x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Anderson swings it for England

England's sultans of swing struck a chord at Edgbaston to leave Australia in dire straits in the Midlands today.

England paceman James Anderson celebrates dismissing the Australian batsman Michael Clarke on the second day of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.
England paceman James Anderson celebrates dismissing the Australian batsman Michael Clarke on the second day of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston.

England's sultans of swing struck a chord at Edgbaston to leave Australia in dire straits in the Midlands today. The tourists were blown away by a devastating display of pace bowling by James Anderson and Graham Onions as England took a vice-like grip on the contest. Once Onions had dismissed Shane Watson and Michael Hussey off the first two balls of the day, England marched on in imperious fashion. Starting the day on 126 for one, Australia added just 137 for the loss of nine wickets as their batsmen capitulated in catastrophically. Anderson took five for 80 to record his best Test match figures in an Ashes series, while Onions claimed four for 58 to put England in control. Chasing 263, Andrew Strauss once again passed the half-century mark as England eased past the 100 amid fading light. Without doubt the morning session belonged to England as Onions and Anderson ripped through the Australian batting order. Watson failed to add to his overnight score of 62 after being given out lbw, while Hussey lasted just one ball as Onions dislodged the bails with a rasping delivery. That set the tone for the day, with England, tails up and aggressive throughout, determined to extend their series lead. Not even Ricky Ponting - so often the scourge of the home side - was able to turn the tide as he too fell cheaply after inadvertently hooking Onions into the grateful gloves of Matt Prior. At 163 for four, Australia began to look vulnerable and no one more so than Michael Clarke, who had played so beautifully and so eloquently at Lord's. Clarke's knock of 136 in the second Test had threatened to pull Australia out of the mire but he looked all at sea against the swinging ball. By the time he was eventually dismissed lbw by Anderson, Clarke had already survived a dropped catch by Andrew Flintoff and another rather dubious leg before appeal. That he remained at the crease long enough to score 29 owed more to luck than judgement as Anderson and Onions continued to threaten. Marcus North and Mitchell Johnson were dismissed in consecutive deliveries by Anderson to leave Australia reeling on 202 for seven before the debutante Graham Manou soon followed. Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Hauritz added 34 for the last wicket before the former was caught at gully by Graeme Swann as England wrapped up the innings just after lunch. With a raucous Edgbaston crowd in full swing and England with the bit between their teeth, the stage appeared set for the home side to go out all guns blazing. Not even the early dismissal of Alastair Cook could knock the hosts out of their stride as Strauss and Bopara put on 60 before the Essex man played on to Hilfenhaus. From there on, it was the Strauss show as the England captain took the Australia bowlers to task with an array of sumptuous strokes. Having scored a scintillating 161 in the second Test, Strauss began where he left off at Lord's by punishing some wayward Australian bowling.

While the Middlesex man oozed calm, Ian Bell looked agitated and nervous on his return to the England side. Playing in front of his home crowd, the Warwickshire man somehow escaped being given lbw to Johnson while on 18. The decision, which was given by umpire Rudi Koertzen, was one of several which appeared to go against Ponting's side. Bell made the most of his good fortune, bludgeoning his way to 24 as England continued to pile on the pressure. It was only when the light began to fade that Australia looked threatening with both batsmen struggling to see the ball. That convinced Strauss to take the light with the captain unbeaten on 64 and his side 147 runs behind. sports@thenational.ae