Mitch Marsh. Picture: Getty Images.Australia are likely tohave about five sessions to bowl England out for a second time and complete victory in the secondAshesTest after they remained in a commanding position on Saturday,helped by two crucial breakthroughs by Mitchell Marsh that served to justify his promotion here ahead of Shane Watson.
Ben Stokes (87) and Alastair Cook (96) looked destined for hundreds during a lengthy partnership that hadrestored hope for England but when they bothfell at the hands of Australia’s new all-rounder the tourists’ chances of squaring the series by Monday were enhanced significantly.
Clarke, as is his custom, did not enforce the follow-on despite Australia exceeding England’s first-innings 312 by 254 and the only question now is when he will declare the second innings. That began to plan late on Saturday as Chris Rogers (44not out) and David Warner (60not out) led Australia to stumps at 0-108.The overall lead is now 362. There are are no shortage of runs to be made on this Lord’s pitch butthe highest ever successful fourth-innings chase at the home of cricketwas the West Indies’ 1-344 in1984.
The key moments of the day were undoubtedly the departures of Cook and Stokes, who had set themselves for the kind of marathon union that England were searching for in their bid to save this match.
It had seemed three figures and beyond was an inevitability for Cook – who hasnever scored a century in an Ashes Test at home – as he produced atypically obdurate display, determined not to give victory to Australia despite thecollapse of his top order the afternoon before.
Just before tea, however, and crucially only two overs before the new ball was due, he drove at a ball that angled across him from Marsh and made contact only with the inside edge of his bat. It careered intohis stumps and Cook dropped to his haunchesin disappointment at himself. From there, theEngland tail did not last long as Mitchell Johnson (3-53) and Josh Hazlewood (3-68) swooped.
Stokes earlier had himself to blame as much as Marsh when he also clipped a ball that stayed low back onto his stumps.
Marsh, used in short bursts by Clarke from the Pavilion End, couldn’t claim to have knocked over the duo with unplayable deliveries. There was nothing special about them but there is also no footnotes on the scoreboard. They all count andno more can have been asked of the 23-year-old on Saturday then to take down Cook and Stokes.
“It was nice to get those wickets like that. Itdoesn’t matter how you get them,” Marsh said. “I’ll take a few more chop-ons in the second innings, I’d be happy to have them.
“(With) the attack we’ve got I’m certainly not going to come out and try to blast blokes out.Butwherever the skipper needs me I just want to be there for him and bowl whenever. Hopefully I can do that in the second innings and take a few wickets.
“We’ve got ourselves in a great position now to drive the game. Hopefully we bat well tomorrow and we can put England under some pressure tomorrow afternoon and on day five.I’m sure Michael’s got a total in mind (for England to chase). He’ll talk to us before the game tomorrow or even tonight. I’m not sure but I imagine it will be around the 450 to 500 mark hopefully if we bat well tomorrow.”
Stokes said: “We’vegot to get our heads around that we’re probably going to have to batabout 150 overs to try and save the game.If there’s ever a wicket todo it on, it’s this one.”
Marsh ended with 2-23 from his eight overs, just the kind of contribution selectors desire from their fourth seamer in support of the frontline attack. The man he replaced at Lord’s, Shane Watson, spent some time on the ground on Saturday, fielding at first slip in place of Adam Voges, who sat out the day with a bruised hip from aStokes sweep he wore at short-leg on Friday afternoon.”I think it’s just a part of being in Dad’s Army…his bones are a bit brittle”, Marsh joked of Voges.
As for Watson, he put on his own show, playing up to the broadcaster’s cameras with his shirt off in the dressing room later in the day.
The more Marsh performs in the middle, though, the furtherWatsonwill be away from another opportunity.
While the new all-rounder collected the two big wickets, Johnson was unlucky his figures were not even better. He hadCook dropped by Steve Smith at square leg on 63 and then after celebrating what looked a brilliant low catch by Peter Nevill of Jos Buttler, the third umpireChris Gaffaney judged the ball to have touched the grass.
Hazlewood, whose pitch map looks like a dollop of tomato sauce has been dropped on the strip so precise is he,was also excellent while Nathan Lyon (1-53), who ended up having Buttler(13)caught behind, could have had another if not for umpire Kumar Dharmasenaturning down his lbw appeal against Moeen Ali (39) when the ball appeared to be taking a big piece of leg stump.
Warner was later fortunate himself not to be caughtbefore scoring by Adam Lyth, who made a mess of an edge that he should have taken at gully. Lyth’s contribution to this match is now a second-ball duck, one maiden over and a dropped catch.
Marsh then left the post-day press conference, where the team’s player of the day is usually sent,making no doubt about his own ambitions for Sunday.
“Hopefully I’ll see you back in heretomorrow night,” he said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.