England v Australia, 5th npower Test, The Oval, 2nd day

Strauss on song, Ponting not

Peter English at The Oval

August 21, 2009

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Stuart Broad congratulated for claiming the wicket of Shane Watson, England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 21, 2009
Strauss preferred Stuart Broad to Graeme Swann and reaped the benefits as he took five wickets in 47 deliveries © Getty Images
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Strauss in tune
Andrew Strauss's captaincy has been criticised during the series for being defensive and too slow to make changes. He couldn't be accused of that today. After the lunch/rain break he could have played safe and kept on Graeme Swann, who created danger before the interval with his offspin. Strauss preferred Stuart Broad and was rewarded with five wickets in 47 deliveries from the allrounder. Later in the session Strauss replaced James Anderson with Swann and watched him take two wickets in five balls - and four for the innings - as the tourists fell over for 160.

Ponting fails
The most crucial wicket was that of Ricky Ponting, a batsman who is usually at his best in the biggest contests. He never looked right today and was edgy and jerky in his movements. Broad sent a ball angling in, Ponting shifted back to play it, but it ran into his angled bat and on to the stumps. England couldn't believe their good fortune, and an over later Michael Hussey basically padded up to continue his slump.

Fred's farewell
It's been a tough two days for Andrew Flintoff, who was out for 7 on the opening afternoon and then went wicket-less in his first two spells. His knee remains a worry and he's desperate to make an impact in his final Test. Strauss brought Flintoff on with the final pair in and in his fifth over he yorked Ben Hilfenhaus, sending the already excited locals to their feet again.

Come in spinner. Oh, we didn't pick one
The pitch has offered significant turn and late in the day Marcus North was called for the 11th over of the innings. In his second he removed Alastair Cook with a ball that spun sharply on the way to Michael Clarke at slip. If this is what a part-time offie can do, what might the specialist Nathan Hauritz have done? He wasn't picked and the Australians are left to wonder.

The record stops
Anderson's lbw to Ben Hilfenhaus ended his streak of not being dismissed for zero. He had maintained the record through 54 Test innings, but that's where it stopped as he played back and was hit on the back leg in his 55th. There wasn't any doubt over the decision, but turtles have left the ground faster than the disappointed Anderson.

Fourth time lucky
While Anderson was given straight away, Shane Watson survived three huge appeals before England finally won an lbw decision against him. Anderson had the first shout with one coming back and in the next over Flintoff roared twice to similar deliveries. The opening two balls were heading slightly over the stumps, but the third was crashing into them. Not according to Asad Rauf. Finally, with Watson on 34, England broke through when Broad arrived and Billy Bowden raised his finger.

Nicked off
It was Australia's turn to feel aggrieved a few wickets later with Marcus North's lbw and Stuart Clark's caught. North was playing forward to Swann when he got an inside edge that wasn't spotted by Rauf. North was decent enough to smile, both at the appeal and the decision, rather than swear. Clark wasn't as good humoured, walking off with a lot of muttering in Rauf's direction after he was hit on the pad flap and taken at short leg. Cook, the catcher, was probably closer to the ball when it hit the batsman than the bat.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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