andrew Flintoff and his hand touched the ground forcefully.
Hauritz's other main moment of action had come when he lunged low at mid-on to scoop at a flimsy pull from Bopara. After picking up the ball, risking more damage to his finger as it was squeezed into the field, he threw it in the air, but neither the bowler Mitchell Johnson nor the umpires were convinced. The decision was referred to the Nigel Llong, the TV official, who ruled it not out due to the doubt created by the camera angles.
"I thought I caught it straight away," Hauritz said. "I said to Rudi, 'I caught it', and he went to refer it and said it was inconclusive. I didn't hear it hit the ground but the third umpire said it was inconclusive."
Australia's only realistic hope over the next two days is to bat out the match to achieve a draw. England will declare early on the fourth morning - they had hoped to close the innings before stumps today but the light deteriorated - and Hauritz insisted they still had a chance.
"We batted last week and scored over 600 in Cardiff," he said. "We obviously didn't bat as well as we would have liked in the first innings but that happens, that's cricket. Whatever it takes, we're going to have almost two days of batting. We just have to have a positive outlook and back our ability, that's what we have to do."
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