Sunday 25 February 2018

England swing into action to expose Aussie flaws

Derek Pringle

England had their best day of the series after their bowlers showed great skill and fortitude to haul the visitors into the match, taking five wickets in the final session of the second day.

It was an admirable display after England had lost their last four wickets in 11 overs with some reckless batting on the second morning.

The collapse, perpetrated by another Mitchell Johnson blitzkrieg which led to the fast bowler finishing with 5-63, had threatened to sink England's tour into further ignominy, but the pace bowlers swung into action later on.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were the pick of the attack, with three wickets apiece, but the whole quartet performed with distinction. It helped that Australia donated a couple of scalps through over confidence and that the ball reverse-swung more here than it has done all tour.

For those who buy the three-all-with-two-to-play nature of these back-to-back Ashes series, the contest has always been about two fine bowling attacks against two vulnerable batting line-ups and the resultant fall-out from that -- bad for Australia at Lord's and Durham and calamitous for England in the first three Tests here.

It shows character to strive with such optimism after Australia had bowled them out for 255 in chaotic circumstances.

Australia were also sloppy, David Warner popping up a catch to Jonny Bairstow off the leading edge as he breezily tried to work Anderson to leg.

The ball was not swinging then, but once it was, the skills from him and the others were as masterful as they were here three years ago. Anderson's in-swinger, a rare beast in the first three Tests, duped Clarke into padding up only to hear the fateful rattle of leather on stump. It was a massive misjudgment from Australia's captain.

Chris Rogers ploughed on, his bat as straight as the furrow he made taking his guard for the 171 balls he faced in his 61.

Broad struck him on the right cheek with a bouncer just after lunch when he had made 16. It drew blood and the ministrations of the medical staff, but a strip of sticking plaster and a quick drink and he was ready to go for another 45 runs.

He succumbed to a rank shot, his attempt to loft Tim Bresnan over mid-off coming from the pressure of dot balls which England had been building. Kevin Pietersen took the catch, of moderate difficulty, at mid-off.

England's catching has been suspect under pressure all tour and Ian Bell, the team's new second slip after the sudden retirement of Graeme Swann, almost fluffed an edge as Steve Smith slashed at Broad. He saw it late but managed to readjust his hands.

Anderson dropped two catches off Bresnan but neither proved expensive, Smith falling to Broad and Anderson catching Johnson close in on the pull a few overs later.

Brad Haddin has been England's nemesis all series and was again here, hitting Alastair Cook's best bowlers off their plans. He came in at 112 for five and dragged his team from the mire.

For once the tail did not perform well with him. Ryan Harris looked like a proper batsmen in Adelaide but here he fended Broad's bouncer to short-leg just like a No 9. In his next over, Broad had Peter Siddle caught at extra-cover.

Given there was only a few minutes before stumps it was a brainless shot and evidence England's lower order do not have a monopoly on them.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)



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