Friday, July 10, 2015

The Ashes: Cardiff Test, Day Two

And so, to day two. A fairly even opening day to the Ashes (feels like a long time since that's been said), would anyone grab the initiative on day two? After the wicket of Jos Buttler the previous evening, England begin the day on 343-7, looking to get as close to 400 as possible. Australia, meanwhile, search for some bowling consistency. Here's the action from another enthralling day down in the Welsh capital.

Stuart Broad gets off the mark, and also scores England's first boundary of the day off the bowling of Hazlewood, with a lovely drive straight down the ground.
Sadly I didn't have the creative ability to recreate the next delivery, but Broad decided to duck into a shorter ball (thinking it would be a bouncer) and ended up heading it away. If it'd been on the stumps and a bit lower, it would've been a decent HBW shout.
Johnson switches to around the wicket in the hope of getting a breakthrough and it almost works. He gives Broad a short ball up near his armpit, which Broad can only fend off up in the air. Adam Voges springs into action, hoping to take the catch...

Which Johnson and the others Australians, the umpires and even Broad think he's done cleanly. After untangling themselves in the middle of the pitch, Broad begins to walk off but changes his mind. Replays show that Voges didn't get his fingers under the ball and part of the ball was touching the ground. It's a good effort from Voges, especially for someone approaching 500, but Broad survives. Boos ring out from the Cardiff crowd, because it's the Ashes, and clearly England never wrongfully claim wickets
Meanwhile at the other end, Moeen Ali's in a hurry as well. With a massive slice of luck, he reaches his 50 with an inside edged boundary.
Mo sheepishly raises his bat, wishing that the glorious cover drive a couple of deliveries ago had been the shot to take him to 50.
Nathan Lyon returns and strikes with his first ball. Broad, looking for a massive slog, ends up bottom edging the ball behind instead.
Brad Haddin, having thrown himself around for the fast bowlers, is grateful that this catch doesn't require much movement and hangs on. Broad goes for 18 and England are 395-8.
And soon, the fun's over. Mooen, going for an extravagant drive, ends up edging it to Watson at first slip. 
Watson, ever the drama queen, nearly falls over when taking the catch but hangs on. Moeen goes for a highly entertaining 77 and England, having passed 400, find themselves 419-9.
Mark Wood joins the boundary fun by smashing Starc away for a lovely driven boundary. Jimmy tries to join in too, advancing down the pitch to Starc. Unfortunately for him, his stumps get destroyed and England finish on 430 all out. The wicket of Anderson also hands Starc a 5fer, his figures being 5-114. He isn't the only Australian bowler to reach a century - Mitchell Johnson, England's 13/14 nemesis, picks up figures of 0-111. His century is greeted with cheers from the Cardiff crowd and he responds good-naturedly by kissing the badge on his baggy green.
 England's innings closes on 430 all out, something that looked a million miles away when Ian Bell went to leave England 43-3. Calculated aggression from Moeen Ali, and a bit of help from Broad and Wood, mean that England have added 87 in little over an hour's play. With the innings break, there's around 40 or so minutes for Chris Rogers and David Warner to bat before lunch.
Anderson and Broad open the bowling for England and four byes off the first ball gets the Australian innings up and running. Broad's first over is eventful. Alastair Cook convinces Broad not to review an LBW shout on Warner, only to forget how to say "no" a few balls later as they go upstairs for a shout off Rogers. It's absolutely stone dead LBW, apart from the inside edge Rogers gets onto his pads.

Rogers gets the first boundary of the Australian innings as Broad sends down some wide filth.
Australia make it to the lunch break 26-0.

Warner is given out LBW off the bowling of Jimmy, but he decides to review it just in the nick of time. It turns out he's correct to review as the ball pitched outside leg. It ends up not mattering too much as he looks to drive a full Jimmy delivery, but ends up nicking it behind...
Where Cook, to the relief of Buttler, takes a good catch high up as he dives to his right.Warner departs for 17 and Australia are 52-1.
It brings to the crease Steven Peter Devereux Smith and his third ball is quite a painful one as he edges it...
Only for it to bounce in front of Alastair Cook and hit him right in his tender region. Cook receives a lot of sympathy from his team mates, especially Joe Root who responds like he's Homer Simpson watching a Hans Moleman Productions film
Cook leaves the field to receive as much treatment as someone who's been hit in the gonads can get. Dean Cosker comes on as the 12th man, prompting Michael Clarke to crack another Dad's Army themed joke in the Australian dressing room.
Godfrey Chris Rogers cuts Moeen Ali away for two taking him past 50.
He becomes the fifth batsman in Test history to make seven successive half-centuries.Quite some achievement.
Smith looks to attack Moeen, coming down the track to absolutely batter him down the ground for a boundary.
But Moeen has the last laugh. Smith, in a shot that is so horrendous that it was incredibly difficult to capture, advances down the pitch, gets into a right tangle and ends up clipping the ball...
Straight into the waiting hands of a patched up Alastair Cook. Steve Smith is gone for 38.
A huge wicket for England. Australia head into the tea break on 145-2.
Broad gives Rogers some short stuff and he ends up top edging one delivery...
Over the head of Moeen Ali for 6 runs. It's his first 6 in Test cricket. 
Meanwhile, the partnership between Rogers and Clarke develops. Clarke, being given some short stuff as well, looks uncomfortable but is surviving. He pulls one from Wood behind for 4, although it's not exactly where he intended for it to go.
Rogers seems to be approaching a much deserved century until disaster strikes. Attempting to cut a ball from Wood, that's a bit too close to him, he ends up edging behind.
Buttler gleefully takes the catch and Wood runs off in celebration at his first Ashes wicket. Jubilation for England, despair for Rogers as he goes for 95. At the non-striker's end, Michael Clarke is not at all happy with the shot either. Australia are 180-3.
One old man is replaced by a slightly younger old man in the form of Adam Voges. But it is captain Clarke who goes next. Also looking to be positive against spin, he advances down the pitch looking to smack Moeen down straight down the ground.
Instead he smacks it straight into the hands of Moeen, who takes a very good catch. Clarke is gone for 38 and Australia are 207-4.
In comes Shane Watson, in what is probably a big innings for him given the impressive batting performances of Mitchell Marsh in the warm up matches. Watson, too, looks to be aggressive against Moeen. He comes down the pitch and clips this shot over the on side for 4.
Shane Watson has had an LBW shout turned down against him, which England don't review as it is clearly too high. Watson and Voges bring up yet another 50 partnership in the match. But England, led by some miserly bowling from Ben Stokes, sense something is going to happen. And it does. With 10 minutes to go, Voges, for whatever reason, decides to chase a full one from Ben Stokes.
And he smashes it straight to Jimmy Anderson at short extra cover. Jimmy throws the ball up in jubilation and Stokes is fired up (knew a light up duck would be handy one day). 
Australia take Essex's lead and send in a nightwatchman. Joe Root gets incredibly excited and puts himself in a helmet and moves in very, very close as a third slip. It almost works. But Lyon holds on and even hits a boundary, pulling one round the corner.
Where Moeen makes a bit of a mess of stopping it. 
Australia survive the day and close on 264-5. The wicket of Voges allows England a small smile and means that they may just be ahead, but this is, of course, Test cricket. It's an utterly enthralling contest.
A massive wicket for England towards the close of play and they probably feel they're just ahead. The day belongs to two left handed batsmen, though. Moeen Ali's aggression in the morning session, combined with the two massive wickets of Smith and Clarke, have shown just how valuable a player he is to the England set-up. Chris Rogers played exceptionally well for his 95 before he handed Mark Wood his first Ashes wicket.

Anyway, this Test canters along at quite a pace. Will tomorrow bring an inevitable Brad Haddin century? When will the continuous references to the 2009 Cardiff Test send Ricky Ponting over the edge? Will Alastair Cook be able to father any more children? All this and more, tomorrow (if I'm not crying over the results at Wimbledon). 

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