It was lucky number 7 for Andrew Strauss and his England compatriots as they left the Edgbaston field of play for lunch having dismissed 7 Australian batsmen for just 77 runs in a wonderful morning’s play, which saw the visitors come in on 207 for 8.
England came out this morning knowing that early wickets were required, and turned to the man who’s position in the team looked least assured last week, Graham Onions, to deliver the first over of the morning. What a decision that would prove to be. Onions took two wickets in two balls, accounting for the top scoring Ashes debutant Shane Watson (62) LBW before clean bowling Mike “Mr Cricket” Hussey (0). The game, as they say, was back on. Momentum had shifted.
Two men who have the ability to post a large score accounted for, Australia started to find their feet again with perhaps their best ever big run scorer left, captain Ricky Ponting, creeping closer to his fifty. England fans roared just after half past eleven, however, when man-of-the-moment Onions produced some fine work on Ponting (38) to nick an edge which was caught by wicket-keeper Prior.
Michael Clarke (29) rode his luck before eventually succumbing to James Anderson’s first wicket of the match, out LBW to a ball which swung in late. This signalled the start of the Anderson show again, as he quickly collected another three wickets – two in a row when he took North (12) caught Prior and Mitchell Johnson (0) LBW – before welcoming newcomer Manou by bowling him for just 8 runs.
The Australian tail looks like it is failing to wag again, for the second match in succession.
England will hope to dismiss Australia for under 250 on a pitch that does not look too uninviting to batsmen. They have improved upon yesterday’s lacklustre bowling performance with some explosive spells. Wickets, when they have arrived thus far, have come in destructive clusters. Australia must hope that either tomorrow’s forecast heavy rain materialises or they manage to pick up early wickets on a pitch that rewards tight lines – something their bowlers had real trouble with in the first innings a fortnight ago – otherwise this test match could quickly slip away from them.
Onions has 3 wickets for 46 off 12. Anderson has 4 wickets for 64 off 20. One of them could claim five, each has done enough to deserve it. Whichever, if any, does achieve the feat, the England bowlers will remember this morning for two golden Australian ducks under the Edgbaston clouds. Fans who waited out yesterday’s rain have been treated to a fine morning, with two home hat-trick attempts to boot.