Australia took a few giant strides towards sending Michael Clarke out on a winning note with a morale-boosting victory, dominating England with bat and ball on the second day of the fifth Test at The Oval.
Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc carried the tourists to an imposing first innings total of 481, before Mitchell Marsh, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon decimated England’s batting order to leave the hosts reeling at 8/107 at stumps.
After Australia resumed on 3/287, Adam Voges advanced his score to 76 before being trapped lbw by Ben Stokes. Steve Finn dipped out on claiming Smith next ball, overstepping when he had him caught at slip, but the lanky pace-man captured his 100th Test wicket a few overs later as Mitchell Marsh departed for 3.
Moeen Ali brilliantly removed Peter Nevill (caught behind for 18) and Mitchell Johnson (bowled for 0) in the same over, but that brought the big-hitting Starc to the crease with Australia at 7/376.
Smith, who had brought up his 11th Test ton, and Starc put on 91 for the eighth wicket before Finn belatedly dismissed the vice-captain, bowled for 143.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) August 21, 2015
Starc’s thrilling innings came to an end at 58 (off just 52 balls), falling lbw to Stokes, and Finn swiftly wrapped up proceedings with the wicket of Siddle.
England’s opening woes continued, however, with Cook (22) bowled by Lyon in the eighth over just before tea with the score on 30. Adam Lyth’s dreadful run continued when he was out to a lamentable shot off Peter Siddle, who justified his surprise recall by bowling Ian Bell for 10.
Nothing says ‘sheepish’ like the prospect of Adam Lyth parading around the Oval tomorrow with the urn after a 2 1/2 day defeat
— Tim Peach (@TimPeachBBC) August 21, 2015
Root (6) feather-touched Marsh through to the keeper in the next over, while the quartet of Jonny Bairstow (13), Jos Buttler (1), Stokes (15) and Stuart Broad (0) all departed in the space of 6.2 overs for just nine runs.
Marsh (3/18), Siddle (2/18) and Lyon (2/32) were the main beneficiaries of the collapse.
Moeen Ali and Mark Wood saw out the remaining five overs of play, and both will resume on 8 not out on Day 3 – but it shapes as a massive uphill battle for England, still 373 in arrears, from here.
Stud of the day
After an impressive four-wicket first session by England, Starc emphatically reefed back the momentum for Australia with his sizzling cameo. His 58 off 52 included nine boundaries and a six in a wonderful display of power hitting and strokeplay belying his No.9 status.
— Cricket Video (@CricketVideo) August 21, 2015
Finn inexplicably overstepped by three or four inches when he caught Smith’s edge. It should have sent the innings anchor on his way for 92, but Smith instead added another 51 to his total while holding down one end as Starc did his thing. A big lost opportunity for England.
Assuming England can’t accumulate another 173 runs to take the choice out of Australia’s hands, it will be interesting to see whether Clarke opts to enforce the follow-on. It hasn’t been his style to do so – and from a sentimental perspective everyone would like to see Clarke at the crease one more time – but if the remaining two wickets fall cheaply, it would be totally unnecessary for Australia to bat again.
- England still need another 42 runs with two wickets in hand to avoid posting their lowest first-innings total at The Oval in 60 years.
- England’s highest opening partnership in this series is just 32.
- Ten of Smith’s 11 centuries have come in the first innings of a Test, while the other was in the second; he has not posted triple figures in the third or fourth innings of a Test to date.