Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

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

Clarke makes a game out of it

Over 440 runs in a day that included a daring declaration, a dramatic chase, lovely weather, fading light, an anticlimax, a presentation, fireworks and champagne - not a bad way to end the Ashes

Jay Purohit

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Kumar Dharmasena and Aleem Dar try to appease an agitated Michael Clarke, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
Forget the booing, Michael Clarke was easily the hero of the day for his enterprising declaration © Getty Images
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Choice of game
No one wants to miss the Ashes, and this was my last chance this year. Truth be told I was convinced during my trip to the Oval that this was a dead game. Thankfully I was wrong - what a thriller.

Key performer
I think everyone would agree that today's key performer was Michael Clarke. Not for his run-a-ball, unbeaten 28, solid as it may have been. Clarke deserves this purely because of his aggressive declaration. This actually made a game of it, and the sell-out crowd was grateful, although the booing following the anticlimactic finish may not have made this apparent.

One thing I'd have changed about the day
The 30-minute delayed start due to the weather ultimately lead to the last four overs of the series not being bowled. Clearly the one thing I'd have changed would've been the weather before the start of play.

The interplay I enjoyed
The spinners' battle when Nathan Lyon bowled at Graeme Swann provided much entertainment. My shot of the day has to be Swanny's six off Lyon over long-off, clearing the boundary rope by some distance.

Wow moment
My wow moment was the first ball of Australia's innings. It was an accurate ball from James Anderson following his warm-up with David Saker, yet David Warner pierced the gap between Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen easily. It must also be said Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen's strokeplay was, as ever, a pleasure to witness.

Player watch
Being in block five I was positioned at point/midwicket. All of the bowlers wanted some protection around there to prevent leaking runs. The only autograph signed during play in our stand was by the England debutant Chris Woakes. The Aussies received their fair share of banter. The standard Warner jokes were hurled out, and at one point he responded with a grin and jokingly plugged his ears with his index fingers. Mitchell Starc was also popular in our section of the crowd, with a crowd chant of "He's just a better Mitchell Johnson".

Crowd meter
The morning session was notably quiet, but the place transformed by 5 PM. As the afternoon session progressed the crowd got notably louder and the moment the Aussie declaration was announced there was a huge roar, with everyone realising the prospect of a close contest. Some of the notable chants during the day were 'Aussie Aussie Aussie, Out Out Out!' and 'We love you KP, we do!' There was live music from the Barmy Army trumpeter, situated around the Peter May stand. One extremely loud roar came when Simon Kerrigan got off the mark which was nice to hear. I also noticed that once Anderson was dismissed he patted Kerrigan on the back as they crossed paths - a nice gesture. The loudest the crowd got was during the presentation.

Fancy dress index
The fancy dress was again on top form. The best I saw was two men wearing dresses with fluorescent coloured flowers on them. If I recall correctly Lyon cracked a smile when he saw these two men trying to grab his attention.

The entertainment was great by the Oval. In the morning there were free samples of Yorkshire tea and a live jazz band. With regard to other refreshments, a wine company had a promo going on which involved David Gower. Kia also had their own area in the ground where spectators got to race mini toy cars around a track using real-sized steering wheels. It was all a nice addition to a great day's play.

The quality of cricket today was at an extremely high level. It wasn't your standard day of Test cricket. The fact that the two teams tried to create a contest for the crowd and for themselves enhanced the experience for everyone. The presentation, the fireworks, the champagne celebrations and the victory lap by England made the day even better. It was the first time I'd seen an Ashes victory celebration live, and that alone made it a 10/10 experience for me.

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Jay Purohit is a 16 year-old student. As well as being a keen spectator of the game, he plays for his school's first XI (Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School) and for Radlett Cricket Club.

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Comments: 3 
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Posted by Travis on (August 31, 2013, 16:47 GMT)

Good article, particularly for a 16yo. I agree with Jay Purohit. It was a daring declaration by Clarke, and he should be commended for it. It amazes me that another poster has seen fit to call Clarke's actions "pathetic" when every man and his dog knows that if the situation was reversed Cook wouldn't have declared and made a game of it at all.

Posted by ESPN on (August 29, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

I think praising Clarke for this laughable because his declaration was a gamble that backfired and like a ferret he hounded the umpires over the light when he knew he was going to lose. He was pathetic. The ICC were the villains of the piece again. Inept, amoral, and self serving. The oversight of the game has become a farce. I pitied the umpires who were put in that position by Clarke and ICC.

Posted by Dummy4 on (August 27, 2013, 5:22 GMT)

I think none of them were wrong. Aleem want the result and other hand Clark dont want to loose the game. Clark was also 100 sure becuase the reading that Aleem take is bit late but dont forget the No 1 Umpire of the worl Kumar Dharmasena also beside Aleem. It was the mutual understanding of both the umpire and they were rite as well.

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