It was all going so well……… It was pretty even up until day four and despite England being only just ahead with two wickets down it was still anyone’s for the taking. Unfortunately England collapsed under the weight of a feather during the day with Australia really took to the driving seat with England encasing the spirit of the proverbial rabbit in the headlights.
Hazlewood opened up again with Starc with the batsman overnight bring Stoneman and Root not out for 19 and 5 respectively.
After a few overs of Starc and Hazlewood mildly testing the England batsmen Lyon and Cummins were brought on and it was an inspired change with Lyon taking the wicket of Stoneman for 27 runs with a ball that the England opener didn’t have to go near, instead edging it to first slip with an easy catch.
Cummins also almost struck again with root struggling to control a short ball that didn’t quite carry prodding it well outside his body.
Lyon soon struck again taking the wicket of Malan who was only able to edge a testing ball to slip in a dissmissal reminding me very much of Kevin Pietersen vs the left arm spinner. A poorly played forward defensive bringing the bat down across his body leaving England on 74-4 and in serious trouble only 48 ahead.
Starc and Hazlewood were brought back on with Starc struggling yet again to find a line banging it on short to Ali, almost getting his wicket but for the ball bouncing short of the slips yet again.
After a few careful overs of slow accumulating, it looked like England would be finally putting themselves back into a contestable position before Hazlewood continued his improved second innings performance with the ball by trapping the England skipper with an absolute plum dismissal that Root didn’t give a second thought to referring.
This left England on 119-5 at lunch with Bairstow and Ali in in a partnership that would make or break the game. Lyon was again carted out of the attack by Moeen Ali proactively launching him for several boundaries before Bairstow hit him for six.
In a great piece of work by Tim Paine Ali was stumped in one of the more controversial decisions of the series as #wobblylinegate did the rounds on twitter as the line appeared to be far too thick rendering Ali well stumped. England were on 155-6 and luckily this dismissal gave England fans in classic fashion with an excuse to moan about. So if they do lose the series of course it was all changed by one of the worst drawn lines in Test history.
After yet another small partnership England fans were given another shred of hope which was soon sent packing after Woakes edged a short Starc ball to Smith at second slip who refuses to take anything less than a man of the match role in the game. This started the England funeral procession with 4 wickets in 22 minutes, with only 30 till tea. England on 185-7
9 Runs later and another England batsman had got himself out playing another nothing shot. This time it was Bairstow expertly picking out Handscomb at 3rd man off another short Starc ball dabbing it up in the air straight to the man at the deep. All work and no play made Jonny a dull boy in a poor shot that showed why the selectors have serious doubts about him further up the order.
The next dismissal was the next episode in Broad’s road to Karmic balance getting out to a knick so small that hotspot barely picked it up. One of the best reviews I have seen with Starc not even appealing. This left England on 195-9 allowing Anderson to defend 1 ball before Jake Ball was bounced out by Cummins getting caught by the fly slip giving Cummins a really deserved wicket.
A really poor showing from England’s batsman with half of them getting themselves out with needing any prompting. 195 all out, 170 ahead. The only relief England were offered was the fact that the pitch was still seriously misbehaving but if England bowled like they did in the first innings then it would be kinder for Warner to put the side down like he so easily can.
Oh. England are bowling like they did in the First innings. Broad and Anderson opened up to Warner and Bancroft for a few overs of minimal wicket threat and single after single from the openers who just wore down the England attack showed that the pitch wasn’t enough to stop them. Some excellent running followed with Warner and Bancroft knocking the ball into space expertly leaving Steve Smith beaming without the prospect of even having to pick up a bat until the day night test in 6 days time. The closest either of the openers came to getting a wicket was when Anderson threw the ball straight into Bancroft’s thigh as he advanced down the wicket but even then he didn’t flinch proving for the second time this test that his reputation for being hard as nails was absolutely spot on.
All of the England attack tried their hands at trying to dismiss the pair, but before long Warner upped the anti hitting several boundaries through midwicket making mincemeat of Woakes and Ball on the way to an almost flawless 75 ball innings. And not before long the hundred partnership was brought up after 28.5 overs with just a handful left as well as a whole day to score the remaining runs.
Not long after the Debutant Bancroft also reached his half century after 111 balls. Unlucky for some, those some being 11 hot Englishmen standing round two batsman mastering their craft. An impressive innings and one to remember. Truly a day of Pommy bashing as Australia truly have to mess up on a catastrophic level to lose this match.
They think it’s all over and it pretty much is now. One can only imagine the back pages tomorrow.