Monday 21 August 2017 / 12:40 PM

The Ashes – Siddle Keeps Aussies On Top

Australia tightened their stranglehold on the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford on Friday after declaring on 527/7 to leave England firmly on the rack.

And the hosts stumbled twice early into their reply to reach stumps on 52/2, 475 runs adrift of the tourists who look set to halve their series deficit come the weekend.

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke had proved to be the real highlight of day one with an unbeaten century and he took to the crease on Friday morning intent on picking up from where he left off.

The England attack continued to struggle containing the 32-year-old who breezed through the first session before finally falling mid afternoon for a brilliant 187 to Stuart Broad who notched up his 200th Test wicket.

Steven Smith, who played the main supporting role to Clarke, eventually went for 89 whilst Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc also waded in with impressive half centuries.

 

Having outclassed England for five sessions, Clarke felt it right to declare shortly after tea and put England in the unenviable position of going into bat for the last two hours of the day.

Openers Alistair Cook and Joe Root will have hoped to fend off the Australian seamers until Saturday’s play however their alliance was broken on 47 as Root edged a Peter Siddle delivery into the grasp of wicketkeeper Haddin.

 

England then deployed Tim Bresnan as nightwatchman but their plan backfired miserably as the tail-ender lost his wicket for just the solitary run, again to Siddle who bowled wonderfully during his spell.

The hosts will take optimism from the fact that they built a strong total after losing three early wickets during their first innings in the second Test at Lords.

But with runs already on the board for Australia this time around, a strong response is likely to be a tall order unless Cook and new batsman Jonathan Trott can see things out to lunch, at a minimum, on Saturday.

Clarke will be delighted with his captain’s display and indeed the contributions of his team mates who helped form what should be a winning first innings score, barring a major turnaround or vast change in the Manchester weather.

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Chris Kisby

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