Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day December 14, 2013

England battle to keep Ashes alive


England 4 for 180 (Cook 72) trail Australia 385 (Smith 111, Warner 60, Broad 3-100) by 205 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Hard though they tried, Alastair Cook and England could not shake Australia in Perth, on an enthralling day that produced some of the most compelling cricket of the Ashes series so far.

Knowing one more batting capitulation would all but hand the Urn to the hosts, England fought bravely with the ball then the bat but by day's end maintained only a tenuous hold on a match they cannot afford to lose.

The tourists' fight was personified by their captain's innings, a calm, collected 72 by Cook that nonetheless fell short of the definitive tally he desired. His exit at the hands of Nathan Lyon followed a lively spell by Mitchell Johnson, who then made another critical contribution to the series by leaping at mid-on to catch Kevin Pietersen from the bowling of a revved up Peter Siddle.

Ian Bell and Ben Stokes survived to the close, but they still have an enormous task ahead to reach parity on a pitch showing signs of deterioration in addition to its high pace and sharp bounce.

Australia's bowlers have been drained by their efforts on another day of temperatures nudging 40C but they remained an admirably skilful and united ensemble as the shadows lengthened, giving the batsmen barely a moment's peace.

England's frustrations on a tour where little has gone right for them was epitomised by the exit of Joe Root, who was flabbergasted to be given out caught behind as hard won gains were eroded. Reviewing the decision immediately, Root was ultimately sent on his way after video evidence could not mount a strong enough case for Tony Hill to overrule the on-field call of Marais Erasmus, despite Hot Spot revealing no mark on Root's bat and Real-Time Snicko finding a noise only after ball had passed bat.

England's bowlers had rounded up Australia's tail for the addition of 59 runs from their overnight 6 for 326. Stuart Broad and James Anderson pursued a fuller length than that of the first day and were rewarded with a series of edges that either found the slips cordon or squeezed through gaps - few runs were found anywhere else.

Johnson was out to his second ball of the morning, snicking a beautifully pitched delivery from Broad that curved subtly in before seaming the other way and going through to Matt Prior. Steve Smith could add only eight to his overnight 103, getting the merest of inside edges to an Anderson ball that moved back at him.

Erasmus declined the appeal but the evidence of Hot Spot and Real-Time Snicko was enough for the decision to be reversed by Hill under the DRS. Smith walked off shaking his head. Harris and Siddle also perished to edges though not before he and Lyon added a pesky 31 for the last wicket.

Cook survived a difficult diving chance offered to Smith's left from Harris before lunch, and after it Carberry's skied pull shot that landed inches beyond the grasp of a sprinting Haddin. Gradually the England openers wrested the initiative, forcing Australia onto a less aggressive footing, bowling for maidens to slow the run rate.

But the tactic proved extremely effective. Carberry was becalmed and played Harris onto his stumps while trying to leave the first ball delivered from around the wicket. Root's debatable feather to Watson drew raucous celebrations from the Australian huddle, and it was the hosts who went to tea feeling happier about their afternoon's work.

Both sides recognised the importance of the evening session, England wrestling for a foothold, Australia straining equally hard to turn them back. Pietersen and Cook withstood some exceptional bowling by Siddle, Harris and Johnson on resumption, concerning themselves principally with survival in the hope that things would get easier.

In the unrelenting heat, Clarke had to rotate his bowlers frequently but they responded by maintaining discipline in a way that offered little respite to the batsmen. The importance of the moment was emphasised when Clarke actively encouraged the crowd to get behind the pacemen, drawing an extra spell of speed out of Johnson at a moment when Cook and Pietersen might have wriggled free.

The din of Australian spectators around the WACA was rewarded as Cook eventually succumbed when Lyon's extra bounce drew a top-edged cut shot that Warner held diving forward at point. Having contributed to Cook's departure, Johnson made way for Siddle, pursuing his favoured quarry, Pietersen.

Australia's planning to Pietersen has succeeded in corralling the most free-spirited of batsmen, and he again perished to Siddle. This time it was not the midwicket trap but a toe-ended pull to mid-on that did for him, Johnson leaping with wonderful athleticism to claim the catch. Siddle's celebration was all bared teeth and spinning eyeballs.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harmon on December 16, 2013, 9:18 GMT


    Your argument is sophistic.

    We were told that Snicko takes a lot of time in syncing the audio with the video so Real Time Snicko was given to us, to supposedly give us, in real time, audio & video all in sync. Now we are being told that sound travels slower than light but wasn't this the issue with the old Snicko?

    What you are essentially saying is that if this Real Time Snicko shows us a sound AFTER the ball has gone past the bat we should still take it as proof of an edge cos sound is slower than light !!!. Now will you please tell me how much time/distance is to be allocated for this margin? If this RTS can't sync sound what is its use?

    A more serious rebuttal is that sound is basically perception of pressure variation. A rotating ball & esp its rough seam causes a lot of pressure variation in the air. Juxtaposed to a bat coming from the opposite side, this becomes pronounced. Thus, snicko may show a sound for no edge, like the whooosh we hear from a whip.

  • Harmon on December 16, 2013, 9:02 GMT


    A lovely gem from you when you say that ... "We can't seem to be positive without being reckless."...


  • Brett on December 15, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    @unbiased-referee - Guess we can put up with it, having got used to boring and predictable comments such as yours. So there are back to back Ashes - get over it, everyone! The reasons have been explained often enough.

  • Parashu on December 15, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Surely ENG fans can take some solace in ENG crossing two major milestones in their first innings-crossing 200 and 250 marks for the first time in the series! Looking at ENG second-innings performance in the series so far, AUS will have to give them a target well in excess of 500 yet again, unless ENG get struck by law of averages. I am at a loss how fans from either side can cope with such a boring, one-sided series that can repeat itself as rapidly as six months!!!

  • Muhammad on December 15, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    now it's show time for aussie fans when kangroos come out to bat against the three lions

  • Hamish on December 15, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    Lolol England's best 1st innings performance this series sees them trail by 134 runs. Our first innings leads in this series: 159, 398, 134. How long was it now since Eng haven't passed 400?

    At the midway point of this #Ashes series:

    AUSTRALIA - 39/1783

    ENGLAND - 50/1050

    AUS - 45.7 runs per wicket ENG - 21.0 runs per wicket.

    In fact some saving grace for England, their tail did better this time! They added 22 runs for last 2 wickets. But, like so many other things in these ashes, we did better: 47 in 1st inns. I'm struggling to think how we could destroy England more comprehensively?

  • Android on December 15, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    shambolic performance from English lads downunder. Ian Botham was spot on with his 5-0 predictions. only thing he got wrong was the winning team. 5-0 very much a possibility after their limp response in 3rd game.

  • Android on December 15, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    Defensive/negative batting by the Bell/Stokes parternership has cost England. What would be the point of seeing out 50 overs, score 50 runs and then get out. You've neither defended nor given your side sufficient runs even if you did get out. Not to mention a lack of reflexes and feet movement because of the negative mindset. With zero pressure on Aus, they might as well have pressed the self destruct button.

  • Thomas on December 15, 2013, 2:58 GMT

    <Posted by strikeforce2003 on (December 14, 2013, 19:28 GMT) England will win at Perth> Just interested to find out what drugs you are using or are you in Perth and sitting in the sun without a hat on??!!

  • Murray on December 15, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    How good is Harris ? That stuff to Bell goes down in DK Lillee to VIV legends, doesn't it ?

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