The Ashes 2015 – Second Test, Day 3: English curators, how to produce your own death

In what is the second successive English Ashes series of pitch ‘doctoring’ occurring, the practice has been widely lamented but legally allowed. After the first Test at Sophia Gardens, the lifeless pitch was yet again blamed for the Aussies’ demise but no action was outwardly taken.

This follows the same pattern as the 2013 series, with Graeme Swann basking in dustbowls that ultimately closed down the inspired Aussies in a turbulent series. With James Anderson and Stuart Broad working miracles with the swinging Duke just a week ago in Cardiff, the same old curse of the doctored pitch seemed to be looming over the Australian team’s heads.

Sure, they had absolutely smashed the Poms into submission at high quality and responsive pitches in Australia, but the complete bluntness and devoid of life pitches still managed to stymie the Aussies.

But, after a tough series of matches in England that spanned back to the horror series of ’05, the Aussies seemed to finally break the curse of the doctored pitches on day three at Lord’s, as the highly feared pace attack of the Australians broke through in a way that had not occurred at the hallowed ground since McGrath’s spell ten years ago.

The day’s play began in any normal fashion, with the bell being rung five minutes before the commencement of play, with Cook and Stokes striding out to the centre of the sloped surface after managing to cling onto their wickets in the face of a torrid storm.

With Stokes managing to flourish in embattling conditions, his stroke play and timing was yet again on song, with the searing pace produced by Johnson and co. being dispatched in an extraordinary and brazen way. Backed up with the reliability and steadiness of Cook, the young all-rounder appeared to have the Aussie bowling attack at his feet.

The captain and his bullish all-rounder packed together a 145 run partnership before one all-rounder struck against another. The even younger and just as aggressive Mitch Marsh proved just why he replaced Watson, with a testing spell ending in a chop on for Stokes, with Marsh removing his English counterpart for a well-made 87.

After England’s self-implosion at the face of Johnson in the Australian summer of 2013/14, some older and more boring heads were disposed of for fresher and more attacking players. A prime example of this change of the guard is Buttler, with the exciting wicketkeeper arriving to the crease to prove his worth.

Unfortunately for him, the first gamer in Nevill ended his stay early, or so it appeared, with Johnson’s third wicket of the innings being denied as the Aussie wicketkeeper’s screamer appearing to just scrape the turf. After getting a reprieve, could the young keeper make the most of it?

Fortunately for Australia, the second life of Buttler lasted for only a short amount of time, as the typical Aussie in Lyon delivering a catch to Nevill and another wicket to Australia.
The overnight resistance seemed to slowly crumble, with a 56 run partnership between Cook and Ali ending with the removal of the captain, as Marsh forced another chop-on to stop Cook just four runs short of a well-deserved century.

The legend of Marsh then produced an onslaught, with Hazlewood removing Ali after some controversial times, as the fall of England occurred just 18 runs later, leaving the finished tally at 312.

Leading the way were two of the pace contingent that were talked-up highly before the series, with Johnson and Hazlewood claiming three scalps each, as Marsh picked up the two crucial wickets of the danger twins.

After such a magnanimous breakdown of England’s confident batting line up, the man for the occasion appeared to be Warner.

With a sub-par start to the series, the tiny dynamo that is David Warner was presented a delicious golden platter that even an out of form Davey can’t resist. The game was well and truly ripped out of England’s hands and tossed far from their eye line by a bullish and explosive pocket rocket with a bat matching a massive club.

After only 26 overs being sent down by the Poms to close out the day, the New South Welshman was left on 60, with his usually slow and stagnant partner in Rogers climbing along to a respectable 44 not out. If he was batting with anyone else, Rogers would appear to be racking up runs at a fast rate, but next to a hyped-up Warner with a sniff of blood, he looked more like an old grandfather with a walking frame, such was the speed that Warner smacked England around the packed Lord’s ground.

A massive lead of over 300 and a bowling attack almost as inspired as its flying opening batsman. What more could you want from a cricket team? After the breaking of the doctored pitch curse, maybe a fired up Johnson is the cream on top of the marvellous pavlova that can only be savoured by a proud Aussie.

Stumps- Day 3
England 312 all out (90.1 overs)
Cook 96
Stokes 87
Ali 39

Johnson 3-53 (20.1)
Hazlewood 3-68 (22)
Marsh 2-23 (8)

Australia 0-108 (26 overs)
Warner 60*
Rogers 44*


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  1. Dave Brown says

    Thanks Sean. When it comes to Marsh’s bowling I think the ‘it’s better to be lucky’ saying applies (somewhat unfairly)

  2. The pitches give too much advantage to the team that wins the toss.
    Australia’s pitches were the same last year, built to last five days if teams bat sensibly.
    I like grass on the wicket.
    It gives the bowlers an even chance.
    Winning Test matches shouldn’t be conditional on winning the toss.

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