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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Australia proceed steadily towards victory, despite Cook's resistance: T5D3

England 149 (48.4ov, Moeen Ali 30, Wood 24, Cook 22, Johnson 8.4-4-21-3, M Marsh 9-2-30-3, Siddle 2/32, Lyon 2/40) & 6/203 (79ov, Cook 85/234b/11x4, Buttler 33*/80b/3x4, Lyon 2/52, Siddle 16-10-14-1, Smith 1-0-7-1, Marsh 1/28, Johnson 1/51) need 129 more runs to avoid an innings defeat: T5/5 D3/5 at The Oval.

Once England's tail had wagged a little more and Mitchell Johnson had removed the principal waggers Moeen Ali and Mark Wood, Michael Clarke went against his previous practice and relied on his commonsense to enforce the follow on.

England, or more specifically Alistair Cook, made a better fist of things at the second attempt. But Cook's dismissal, caught at short leg off Steven Smith in the closing minutes of the day's play, must surely have, barring very heavy rain, sealed their fate, but not of course their recovery of the Ashes.

Cook's judicious strokeplay and exemplary (until that mistake) contrasted with the lack thereof of most of his teammates. A few of them played one or two good strokes, but none of the top order came close to matching Cook. Only Jos Buttler (who isn't, on his form thus far in the series a bona fide top order batter) managed to survive against the unrelenting Australian attack, in which Peter Siddle's economy was the highlight for me. I didn't think he was up to it, but am happy to acknowledge my error of judgment, unlike Shane Warne who on TV has continued to pooh-pooh him as a medium pacer. Some medium pacer, say I.

If all goes to plan the Test should finish on day 4. Even if things don't work out quite as Australia hope they have a considerable margin of safety in terms of runs and, maybe, time. The major threat is rain, which is forecast,as  I understand, for each of the last two days, though not for the entire days's play. Australia should win this one from here, but if England manage to hang on for a draw it won't be the first time that English weather has spoilt proceedings. Let's wait and see.

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