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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Long day's journey with little delight: T5D3

England 4/247 (116ov, Root 68/184b/11x4, Pietersen 50/133b/4x4, Trott 40) trail Australia 9/492d by 245 runs with 6 1st inns wickets in hand; T5/5 D3/5 at Kennington Oval, London.

An attritional - many would say dull -  day's cricket in which England,without ever being in serious trouble, crawled to 4/247, still 45 away from saving the follow on which Australia will need to enforce to have a chance of forcing a consolation victory.

In the face of a huge total England's best hope, sitting on a 3-0 series lead and hoping that the forecast rain would eventuate, was to hang on for a draw.

2.12 runs an over so far pretty well says it all. Each of the top order batters followed Alistair Cook and Joe Root's example set the previous evening and dug in against an Australia attack which on a deadish wicket was steady rather than penetrative. Mitchell Starc 2/60 has the best figures to date but he was less accurate than the others, none of whom was exactly profligate. Nathan Lyon extracted some turn and, bowling around the wicket, kept Kevin Pietersen if not in check then at least more watchful than in their previous encounters.

There's not much more to say. Even the commentators, if not at a loss for words, found it hard to rise above the banal and trivial, eg asking for statistical assistance to ascertain whether Chris Woakes hitting the first ball he faced in Test cricket for 4 was a record  (I don't recall the answer, but I'd be surprised if others hadn't been there before him). End of my excursion into banality.

Woakes soon - the next  ball- reverted to instructions and added only 11 more from the 48 other balls he faced. He and Ian Bell stayed together until stumps, living to fight another day which, if the weather forecast is not too wide of the mark, may not be the scheduled D4.

Frustrating as it is for Australia, they would have done exactly the same, maybe with a little more positivity, if they'd have been in the same position. Not the best advertisement for Test cricket, but it's part of the whole package, especially in the English summer.

Come rain or shine, a draw looms.

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