Heading into the start of day day four at Lord’s on Sunday, England find themselves in a situation from where they would need a miraculous batting effort in the second innings to save the Test. With two full days to go, Australia had already raked up a lead well in excess of 350, and aren’t expected to show any mercy to the hosts. England’s effort has been very much in contrast to the one at Cardiff that they put up a week or so ago, and they should be extremely disappointed with the same.
What has separated the two teams in the contest so far is the fact that England have batted poorly in spite of the benign nature of the pitch. In fact, when Australia have batted, the surface has looked in complete contrast to when English batsmen have been at the crease. Agreed, England were under a lot of pressure as they were chasing Australia’s massive first innings total. But, if ever they needed a pitch on which they could come up with a response, this was it.
Looking at the manner in which they batted on day three, it must be said that they lost a golden opportunity to put a big score on the board themselves. After a horror start, Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes displayed a lot of intent as they went about rebuilding the innings, and giving England some semblance of hope. But, the rest could not stand up and deliver, which was a must. Also, Cook and Stokes batted very well, but both got out just as they were about to get their respective hundreds. This was in contrast to Chris Rogers and Steven Smith, who made massive scores.
Speaking of Australia, they should be extremely pleased with the manner in which they bowled on day three in spite of the fact that Cook and Stokes batted with grit. The performance of Mitchell Marsh, who was brought in for Shane Watson in the Test, would have particularly pleased them. Marsh’s bowling was being considered the weaker of his talents, but he proved on Saturday that he can be effective in Tests as well. Marsh got the big scalps of the two set batsmen, Cook and Stokes, both of whom were undone by his accuracy as they looked to drive.
There were more positives for Australia in the batting as well, with David Warner learning from his first innings dismissal, and going on to compile a much more mature half-century. Having failed at Cardiff, he will now be keen to make amends, and carry on complete a century. Australia are already in the ascendancy, and a big knock from Warner will be an added advantage. Chris Rogers is approaching another half-century, and would be extremely pleased that he is going out of Test cricket on a high.
-- By A Cricket Analyst