By Stephen Giles
- Australia leads by 362 with 10 wickets remaining, with two days remaining.
- Australia 566-8 declared and 108-0; England 312.
LONDON, UK – Australia tightened their grip on the 2nd Ashes Test at Lords with another dominant display, leading by 362 runs with two days still left to play.
Alastair Cook had earlier scored 96 and Ben Stokes 87 as the hosts made a commendable recovery from 30-4, but they were ultimately bowled-out for 312, still 254 runs behind.
Australian captain Michael Clarke then chose not to enforce the follow-on, as they closed day three on 108-0 to lead by 362 runs. With two full days remaining the tourists will fancy their chances of levelling the five-match series.
Resuming on 85-4, England began intensely with Cook alert and Stokes looking to push on. They added 90 cherished runs to their overnight score and had scarcely presented a chance to the Australians, who were now the team toiling in the sun.
Stokes reached his 50, off 167 balls with an exquisite four off Mitchell Johnson, much to the appreciation of the Lord’s crowd. The 100 partnership followed shortly after, with both men looking more self-assured out in the middle.
Cook was Mr patience personified as he passed his 50 off the bowling of Nathan Lyon as England took their score passed 150. A high-quality innings from the captain, who had stood firm while everyone around him had failed last night. In reaching his half-century, he had faced 167 balls and batted for well over four hours.
Yes, it was an outstanding session from the hosts, but they remained a long way behind in the overall context of the match but the morning session couldn’t have gone any better.
The pendulum soon changed, with lunch still fifteen minutes away. Stokes, thirteen runs from his century, tried to shield a full length ball from Mitchell Marsh, outside off stump on the back foot, the ball kept low and an inside edge from his bat cannoned into his stumps to end the 145-run partnership abruptly. It was a magnificent innings by Stokes and a blameless ovation followed him back to the pavilion after steadying the ship for his country.
LUNCH: ENGLAND 181-5 (187 short of the follow-on)
England had reached lunch feeling punctured. 96 runs had been scored in the morning session with the loss of that late wicket. One lapse and Australia had the momentum back, just as Mitchell Johnson came back for another spell of fast bowling.
Appropriately it was Johnson the tormentor, this time teasing Jos Buttler with a superb variety of bowling. Buttler was lucky to escape soon after lunch, edging a Johnson ball to Peter Nevill, who took a low catch. However, umpire Erasmus correctly ruled that the ball had touched the ground before the keeper collected it.
Then it was Cook’s turn for a slight piece of luck, as Australia began to turn the screw. The England captain hooked Johnson viciously towards the gully region where Steve Smith uncharacteristically dropped the catch.
There was little surprise thereon after as Buttler was finally given out as he edged a Lyon ball into the gloves of Nevill. Buttler soon walked, with it, England’s chances were dwindling by the minute.
Chasing his 28th century after a gritty display, Cook reached for a wide ball which angled across him from Marsh, Cook misread the pace of the ball which caught a huge inside edge of his bat and smacked into his leg stump, to depart for 96.
As he left to a standing ovation, England’s assignment began to look near-on impossible. The tourists seized the session once more, just as it seemed to be going well just a few hours earlier.
TEA- ENGLAND 285-7 (82 short of the follow-on)
Moeen Ali promptly continued where he left off in Cardiff. Risky shots, boundaries and one huge six followed, but his luck finally ran out as he was trapped lbw to a Josh Hazelwood in-swinger, for a fleeting innings that promised more.
Stuart Broad and Mark Wood were soon out before their innings had started and England were all–out for 312 after tea on a beautiful batting strip and staring down the barrel of a big defeat.
Australia carefully advanced to 108-0 at the close on another day that very much belongs to the tourists. It is becoming pretty difficult to see anything other than an Aussie win, even for wide-eyed English optimists.
They will look to explode out of the traps early tomorrow and build a huge lead of around 450-500 before giving themselves five sessions to bowl England out, and with the weather forecast looking fine, on the evidence of the first innings, that will be more than enough time.
Day four continues tomorrow starting at 11:00am BST. Follow the action with Britwatch Live Scores