Australia 7/527 dec. & 7/172 (DA Warner 41, MJ Clarke 30*, TT Bresnan 2/25, JM Anderson 2/37) v England 368 (KP Pieterson 113, PM Siddle 4/63)
Australia lead by 331 runs
Once again Test cricket has shot itself in the foot with its archaic rulings. Despite the floodlights being on and the batting team’s captain at the wicket and desperate to bat on, umpires Marais Erasmus and Tony Hill, as is their right, made a judgement that the light was too poor to continue and took the players from the field. While the rain eventually came, that decision cost the Australians at least half an hour and makes the job of winning this Test and staying in the series much harder. Even the crowd in attendance booed the decision to walk off, the only ones happy would have been Alistair Cook and his men who with their slow over rates are already in playing-for-a-draw mode.
England resumed on Day 4 at 7/294, still needing 34 runs to avoid the follow on. Prior and Broad had little trouble in reaching this target and not long after Broad edged Lyon to Haddin and decided he was a walker after all and promptly took off to the pavilion. SCJ Broad is as genuine as a Zimbabwean election. Walking then showed signs it may be contagious as Broad’s Nottinghamshire mate Graeme Swann was also afflicted with the condition after edging Siddle through to Haddin. After successfully farming the strike Prior was the final English wicket to fall, the Poms 159 behind on the 1st innings. Siddle’s great series continues, taking 4/63 and further justifying his world number 5 Test bowling ranking. Lyon bowled tightly but without penetration, he has quickened his action and pace of his deliveries, no doubt to counter players like Pieterson and Bell who are quick to use their feet. The trade off is that he looks far less likely to take wickets. A big career day ahead on Day 5 for the off-spinner.
In another attacking (presumably) Lehmann move, Warner is elevated to open alongside Rogers as the Australians chase quick runs. The New South Welshman looks much more comfortable against the new ball than starting against spin like he did in the first dig. He bats well until pulling a short Bresnan delivery straight to Joe Root of all people at deep mid wicket. Despite losing regular wickets the Aussie batsmen score at nearly 5 an over. Khawaja bats brightly until being bowled around his legs by Swann, Smith hits a couple of cracking straight drives until running himself out, Watson and Haddin get out playing very ordinary but understandable shots given the situation of the match. At least Watto was actually playing for the team and not himself this time.
7/172 when the players are taken from the field, Clarke on 30 and Harris yet to score. The forecast for Manchester on Monday is 18 and rain. If the rain holds off it appears likely Australia will bowl straight away. England will be playing out time as all they need is a draw to retain the Ashes. Time for Lyon to toss the ball up, give it a rip and try and take some wickets. Or he will end up on the scrapheap like Dan Cullen and Nathan Hauritz who both started out just like Lyon did, bowling well flighted, turning off breaks. And finished bowling like Lyon does now.