England 9/238 (90ov, Cook 51/164b/5x4, Trott 49/60/7x4, Lyon 20-7-42-4) v Australia: T4/5 D1/5 at Chester-Le-Street, Durham. England won toss and batted.
Hard to believe that Australia, 0-2 down, have won 5 (perhaps all 6) of the last 6 days in this Test series. I didn't expect them to do so, but a collective resilience has risen from the ashes of the Lord's drubbing and the loss of the Ashes which has put an often sluggish and slapdash England on the back foot both literally and metaphorically.
I thought that Mitchell Starc deserved to play instead of Jackson Bird, but, once satisfied that Ryan Harris was fit to take the field so soon after T3, the selectors preferred the line and length man to the mercurial one. It seems to have been the right decision for the slow opening day wicket, but whether Starc's batting will be missed remains to be seen.
Nathan Lyon, another who hasn't enjoyed the selectors' favour this year, was the surprise packet. He'd bowled reasonably well at Old Trafford, where his 1/100+ for the match didn't reflect the quality of his bowling. Here the statistical balance was redressed: he was subtler, yet didn't spin the ball that much, but took the wickets of numbers 2-6 after the four quick bowlers had held England to 1/57 at lunch, Alistair Cook's acquiescent 21*/90b setting the pace (if that's the right term).
In the afternoon session Lyon, assisted by some shrewd bowling changes by Michael Clarke, winkled out a seemingly well set Jonathan Trott, then took the wind out of Kevin Pietersen's full blown sails, before snaffling Ian Bell to a lazy shot and baffling an out of sorts and tortoise like Jonny Bairstow, while Cook droned on to a torpid 51 before Bird had him lbw and his team 4/155.
The Australian quick bowlers kept things tight and wickets at regular intervals. 9/238, which looked below par to me, prompted some England supporters who know, or claimed to know, the vagaries of the Durham wicket, to state that 250 is a good total. Sounds like whistling in the dark to me, but Australia will have to reprise much of their Old Trafford first innings form to prove me wrong.