Saturday 21 October 2017 / 02:15 PM

The Ashes – Aussies Continue To Impress

Spinner Nathan Lyon spearhead an efficient Australian bowling display on day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Durham as England were reduced to 238/9 at the close of play.

Lyon took four wickets for just 42 runs to prove his worth in the tourists chosen eleven as Michael Clarke’s men continued to dominate as they had in Manchester just a few days ago.

The weather primarily denied an Australia victory at Old Trafford and based on current form, they have to be fancied to halve their series arrears in the North East barring similar interruptions.

Alistair Cook won the toss for England and elected to bat, a decision which appeared correct on balance with conditions above average before play and a lush outfield seemingly waiting to be utilised.

And the hosts looked in decent shape midway through the afternoon session having reached 107/1, Cook contributing well on his way towards a solid half century however Joe Root will be disappointed having again fallen cheaply for just 16 after edging Shane Watson’s delivery through to Brad Haddin.

Trott was on 49 before becoming Lyon’s first victim of the match, Usman Khawaja taking an assured catch at short leg, and he struck again not long after to remove Kevin Pietersen who uncomfortably pushed on through to Haddin – England’s star batsmen deflated upon returning to the pavilion for 26.

When Cook lost his wicket lbw for 51 to a blinder from new starter Jackson Bird, England suddenly looked on the ropes at 153/4 and the Aussies sensed they once again had the upper hand.

And their thoughts were confirmed when Lyon pounced again to send England’s Mr. Consistency Ian Bell packing for just 6 – leaving the hosts on the brink of collapse at tea.

Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and the increasingly underwhelming Jonny Bairstow all failed to prevent just that, the latter being Lyon’s fourth scalp of a very profitable and economical performance, with Tim Bresnan and Jimmy Anderson being the only pair to fend off the rampant Aussie attack at stumps.

The tail enders are likely to go through the motions at the start of play on Saturday before Australia take over at the crease – and Clarke’s charges will be confident of running all over England’s total which should not exceed 250.

Definitely not one of the better days for English cricket but the crowd at Durham will be hoping that the pitch also had something to do with the hosts poor showing and they will anticipate a strong effort from the likes of Anderson and Broad with ball in hand at the weekend.

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Chris Kisby

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