x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Warner and Clarke each go for a hundred and all but seal first Ashes Test for Australia

David Warner went for 124 and Michael Clarke provided 113 as Australia climbed to 401 for seven before declaring with a 560-run lead on the third day of the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. After a 24 for two start, England face a 537-run deficit with eight wickets left.

David Warner finished with 124 runs off 154 balls on Saturday. Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
David Warner finished with 124 runs off 154 balls on Saturday. Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

When Australia began the third day of the first Ashes Test on Saturday at 65 with their full collection of wickets in hand, things looked certainly poor for England, but not necessarily dire.

Their pacemen had done well on the first day in bowling out Australia for 295. Their batsmen, in replying with just 136 for the first innings, did not do so well. But, staring at a 224-run deficit at the start of the day, it wasn’t inconceivable that with a little bit of magic out of Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and co, a chase could be made.

And when the wickets of Chris Rogers and Shane Watson fell early in the morning with just eight runs separating them, the possibility the English attack had that magic in them seemed ever likelier.

As the Australians walked off the wicket having declared at 401 for seven with a 560-run lead with the day near its end, though, any distant hopes of an English victory had travelled well out of the range of reason.

David Warner, who began the day on 45, joined with captain Michael Clarke to form a 158-run partnership that took Australia from 75 for two to 233 for three by the time Warner was caught out by Matt Prior from a Broad delivery, 124 runs to his credit.

Clarke soldiered on and made his own century before Graeme Swann bowled him out for 113.

Clarke departed with Australia at 294 for five in their second innings, a 224-run lead swelled now to 453. A 34 from George Bailey, a Brad Haddin half-century that gave him one in each innings and a Mitchell Johnson 39 did the heavy lifting to bring Australia over 400 and Clarke finally saw fit to declare.

As if to punctuate how thoroughly the situation had reversed from the first day – when England’s bowlers had put themselves in a strong opening position – Michael Carberry left for a duck and Jonathan Trott was caught out for nine before the end of the day.

England will begin the fourth day at the Gabba at 24 for two, needing 537 runs from eight wickets. The number would seem to speak for itself.