But brittle England batting order leaves the door open
LONDON: England slumped to 583 at stumps on the second day of the deciding fifth Ashes Test yesterday after Australia claimed three quick wickets to undermine Stuart Broad’s inspirational bowling display.
England still held an overall lead of 230 runs.
Fifteen wickets fell in a dramatic day, which began with England ending its first innings on 332, then dismissing Australia for 160 when Broad claimed 5-37. But, after reaching 27-0, England was quickly reduced to 39-3.
Alastair Cook was out for nine, caught at slip off spinner Marcus North, and Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood were both caught by short leg fielder Simon Katich off Mitchell Johnson for 4 and 1 respectively.
Captain Andrew Strauss was 32 not out with debutant Jonathan Trott unbeaten on 8. The evening slump by England may have dented its chances of regaining the Ashes.
The six-week series turned in a two-hour afternoon session when Australia lost eight wickets, and eventually saw all 10 wickets fall for 87 runs in 30 overs and 138 minutes, having reached 61-0 at lunch.
Broad sparked the collapse by grabbing the first four Australian wickets in a 21-ball burst in which he conceded eight runs, extracting swing and seam on an unusually bowler-friendly pitch at The Oval.
He went on to record his third five-wicket Test haul after taking best figures of 6-91 in the last match that Australia won by an innings to level the series at 1-1.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann exploited a dry, dusty pitch that took spin from the first day. Australia opted to omit its leading spin bowler Nathan Hauritz.
Australia seemed well placed at lunch, but collapsed following a 50-minute rain delay after the interval. Opener Shane Watson fortunate to survive an lbw appeal against Andrew Flintoff when on 4, was dismissed lbw by Broad for 34, which made the score 73-1 after umpire Asad Rauf ’s earlier error.
Captain Ricky Ponting’s first runs came off an inside edge for four off Broad, who then bowled him off the inside edge next over for 8 with an off-cutter.
Michael Hussey was out lbw for 0 to Broad in the next over after playing a halfhearted push, Michael Clarke scored 3 from seven balls before caught by Trott at short cover and North was next to depart, unluckily given out lbw for 8 by Rauf despite getting an inside edge on his pad.
Opener and top-scorer Katich (50) was the last of the top six to fall when his 170-minute innings was ended by an inside edge on to his pad to short-leg fielder Cook.
The score then stood at 109-6, which was 111-7 when No 7 Brad Haddin was bowled by Broad’s perfectly shaped out-swinger.
Johnson was out five minutes before tea for 11 when he edged Swann to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
Swann played his part in the chaos with a spell of 3-11 from 27 balls.
After tea, Stuart Clark was given out by Rauf for an apparent inside edge on to his pad off Swann even though the ball missed his bat by several inches. Andrew Flintoff, playing his final test, bowled Ben Hilfenhaus for the last wicket. – AP
GAME BREAKER: England’s Stuart Broad (centre) is swamped by his team mates after dismissing Australia’s Michael Clarke.