The Ashes 2009: Match Remains Balanced at Lunch on Fifth Day at Edgbaston

James Anderson celebrates taking the wicket of Shane Watson (53)

England and Australia go for lunch on the fifth day of this third Ashes 2009 test at Edgbaston with the match still firmly in the balance.

The day started with opener Shane Watson and out-of-sorts Mike Hussey at the crease, with Australia on 88 for 2. As lunch was called, both batsmen had been caught by Prior’s gloves, with Watson (53) falling to James Anderson before Hussey (64) eventually succumbed from Broad. Australia are on 172 for 4 at lunch, leading the test match by 59 runs.

The first hour or so after lunch will be vital as Australia have two new batsmen at the crease: with Michael Clarke (12 not out) and North (4 not out) having only recently entered the middle.

This morning, Andrew Flintoff once again worked very hard in a long spell, but failed to produce a wicket. Graham Onions bowled his now customary tight, straight spell, but he, too, could not produce the required early wicket this time. Swann’s spell of off-spin was perhaps his worst of the series to date: many loose deliveries failed to place any pressure on Hussey and the incoming batsmen this morning.

It took James Anderson who, according to Geoff Boycott, “could swing an orange” to bring some new life to this match after both Watson and Hussey had made half-centuries. Anderson got the nick from Watson early in his spell. Hussey was to follow soon after from a relatively innocuous looking delivery from Broad. Until then, Hussey looked like he was batting in treacle at times: the game, for now, seeming not to come naturally for Mr Cricket.

Anderson needs some support from Broad, Onions or Flintoff after lunch – Flintoff is looking slightly jaded, so it will fall to probably Onions to work away in tandem with Anderson. If they can produce a couple of quick wickets this afternoon, then the pressure will really be cranked up on the Australian tail which has shown little resilience in the past three innings they have played.

It may well be that the last two partnerships are vital in this test: there is plenty of time remaining for England if they can remove the tail for 150 or thereabouts: they can then come out for a 20Twenty style evening to chase a total of under 200. If Australia can get any sort of batting form, however, England will have to settle for a draw, and thoughts of what might have been.

Honours even this morning; by tea-time, we should know which way this cricket match is likely to swing.

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