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Friday, July 19, 2013

Bell's toll mounts before Smith tweaks Australia back into game: T1 D1


England 7/289 (89ov, Bell 109/211b/16x4, Bairstow 67/146b/7x4, Trott 58/87b/11x4, Smith 3/18, Harris 3/43) v Australia; T2/5 D1/5 at Lord's, London. England won toss and chose to bat.

On a hot London day Australia made early inroads into the England batting, from which point Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow regained the initiative. They took the total from 3/28 to 4/127 and 4/183 at tea, when I went to bed...and caught up with what happened subsequently on the Fox Sports highlights.

In the last part of the final session Steven Smith reminded us that he is now a batter who can bowl leg spin (not the reverse as was the case when he came intoTest cricket in the last Ashes series). First he induced Bell to edge a pitch perfect turning legbreak to slip, next c&bing Bairstow off a low full toss (the kind you some see in shorter forms of the game) and then having Matt Prior caught behind off a quicker straight ball.

5/271, 6/274, 7/283 pulled England up, but they wouldn't feel that they'd had a bad day. They had one piece of good fortune when Bairstow was bowled neck and crop by Siddle: a delivery which was adjudged by the third umpire to be a no ball ( after watching it for the umpteenth time I am beginning to see why  the official came to that conclusion). Yet he, Trott and,especially, the mature - in both temporal and stylistic senses of the word- Bell combatively responded to some high quality Australian bowling and took advantage of some of moderate quality.

Ryan Harris, restored to the eleven at the expense of Mitchell Starc, took early wickets and thereafter, bowling in short spells to keep his frail body fit for combat, kept England restrained, which he needed to do as neither James Pattinson nor Ashton Agar were able to bowl a consistent line and length. But without Smith's late intervention the Australians would not have slept so easily as I hope they did.

So who's in front? If I have to make a call I'd say England, but the First Test showed that the sides are evenly matched, and the first day's play confirmed this. The weather forecast is very good - more Australian than UKish- so there should be plenty of good cricket to look forward to. 

<a href= "http://www.espncricinfo.com/the-ashes-2013/engine/match/566933.html"> Scorecard</a>

Trivia

* Start of play was delayed by The Queen's visit 
* The Sky scorer pointed out that early in England's innings the 10,000th leg bye in Test cricket was nudged up. Think of it 
* Of the teams presented to Her Majesty only the two captains wore blazers: aren't the rank and file issued with them any more?
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