England resume their first innings batting on day three of this enthralling Edgbaston Ashes 2009 test match on 116 for 2 knowing that a solid day at the crease could see them edge closer to a series victory.
Captain Andrew Strauss resumes on 64, he’ll be hoping to stay long beyond the first over he managed in his Lords first innings – if yesterday’s prowess with the bat can be repeated, he could well make back to back centuries today.
Ian Bell, free from Kevin Pietersen’s injury woes, has a point to prove to selectors and will therefore be hoping to add to the 26 runs he chalked up on his return to the England fold yesterday.
This match is well poised.
England will be looking to make a second inning unnecessary particularly with today’s forecast showers and having lost most of the opening day to rain. They’ll be hoping to set Australia a target of 200+ in the last day and a half, which means a first innings total in excess of 460. A tall order, but one to which Australian bowlers are not adding any height at present.
Mitchell Johnson has still to find any consistency with the ball, which is putting increasing pressure on Hilfenhaus and the impressive Siddle. As England and Swann showed, this is the ideal pitch for quicks who can move the ball in the air, so perhaps the fact Hauritz along with Hilfenhaus is the most active bowler tells the story of just how poorly Johnson is playing at present.
Every time Mitchell Johnson starts his run-up, the Edgbaston crowd are goading him – and it seems to be working.
One wonders just how long Australia will persist with their front line attacking bowler when he isn’t performing. His golden duck yesterday cannot have helped his cause.
Australia will be hoping their bowlers can repeat the turnaround England showed on day two – when Graham Onions produced two wickets in the opening brace of balls to set the tone for a whole day.
Whatever happens in this test match today, England players and fans alike can remark on a great day’s cricket yesterday. A special mention must go to James Anderson who took a 5 wicket haul in a devastating spell of swinging pace bowling, effectively ripping the Australian middle order to shreds. Anderson with his dander up, and a cloud in the sky, is a frightening prospect for Australia.
Today’s task is simple for the two sides: Australia need to break this partnership, in particular they need to see Strauss back in the pavillion early. England just need to still be batting at the end of the day and they’ll be pushing towards another victory, providing the showers which are forecast do what the weatherman says they will. Pass.
This match is still odds-on for a draw but if one side is to win this test match, current trends indicate that will be England. But then, at the start of play yesterday, the reverse was true: another momentum shift is always possible – even likely – in Ashes cricket.
Wickets (plural) before lunch would, once again, open up this match.