Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day January 4, 2011

England hold the edge despite Johnson's efforts

38

England 3 for 167 (Cook 61*, Anderson 1*) trail Australia 280 (Johnson 53, Anderson 4-66) by 113 runs
Scorecard

Mitchell Johnson did his best to keep Australia alive in the final Ashes Test with a vital half-century and two key wickets on an absorbing day, but England were handily placed on 3 for 167 in reply to 280. Andrew Strauss hit a sparkling 58-ball 60 to launch England's reply following Johnson's counterattacking 53, then Alastair Cook maintained his prolific form only to lose Kevin Pietersen shortly before the close.

Strauss and Jonathan Trott fell in quick succession to leave England 2 for 99 and memories of Perth, where Johnson had sparked a dramatic England collapse, were not far away. Cook should have become Michael Beer's first Test wicket on 46, but the delivery was called no-ball after Billy Bowden asked to check the front line when Cook lofted to mid-on. However, to Beer's huge credit he remained focused on the game and was able to steady himself under Pietersen's hook shot at fine leg in what could prove a pivotal wicket.

Australia were struggling to make 200 before Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus combined to add 76 for the ninth wicket but their momentum was eroded as Strauss raced out of the blocks against some shoddy bowling. Hilfenhaus was especially disappointing, dropping short at a friendly pace to allow Strauss free pull shots one of which cleared deep square-leg for six

Michael Clarke made an early mark as captain when he handed Johnson the new ball for the first time since the Lord's Test in 2009, but his opening spell lasted three overs, during which he was cut by both batsmen, and Strauss was motoring along at more than a run-a-ball in a perfect tone-setting display. The England captain also drove with authority, a sign his game is in top order, as Clarke began to realise the challenges of captaincy in the current Australian era.

Strauss went to fifty shortly after tea when he scythed a cut over the slips but Hilfenhaus provided relief for Australia when he went round the wicket and took off stump with one that shaped away from the left hander. That breakthrough sparked a lift in Australia's bowling and Trott fell for his first Test duck when he dragged Johnson into his stumps.

Cook had trailed in Strauss's wake during the opening partnership but oozed the confidence that over 600 runs in the series has brought him. His fifty came from 113 balls and when he'd made 59 reached 5000 for his career with the promise of plenty more to come.

Beer's first ball in Test cricket was dispatched by Pietersen, but despite the sickening disappointing of seeing a wicket denied he held himself together well. Pietersen had taken a blow on the arm early in his innings, yet was desperate to impose himself and couldn't resist taking on Johnson despite the close being four overs away which left James Anderson to survive a late bombardment.

Despite the two periods where runs flowed from Australia's tail and England's openers it wasn't easy when bowlers maintained consistency which is what the visitors did superbly for the first two hours. Brad Haddin set a poor tone for the home side in the fourth over of the day when he played a flat-footed waft outside off against Anderson, which wasn't the best way to start his stint at No.6. There was still life on offer in the pitch for the pacemen and both Mike Hussey and Steve Smith had to concentrate on defence.

After his double failure in Melbourne, Hussey was again looking solid but at no point did he get away from England as he had in Brisbane and Perth. Even taking into account bowler-friendly conditions and a sluggish outfield which kept boundaries to a minimum it was tough going by Australia. Paul Collingwood then claimed one of the biggest wickets of his Test career when a tight over to Hussey was rewarded with an inside edge into the pads and onto the stumps.

More galling for Hussey was that the strike came with the last delivery before the new ball and Collingwood was promptly removed from the attack. Smith had played against his natural instincts but couldn't resist flashing a drive at Anderson which went straight to third slip and it took just four balls to work over Peter Siddle who edged low to Strauss.

Johnson drove the ball as sweetly as anyone and Strauss was too quick to set his men back which conceded the advantage to a No. 8 in favourable bowling conditions. Hilfenhaus played his part, flicking Tim Bresnan over midwicket for six, and Johnson was happy to milk the deep-set field to give his partner the strike.

Johnson cut loose early in the afternoon as he launched Graeme Swann over midwicket for four followed by six then brought up his fifty with a nudge into the leg side which was greeted by huge roars. Bresnan broke through when Johnson missed an expansive drive and Anderson removed Hilfenhaus for his fourth wicket and 21st scalp of the series. However, those late-order runs could yet prove a vital factor in the final outcome.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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  • on January 4, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    it was a no ball. i'm not doubting that. but billy i am only here to get my head on tv bowden. knew it was a no ball and he should have called it straight away. the clown bowden is losing the plot

  • StMarkW on January 4, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    Looking forward to seeing how the days cricket turns in a, so far, well contested match, I agree England currently have their nose in front.

    @landl47 Completely agree, ever close decision should be referred for review by umpires.

    @stationmaster Its an English conspiracy to make the Australians think he's slower than he is. Or, is it an Australian conspiracy to make the English think Bollinger and Siddle are quicker than they are. lol.

  • phoenixsteve on January 4, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    @CliveDunn... stop your whining mate. Don't you know that Gods an Englishman? The main reason Aussies have been losing is 1) They're not playing well 2) England have been playing well and 3) the UDRS makes sure the decisions are sound! It's probably worth blaming those rotten English for underhand things; like scoring hundreds, holding catches and taking lots of helpless Aussie wickets too....... Hey Australia your reign of supremecy is OVER... welcome to the exciting world of test cricket and get used to losing! There's no shame in it! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Silloh on January 4, 2011, 21:17 GMT

    Mitch Johnson, Watson and Hussey are true Australian cricketers to the bone ! Without their grit and determination in this series , the English team would have won comfortably.For once Strauss appeared to be defensive when he should have been attacking, but his positive leadership qualitity in his batting approach is certainly bringing the best out of the English batting line up. Michael Clarke is capable of such and must also lead from the front.Evenly balanced test, but Johnson and Clarke's performances over the next couple days will make the difference.

  • cricPassion2009 on January 4, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    England will be mistaken if they think they have an edge. Aus will do everything possible to win this game and they are capable of doing it. Watch out for an epic close finish.

  • stationmaster on January 4, 2011, 20:51 GMT

    Can anyone tell me why Bresnan is listed (on the TV) as being Medium fast, when Bollinger and Siddle are fast medium - if you look at the average balls speeds, Bresnan is as fast as both of them, often faster - so can anyone explain ?

  • on January 4, 2011, 20:08 GMT

    How do spinners bowl no balls???????????????????????

  • MTA82 on January 4, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    GOOD luck Usman Khawaja in the second inng :)

  • landl47 on January 4, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    @RJHB: I couldn't disagree with you more. EVERY dismissal should be reviewed, not only for a no-ball, but also in case there was anything else the umpires missed. It's ridiculous to have a batsman walking off while the TV audience sees a replay showing he wasn't out. I'd also have the umpires (not the players) calling for a review of any decision they think is close even if they would have given it not out. They already do this routinely for run outs and often for low catches (even though the technology is least reliable for judging whether a catch carried). They should also do it for lbws, where the technology is almost always right. The only way we could ever go back to the days when the umpire's decision was final is to stop having TV replays. Anyone think that's going to happen? Nor do I.

  • Biggus on January 4, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    We should lay off the umpires. Anyone who has done it knows how difficult it is, and I can only imagine with horror how much worse it must be if your decisions are dissected ad infinitum through endless slow motion replays. They should have access to the same technology to confirm or check their decisions that we have to analyse them, or ultimately their position will become untenable. @vichan-Actually the line is about 5cm/2in wide, about 5 times as wide as you say. It was, however, clearly a no-ball. @Garp-The heel does not have to be grounded. A vertical line drawn from the end of the heel would have to hit the pitch behind the white line.

  • on January 4, 2011, 23:13 GMT

    it was a no ball. i'm not doubting that. but billy i am only here to get my head on tv bowden. knew it was a no ball and he should have called it straight away. the clown bowden is losing the plot

  • StMarkW on January 4, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    Looking forward to seeing how the days cricket turns in a, so far, well contested match, I agree England currently have their nose in front.

    @landl47 Completely agree, ever close decision should be referred for review by umpires.

    @stationmaster Its an English conspiracy to make the Australians think he's slower than he is. Or, is it an Australian conspiracy to make the English think Bollinger and Siddle are quicker than they are. lol.

  • phoenixsteve on January 4, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    @CliveDunn... stop your whining mate. Don't you know that Gods an Englishman? The main reason Aussies have been losing is 1) They're not playing well 2) England have been playing well and 3) the UDRS makes sure the decisions are sound! It's probably worth blaming those rotten English for underhand things; like scoring hundreds, holding catches and taking lots of helpless Aussie wickets too....... Hey Australia your reign of supremecy is OVER... welcome to the exciting world of test cricket and get used to losing! There's no shame in it! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Silloh on January 4, 2011, 21:17 GMT

    Mitch Johnson, Watson and Hussey are true Australian cricketers to the bone ! Without their grit and determination in this series , the English team would have won comfortably.For once Strauss appeared to be defensive when he should have been attacking, but his positive leadership qualitity in his batting approach is certainly bringing the best out of the English batting line up. Michael Clarke is capable of such and must also lead from the front.Evenly balanced test, but Johnson and Clarke's performances over the next couple days will make the difference.

  • cricPassion2009 on January 4, 2011, 20:58 GMT

    England will be mistaken if they think they have an edge. Aus will do everything possible to win this game and they are capable of doing it. Watch out for an epic close finish.

  • stationmaster on January 4, 2011, 20:51 GMT

    Can anyone tell me why Bresnan is listed (on the TV) as being Medium fast, when Bollinger and Siddle are fast medium - if you look at the average balls speeds, Bresnan is as fast as both of them, often faster - so can anyone explain ?

  • on January 4, 2011, 20:08 GMT

    How do spinners bowl no balls???????????????????????

  • MTA82 on January 4, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    GOOD luck Usman Khawaja in the second inng :)

  • landl47 on January 4, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    @RJHB: I couldn't disagree with you more. EVERY dismissal should be reviewed, not only for a no-ball, but also in case there was anything else the umpires missed. It's ridiculous to have a batsman walking off while the TV audience sees a replay showing he wasn't out. I'd also have the umpires (not the players) calling for a review of any decision they think is close even if they would have given it not out. They already do this routinely for run outs and often for low catches (even though the technology is least reliable for judging whether a catch carried). They should also do it for lbws, where the technology is almost always right. The only way we could ever go back to the days when the umpire's decision was final is to stop having TV replays. Anyone think that's going to happen? Nor do I.

  • Biggus on January 4, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    We should lay off the umpires. Anyone who has done it knows how difficult it is, and I can only imagine with horror how much worse it must be if your decisions are dissected ad infinitum through endless slow motion replays. They should have access to the same technology to confirm or check their decisions that we have to analyse them, or ultimately their position will become untenable. @vichan-Actually the line is about 5cm/2in wide, about 5 times as wide as you say. It was, however, clearly a no-ball. @Garp-The heel does not have to be grounded. A vertical line drawn from the end of the heel would have to hit the pitch behind the white line.

  • 5wombats on January 4, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    @goodhoot; when Khawaja looks at the shot he got himself out with on replays - won't be calling it "wisdom". England have a slight edge - but won't have if they lose 2 or 3 wickets in the first session Day 3....

  • Clive_Dunn on January 4, 2011, 16:56 GMT

    List of things that have gone against Australia this series and are the reason for them losing - 1) The Umpires disgustingly calling no-balls when in fact they were no-balls ! 2) The Umpires refusing to review when Australian wickets fell to obviously legitimate deliveries ! 3) The Weather - everytime the Australians got themselves out for another low score the cloud cover disappeared as if by magic. 4) The Selectors being conned into thinking Steve Smith was actually Agent Smith from the Matrix movies. 5) Mitchell Johnsons evil ( and English ) twin brother secretly replacing him for most of the series. The Evil Twin doesn't play cricket. See, nothing to do with inferior bowling and batting.

  • phoenixsteve on January 4, 2011, 16:37 GMT

    Tactical blemishes by capt Strauss which have been very uncharacteristic. England seem to be in control though and another big ton from Cook and another from Bell and/or Colly should see us with a 250 lead! Worst case scenario; scores about level and then we'll see what capt Pup is made of! Can't understand the reasonaing behind JoeYates and questioning TV umpire decisions? I guess it's an Aussie thing - if they're not winning their whining! Over the line is a no ball - is a no ball. You can't have a liitle bit of a no ball - anymore than my wife can be a little bit pregnant! Day 3 is going to be fascinating, England can set up a strong victory or could keep us all on tenderhooks by not making 300? I'm for Belly getting his Ashes hundred and Colly coming alive too! But then I would be..... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • SprinklerSam on January 4, 2011, 16:11 GMT

    Clutching at straws Joe Yeats...

  • rabsusa on January 4, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    heres what aussies need to do to remain competative:-

    1. ditch Ponting as captain - as much as he wants to play on, he s got to admit the truth that by sticking around any longer he damaging aussie cricket. 2. Promote Khawaja to open the innings with Watson. 3. Drop Hughes for good, hes the only batsman i ever seen at this level who cant play a ball off his leggs - comon, thats our bread n butter shot! he cant make it at test level. 4. Drop Smith for good, bits n pieces cricketers are never any good at test level, we seen that over n over - this guy is def not test level - a county cricketer at best. 5. Bolster middle order with the likes of Cameron White. 6. Rotation of fast bowlers similar to England squad. 7. Summon Nathan Horitz with Beer as backup

    With kind of squad aussies might give us a better game!

    this from a England supporter - peace!

  • gsrinv16 on January 4, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    Australian Selectors should try to get Andrew Symonds back to the Test,ODI and T20. He could definetty had a tremendos impact in this ashes with his Bat and Fielding abilities.His talent and benchmark is quite higher than most of the players in current australian side.Kudos Johnson for showing fighting charater in this test with both Bat and ball...

  • vichan on January 4, 2011, 14:35 GMT

    @Joe Yates "Even on that angle, Beer's foot was at one time apparently very close to the edge of the line. With the error created by the camera angle, there was a real possibility that even half a millimetre of Beer's foot was behind the line": Actually, the line is about 10 millimetres thick and the no ball rule says that some part of the foot must be behind this. So if, instead of being close to the edge of the line, Beer's foot was actually "half a millimetre" behind it, as you have described it, it still means that ball would have been 9.5mm from being a legal delivery.

  • Garp on January 4, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    to Joe, Beers delivery was a no ball, get over it, the rules clearly state that some part of the foot has to be grounded behind the line and there was no part of his foot anywhere close to being behind the line. In actuality Beer bowled about 4 no balls in that over, he is lucky that only that one was called or his confidence would of been destroyed.

  • Tybalt on January 4, 2011, 13:19 GMT

    Joe, what parallax error? The line is quite visible directly under the foot. Parallax would be a relevant consideration where the two objects are not exactly the same distance from the camera. Not here.

  • Bingoe on January 4, 2011, 13:17 GMT

    To Joe Yates, the bowlers heel doesn't have to be grounded - so long as some part of the bowlers foot is behind the line (grounded or in the air) the delivery would be legitimate. Yoiu'll find most finger spinners are bowling off their toes and never ground their heel.

  • goodhoot on January 4, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    Very annoyed by our batsmen again,get a start,get suckered by the bowlers for the how manyth time?They setting you up boys,and you keep falling for it.Only Kawaja showed wisdom not to get drawn in and have a waft outside off,so like Hughes,Clarke,then Watson.Can anyone else see this weakness the Australian players have?

  • on January 4, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    Does anyone else think that the no-ball referral against Beer was actually much closer than everyone seems to realise? There are two important points to consider. [1] Beer's heel never grounded, but perhaps more importantly [2] the angle of the camera to the popping crease (where the front foot landed). On the replay that was used to overturn Cook's dismissal, the camera was directly in line with the bowling crease (where the stumps are). This means that we were looking slightly down on Beer's foot, creating a parallax error. Even on that angle, Beer's foot was at one time apparently very close to the edge of the line. With the error created by the camera angle, there was a real possibility that even half a millimetre of Beer's foot was behind the line, meaning that there probably wasn't sufficient evidence to overturn Cook's dismissal. Billy's theatrics and 2D replays have done it again.

  • on January 4, 2011, 12:09 GMT

    Does anyone else think that the no-ball referral against Beer was actually much closer than everyone seems to realise? There are two important points to consider. [1] Beer's heel never grounded, but perhaps more importantly [2] the angle of the camera to the popping crease (where the front foot landed). On the replay that was used to overturn Cook's dismissal, the camera was directly in line with the bowling crease (where the stumps are). This means that we were looking slightly down on Beer's foot, creating a parallax error. Even on that angle, Beer's foot was at one time apparently very close to the edge of the line. With the error created by the camera angle, there was a real possibility that even half a millimetre of Beer's foot was behind the line, meaning that there probably wasn't sufficient evidence to overturn Cook's dismissal. Billy's theatrics and 2D replays have done it again.

  • on January 4, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    England only really hold the edge as they're 167-3, 113 runs behind Australia's first innings total of 280. Other than that, I'd say the Test Match is finely poised. The third day will be the most crucial day, and whatever happens during those three sessions will shape up the rest of this Test Match. England have depth in their batting as Anderson is the Night Watchman (therefore they can bat down to 10, though Tremlett is no mug with the bat) so there's every chance England could get a first innings lead of 150-250 (they'd do well to reach 500 all out), and then Days 4/5 the pitch will turn giving assistance to Swann. Australia don't necessarily hold the advantage although the extra 50 runs from Johnson certainly helped their cause.

    We'll find out where the momentum lies after day three, but it's very finely poised at the moment. Great for Test Cricket.

  • on January 4, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    Strauss let the Aussies off the hook. Not sure why he changed the field. Let Mitch and Hilfenhaus rotate the strike, gain confidence, play shots and get a good total. The Aussie quicks were poor. Too short and not patient enough. Dry Cook up the way England did to us. Bowl full and invite him to drive if he wants to score. At least make him score in areas where he isn't so comfortable. Beer was much better than Doherty, though Hauritz should be there. Beer had nice flight and got good turn and bounce for a finger spinner on a day 2 pitch. The field was good for him though someone should be under his nose on either side applying some pressure and being there if he gets some extra bounce which he is likely to with his height. England are in front but if the quicks bowl full tomorrow they can limit the deficit the Aussies batters need to knock-off. Clarke shouldn't be afraid of using Smith either.

  • 5wombats on January 4, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    With Aus batsmen self-destructing again through poor shot-selection and at 198/8 I was seriously unimpressed to see Johnson/ Hilf get away. I hope to God that 50 extra runs doesn't spoil the tour for England. Desperate to see KP go like that in a situation like that near the end of an otherwise good day for England. Typical Pietersen. Trott was due a 0. Aus 280 is only disappointing because they were 198/8 and I think Eng would have taken Aus 280 if offered at the toss. Pitch starting to play tricks too. But look at it like this; England had 1 bad hour with the ball (and field placings......), Australia still have to take 17 Wickets to win this match - and their bowling comes and goes. Bell is due an Ashes hundred and Collingwood is due full-stop. Prior is in form, Bresnan can bat and Swann is decent. England don't deserve to lose this match on the basis of one dodgy hour of bowling. Day 3 will decide how this is going to go I feel.

  • philsil on January 4, 2011, 11:29 GMT

    I reckon skipper Strauss played for time. He and the Chef then hit the ground running with a pitch just that bit more worn flat.

  • on January 4, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    280 is a decent toatl for Australua to amass in their first innings, I thought that England and especially Strauss let the Australian tail wag for too long, with some strange captaincy. But on what seems to be a placid Sydney wicket I don't think getting past the 280 defecit and scoring more should not give England any problems. The only downfall of England today was their attitude towards Johnson once again, who always seems to be more confident with the ball when he scores some big runs, I felt that Trott was a little unlcuky playing on but his form throughout the series has been impressive so I'm thinking he will have a decent knock in the second innings if needed. All in all England have played the best cricket so far and Strauss should be applauded for his control of the team. Australia have looked out of place except for Perth but still this final match should see if Australia can lick their wounds and become strong once again. My prediction is England will win the match!

  • stormy16 on January 4, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    Day 2 and the game is same as end of day 1 - even. Aus did well to get to 280 but again showing big holes in the batting. 3 vital wickets lost for Eng and all to look forward on day 3. I reckon Eng will be looking for 350 atleast to take a grip while Aus should be happy if they can bowl out Eng for anything under 320.

  • trumpoz on January 4, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    An interesting days play. Strauss dropped the ball by being almost as defensive as Ponting when Johnston got a couple in the middle. I like the look of Beer, happy to throw it up there and is getting some turn as well. Would like to see if he has a good arm-ball and one that skids as well. Endland are really going to need at least 350 to be ahead in this game. Chasing any more than 200 in the 4th innings is going to be difficult. Hopefully we will get a nail-biter on for the final test and the Aussies level at 2/2 *crosses fingers*

  • ell_bee on January 4, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Bugger! Here I was being critical of the Aussie selectors for picking batmen that cant bat ( Clarke, Ponting) and bowlers that cant get wickets (Hilfenhaus). I did not realise that the plot to confuse the old MCC is to pick bowlers to bat. So who's going to bowl - Haddin?

  • RJHB on January 4, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    Can't believe another wicket has been denied to Australia on the umpire second guessing himself with a no-ball call. This is opening a whole can of worms where one day every single decision will have to be video reviewed to check for no-ball. The fact that the first decision ultimately proved correct and the second close and questionable has nothing to do with the fact that the umpires this series have moved cricket much closer to being an umpireless game with all decisions given with a green or red light. Interesting though that none of England's wickets have been reviewed and that Australia's two have followed Ponting's blew with umpire Dar! Not that i believe in conspiracies......much!!

  • on January 4, 2011, 9:53 GMT

    it was a breath of fresh air not to see Ponting scowling away with his little angry prune face today. If he never plays test cricket again I will not miss him in the slightest!

  • Herbet on January 4, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    I hope the 60 or so bonus runs we giften the tailenders hasn't lost us this test. Still plenty to be optimistic about though, Cook's in good touch, as are Bell and Prior and you'd think Collingwood would have to make some runs at some stage, he tends to when his position in the team is at risk. If we can get 400, which will be doable if the Aussie quicks start off tomorrow as wayward as they did today, then 3-1 is on.

  • on January 4, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Yeah the SCG gun (like many of them) is skewed. It had Anderson bowling the odd 93mph delivery. I've not seen him operate at that speed before. Tremlett didn't touch 88 but looked far quicker (probably the bouce). England may regret that 50 runs. But if they get a first innings lead of over 100 I think they should still win.

  • on January 4, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    Interesting to compare the 2 current matches at end day 2. Pitches similar, number of overs faced similar, yet England's deficit half of India's. The reason: positive batting. Aussie run rate awful again despite my namesake's hits. Oh, and I agree with MPV: KP will never be a great because he does such brainless things!

  • Biggus on January 4, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    Another fascinating day of test cricket. I felt England dropped the ball a tad to let Oz get to 280 and for my money Strauss was too quick to go on the defensive, which was always an issue I had with Waugh and Ponting's captaincy. If England are to become a major power over the next few years I'd like to see him change that. Our wastage of the new ball was criminal and proved once again that one shouldn't give it to Mitch, but both of the openers tried too hard instead of observing the basics and were duly punished for that lapse. Michael Beer was perhaps the best of the bowlers and has much more about him than Doherty, who's lack of flight doomed his efforts. He gets good loop, turn and bounce and I've seen far worse at test level, so I'm cautiously pleased on that score. If we can set England say, 250 to score on the last day he should be quite useful. A pretty even day, with honours slightly in England's favour, but not by much. Hoping for a riveting last day whatever the result.

  • landl47 on January 4, 2011, 7:27 GMT

    I've been a great supporter of Strauss's captaincy, but I think he lost the plot today. After pressure had worked so well in restricting Australia to 189-8, to offer Johnson free runs changed the whole atmosphere of the game. Instead of making 220-230 Australia made 280 and with the pitch showing signs of wear England are going to need all the runs they can get in the first innings. Then after a good opening partnership again, England played another couple of bad shots to balls well off the stumps from Johnson to gift him 2 wickets. Johnson did bowl quick (though I think the SCG radar gun is over by 4/5 kph), but if you leave the bad balls he's fairly harmless. Strauss got a beauty from Hilf, though. Beer bowled pretty well and it's a pity he overstepped when he got Cook to give a catch, but there's no halfway for ladies in this game. There's no reason at all for a slow bowler to bowl no-balls. The game's fairly even- if only England hadn't given away that extra 50 runs.

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  • landl47 on January 4, 2011, 7:27 GMT

    I've been a great supporter of Strauss's captaincy, but I think he lost the plot today. After pressure had worked so well in restricting Australia to 189-8, to offer Johnson free runs changed the whole atmosphere of the game. Instead of making 220-230 Australia made 280 and with the pitch showing signs of wear England are going to need all the runs they can get in the first innings. Then after a good opening partnership again, England played another couple of bad shots to balls well off the stumps from Johnson to gift him 2 wickets. Johnson did bowl quick (though I think the SCG radar gun is over by 4/5 kph), but if you leave the bad balls he's fairly harmless. Strauss got a beauty from Hilf, though. Beer bowled pretty well and it's a pity he overstepped when he got Cook to give a catch, but there's no halfway for ladies in this game. There's no reason at all for a slow bowler to bowl no-balls. The game's fairly even- if only England hadn't given away that extra 50 runs.

  • Biggus on January 4, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    Another fascinating day of test cricket. I felt England dropped the ball a tad to let Oz get to 280 and for my money Strauss was too quick to go on the defensive, which was always an issue I had with Waugh and Ponting's captaincy. If England are to become a major power over the next few years I'd like to see him change that. Our wastage of the new ball was criminal and proved once again that one shouldn't give it to Mitch, but both of the openers tried too hard instead of observing the basics and were duly punished for that lapse. Michael Beer was perhaps the best of the bowlers and has much more about him than Doherty, who's lack of flight doomed his efforts. He gets good loop, turn and bounce and I've seen far worse at test level, so I'm cautiously pleased on that score. If we can set England say, 250 to score on the last day he should be quite useful. A pretty even day, with honours slightly in England's favour, but not by much. Hoping for a riveting last day whatever the result.

  • on January 4, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    Interesting to compare the 2 current matches at end day 2. Pitches similar, number of overs faced similar, yet England's deficit half of India's. The reason: positive batting. Aussie run rate awful again despite my namesake's hits. Oh, and I agree with MPV: KP will never be a great because he does such brainless things!

  • on January 4, 2011, 9:33 GMT

    Yeah the SCG gun (like many of them) is skewed. It had Anderson bowling the odd 93mph delivery. I've not seen him operate at that speed before. Tremlett didn't touch 88 but looked far quicker (probably the bouce). England may regret that 50 runs. But if they get a first innings lead of over 100 I think they should still win.

  • Herbet on January 4, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    I hope the 60 or so bonus runs we giften the tailenders hasn't lost us this test. Still plenty to be optimistic about though, Cook's in good touch, as are Bell and Prior and you'd think Collingwood would have to make some runs at some stage, he tends to when his position in the team is at risk. If we can get 400, which will be doable if the Aussie quicks start off tomorrow as wayward as they did today, then 3-1 is on.

  • on January 4, 2011, 9:53 GMT

    it was a breath of fresh air not to see Ponting scowling away with his little angry prune face today. If he never plays test cricket again I will not miss him in the slightest!

  • RJHB on January 4, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    Can't believe another wicket has been denied to Australia on the umpire second guessing himself with a no-ball call. This is opening a whole can of worms where one day every single decision will have to be video reviewed to check for no-ball. The fact that the first decision ultimately proved correct and the second close and questionable has nothing to do with the fact that the umpires this series have moved cricket much closer to being an umpireless game with all decisions given with a green or red light. Interesting though that none of England's wickets have been reviewed and that Australia's two have followed Ponting's blew with umpire Dar! Not that i believe in conspiracies......much!!

  • ell_bee on January 4, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Bugger! Here I was being critical of the Aussie selectors for picking batmen that cant bat ( Clarke, Ponting) and bowlers that cant get wickets (Hilfenhaus). I did not realise that the plot to confuse the old MCC is to pick bowlers to bat. So who's going to bowl - Haddin?

  • trumpoz on January 4, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    An interesting days play. Strauss dropped the ball by being almost as defensive as Ponting when Johnston got a couple in the middle. I like the look of Beer, happy to throw it up there and is getting some turn as well. Would like to see if he has a good arm-ball and one that skids as well. Endland are really going to need at least 350 to be ahead in this game. Chasing any more than 200 in the 4th innings is going to be difficult. Hopefully we will get a nail-biter on for the final test and the Aussies level at 2/2 *crosses fingers*

  • stormy16 on January 4, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    Day 2 and the game is same as end of day 1 - even. Aus did well to get to 280 but again showing big holes in the batting. 3 vital wickets lost for Eng and all to look forward on day 3. I reckon Eng will be looking for 350 atleast to take a grip while Aus should be happy if they can bowl out Eng for anything under 320.