Finn stars in extraordinary third test

England are set to wrap up the third test at Edgbaston in an unprecedented three days after restricting the visitors to 168-7, a lead of just 23 runs. The hosts had resumed the day on 133-3, but another day of exhibition bowling saw 14 wickets fall. Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad made sure that England capitalised on the first day’s bowling display, whilst Steven Finn’s six wickets decimated the Australian middle-order. Only David Warner, who put on 77, offered any resistance to the English bowlers. The day was marred by a potential series-ending injury sustained by Jimmy Anderson, who went off with a muscle injury.

Steve Finn produced a five-wicket haul to put England firmly in the driving seat

Steve Finn produced a five-wicket haul to put England firmly in the driving seat

Mitchell Johnson opened the day brightly for the Aussies, as he took two wickets in three balls. Both Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes fell to short balls cannoning off of them to Peter Nevill. Joe Root brought up his 50, but got out for 63 after nicking a poor Mitchell Starc ball to Voges at slip. After surviving one review, Jos Buttler continued his poor series, going lbw to Lyon for 9. However, Hawkeye revealed the ball to be missing the stumps, meaning had Buttler reviewed the decision he would have stayed in.

Moeen Ali's 59 from 78 balls featured 11 fours

Moeen Ali’s 59 from 78 balls featured 11 fours

With England seven down and leading by only 85 runs at lunch, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad built up a partnership of 87. Ali hit 11 fours on his way past fifty,whilst Broad found the boundary three times. But Broad fell to a short ball from Hazlewood, skying it to Mitchell Marsh. Moeen Ali’s fantastic innings came to an end in the same over, as he lobbed to Warner at the boundary. Anderson was the last to fall, with England finishing on 281, a lead of 145.

Stuart Broad drew first blood for England, trapping Chris Rogers lbw for 6. David Warner carried Australia past 50, providing 30 of them himself. Steve Smith was unable to produce a similar display though, adding just 8 before he skied a Steve Finn delivery high to Jos Buttler behind the stumps. Adam Lyth took a great diving catch to dismiss Clarke for 3, and Finn was on a hat-trick as Voges edged to Bell on the next ball. Mitchell Marsh survived the hat-trick ball, as well as an lbw review, but was bowled by Finn for six. Australia had crumbled, losing four wickets for only 30 runs.

And it looked as if England could have wrapped up the match today as David Warner looped Adam Lyth for 77, leaving Australia 111-6, still trailing by 34 runs. It wasn’t long after dismissing Warner that Anderson pulled up with a suspected side muscle injury. Steve Finn took his fifth wicket of the day, as Mitchell Johnson top-edged to Ben Stokes at backward point. Australia survived the day, as Starc and Nevill took them to 168-7 at close of play.

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England hold slight advantage on day 2

A fine batting display from Chris Rogers threatened to put Australia in control of the first test, but a lack of support from his fellow batsmen has potentially left visitors chasing the game. Moeen Ali stood out, scoring a strong 77 to banish memories of yesterday morning’s abysmal early collapse, before taking two wickets.

Moeen Ali scored 77 with the bat before taking two wickets

Moeen Ali scored 77 with the bat before taking two wickets

England resumed on 343-7, with Broad and Ali at the crease. Stuart Broad survived an early scare, with Johnson’s short ball ricochetting off of the batsman, and appeared to be caught by Adam Voges. Broad was given out, but an umpire review revealed the ball did hit the ground. Moeen Ali brought up his 50 with a fortuitous four, getting an inside edge which darted across the face of his stumps before reaching the boundary. Broad lost his wicket cheaply for 18, as he swung loosely at a Nathan Lyon delivery, nicking behind to Haddin.

Ali was the next to fall, as his impressive 77 from 88 balls was ended when he edged Starc’s delivery to Shane Watson at slip. Jimmy Anderson’s was the final wicket, with England finishing on 430, and Mitchell Starc ending up with a five-for. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mitchell Johnson finished with the worst bowling figures for an Australian in England since 1985, with 0-111 from his 25 overs.

Broad could have had an early wicket, as Chris Rodgers was given out lbw. However, an Australian review revealed a nick from the bat. Anderson eventually made the breakthrough though, as David Warner edged his delivery to a diving Alastair Cook at slip, putting Australia on 52-1. Steve Smith looked to be carrying on his good form, until he chipped straight to Cook at mid-wicket for 33. Chris Rogers had really dug in and was looking good for a century, pushing Australia forward to 180 with Michael Clarke. But he fell agonisingly short of his ton as he became Mark Wood’s first Ashes victim, nicking behind to Jos Buttler for 95.

Alastair Cook dives to take

Alastair Cook dives to dismiss David Warner

Michael Clarke was the fourth to fall, as he drove straight back to Moeen Ali, who reacted quickly to take a smart catch, leaving the Aussies 207-4. Ben Stokes took a late wicket to put England in the driving seat, as Adam Voges played a loose shot to Anderson at cover for 31. Australia finished the day on 264-5, trailing by 166, with Shane Watson and night watchman Nathan Lyon at the crease. James Anderson’s economic bowling stood out, as he was rewarded with a wicket and six maidens from his 16 overs. Moeen Ali was also dangerous with the ball, taking 2-67.

England will feel that they hold a slender advantage after two days play, and taking the wickets of Watson and Haddin early on tomorrow will put the hosts firmly in control. With the exception of Chris Rogers, the Australian openers got in, but were unable to capitalise before getting out.

Smith ton keeps Australia on top

England’s decision to play 2 spinners came back to bite them, as the seamers struggled against the Australian middle and lower order. Rain delayed play until 2:30, making the pitch more suitable for seamers. Resuming on 307-4, night-watchman Siddle stuck around for longer than expected, until Jimmy Anderson finally broke through, bowling Siddle for 23. With Smith and Haddin at the crease, England were desperate for a wicket, as shown by a wasted review, with Anderson’s ball brushing the trouser of Haddin before carrying to Prior. The desperation was even more evident as Cook called Jonathan Trott in to the attack, as Broad and Anderson looked tired with England’s attack relying on them. Steve Smith made his first test 100 in some style, hitting Trott for 6. Part-time bowler Trott broke the 65 partnership though, as he bowled Haddin for 30, with the batsmen inside-edging it on to his own stumps. After tea England pressed on with 3 wickets in an hour. Chris Woakes got his first wicket for England, with Trott taking a brilliant sliding catch on the boundary from Faulkner for 23. Graeme Swann bowled his first ball of the day, 3 hours in to play, and got Mitchell Starc out for 13. Ryan Harris came in to make a quick-fire 33, including two 6s, before he spooned a Jimmy Anderson ball up in the air, and Anderson turned and caught Harris about 20 yards out from the wicket. Australia declared straight after this wicket, finishing on 492-9d.

England came in to bat for the last hour or so, looking to preserve the openers’ wickets until tomorrow morning. Cook survived an lbw appeal on 15, as the ball was going wide of the stumps. Root and Cook started positively, ending on 32 without loss.

Rodgers punishes average England

An unbeaten 101 from Chris Rodgers left Australia trailing by just 16 runs at the close of play. England’s last wicket lasted only two overs in the morning, before Jimmy Anderson was dismissed by Jackson Bird, adding no more runs to his 16. This left England at 238 all out.

Stuart Broad made an early impression on the Aussies, getting 2 early wickets. David Warner was bowled by Broad for 3, with Usman Khawaja following for a 8 ball duck, leaving Australia on a perilous 12-2. Rodgers survived 2 reviews, with DRS confusion playing it’s part. After surviving a first lbw appeal, Rogers appeared to be caught by Prior, but the review showed that it hit his pads. However, the review also showed that Rodgers would have been out lbw. But the umpires refused to give the opener out, as England’s appeal was based on the catch, not the lbw. Captain Michael Clarke could only add 6 to the total, before Cook took a high catch at first slip from Broad’s bowling. Steve Smith also failed to stay at the crease after getting in, after nicking Tim Bresnan behind to Matt Prior. Rodgers was dropped twice on 45 and 50, with Bresnan missing a catch from his own bowling, and Graeme Swann dropping Rodgers at full stretch at second slip. To add to England’s woes, the ball looked as if it would have carried to Alistair Cook for  simple catch, and Swann appeared to injure his finger attempting the catch. Rodgers and Watson put on a 129 partnership to push the Aussies on from 76-4 to 205-5. The most worrying thing for England was the bowling of Anderson, Swann and Bresnan looking distinctly average, with Stuart Broad providing the only signs of hope. It was no surprise then, that Broad was the one to break the Aussies’ key partnership, with Matt Prior diving to his left to cling on to Watson’s nick, dismissing him for 68. Not long after Rodgers made his maiden Ashes test century, bad light stopped play with Australia finishing on 222-5. This came at a good time for England, and hopefully a nights rest and a new ball to come will invigorate England’s bowling attack.

Agar stars on day 2 of Ashes

Australia clawed back some dignity on day 2 at Trent Bridge, with a record test score for a number 11 batsman and highest test 10th wicket stand. The hero of the innings was 19 year old Ashton Agar, who put the visitor’s top order to shame with a stunning 98. The Aussies attempted to dig in in the morning session and stabilise their position, but only put on 33 runs before Matt Prior caught Steven Smith behind off the bowling of Anderson. At 108 for 5, Australia lost it, throwing away 4 wickets for only 9 runs, with 2 wickets each for Swann and Anderson, his 4th and 5th of the match. But with Australia on the ropes, 117-9, Hughes and Agar dug in for over 30 overs. They put on a record breaking 10th wicket stand for a test, 151 runs, and débutante Agar’s score of 98 being the highest for a test number 11. Matt Prior thought that he had stumped Agar on 10, but the after several slow motion replays proving inconclusive, the batsman was given the benefit of the doubt. England finally dismissed Agar just shy of his century, with Graeme Swann catching the teenager on the boundary off the bowling of Stuart Broad. Although the majority inside Trent Bridge were supporting the hosts, not many would have begrudged the youngster his ton after a magnificent (and potentially match winning) performance.

England lost an early wicket, with Joe Root being caught for just 5. Controversy then followed as Jonathan Trott was dismissed lbw for a duck, and although hotspot showed no sign of contact with the bat, the slow motion camera showed that Trott had indeed got an inside edge on the ball. Kevin Pieterson came in with Cook to steady the ship, and his 6 boundaries saw him build a composed 35 as he showed signs of returning to form in an England shirt. England finished the day on 80 for 2, leading by 15 runs.

If Cook and Pieterson survive the morning session, the test could sway in England’s favour, but as it is, the game stands perfectly in the balance.