Friday 19 January 2018 / 02:33 PM

The Ashes: 1st Test – Day 3 wrap

Australia has been set an imposing fourth-innings target of 412 in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens after both sides’ bowlers dominated Day 3. Fifteen wickets fell on an enthralling day, with Australia dismissed for 308 after resuming on 5/264, and England posting 289 in their second dig.

The tourists’ tail was unable to replicate the wagging effort of their English counterparts, with Shane Watson (30) and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon (6) both departing lbw – to Stuart Broad and Mark Wood respectively – with only one run added to the overnight score.

Brad Haddin (22) and Mitchell Johnson (14) added 39 in quick time but were removed within three balls of each other, and James Anderson had Mitchell Starc out for a duck in the next over as Australia lasted less than 15 overs of the morning’s play with the last five wickets falling for just 43 runs.

England was in early strife at 2/22 when Mitchell Starc dismissed Alistair Cook for 12 and Josh Hazlewood had Gary Ballance caught behind for a duck. But Adam Lyth and Ian Bell added 44 in a whirlwind five-over period before Nathan Lyon claimed Lyth (37) in the 20th over with the hosts on 73.

A timely 60 from out-of-sorts stalwart Bell and an identical score from first-innings stud Joe Root lifted England to 5/207. Ben Stokes (42) and No.10 Wood (32 not out) also made handy contributions to take the lead past the 400 mark.

Mitchell Johnson belatedly found some wicket-taking form to snare the key scalps of Bell and Moeen Ali (15), while Hazlwood and Starc also took two each and Lyon finished with 4/75 from 20.1 overs, wrapping up England’s innings by bowling Anderson for 1.

Australia are staring down the barrel of needing the third-highest successful run chase in Test history to take a 1-0 lead in the series, with England unquestionably in control with two days to play.

England has continued with the positive, exciting cricket that marked their thrilling recent series against New Zealand, and have outplayed a seemingly underdone – or slightly complacent – Australian outfit.

In another setback for the under-siege Aussies, an ankle injury suffered by Mitchell Starc has the paceman in doubt for the second Test at Lord’s, with veteran Peter Siddle waiting in the wings to replace him.

Stud of the day

Ian Bell had been struggling big-time, averaging 6.22 in his last nine innings before anchoring England’s second dig with a superb 60 that contained 11 boundaries. One of the world’s best when on song, Bell’s return to form could be a massive boost for England’s hopes of an upset series triumph.

Key moment

Australia needed Shane Watson to kick on and push their total well into the 300s, but he failed in the grittiness department yet again by falling lbw in the second over of Day 3. It gave England the impetus to wrap up the innings quickly and cement a big lead. If Watson is unable to make a telling contribution in the tourists’ second dig, Mitchell Marsh will almost certainly come into the side for the Lord’s Test. The maligned all-rounder has just two half-centuries to show for his last 15 innings.

Looking ahead

This Test is England’s to lose, and while the side’s mental fortitude may have been strenuously questioned in recent years – particularly against Australia – their performance in Cardiff to date and their recent displays against the Black Caps suggest the hosts will go on to win from here. There’s still bucketloads of time, however, and a big knock from Warner, Smith or Clarke can swing the match back in favour of Australia. It’s a gettable target – even if history says it is unlikely.

Fun facts

  • Joe Root became just the second English batsman in the last 22 years to score a 100 and a 50 in a home Ashes Test; the only other player to achieve the feat during that time is Bell, who posted 109 and 74 at Lord’s in 2013.
  • Anderson’s three wickets took his career tally to 406, overtaking West Indian great Curtly Ambrose into 11th place in Test history.
  • Brad Haddin has been dismissed by Anderson seven times in Tests, more than any other bowler.
  • England has lost just one home Ashes Test after gaining a first-innings lead of more than 100 runs – at Old Trafford in 1961. 

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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