|Bell was superb|
Clarke, like most modern captains, doesn't believe in the time honoured wisdom of follow-ons. There has been a paradigm shift that old hard-nosed Oxford man Douglas Jardine would never have approved of ... one which seeks to conserve the fragile bones and muscles of fast bowlers lest the little dears break. As physically well developed and nutritionally enhanced as the modern quick is, he isn't allowed or expected to be the hard man of yester year.
For Australia captains, the spectre of VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid and the Eden Gardens miracle, is also a prominent page in their training manual.
As a result, the follow on is seldom enforced.
Necessity is very much the mother of invention and despite their heroics at Trent Bridge, the utter capitulation at Lords has left Australia with no choice.
By stumps, inspired by a Kevin Pietersen century which encapsulated everything about this South African/English hybrid that can only be termed enigma, England are close to retaining the Ashes. There should be sufficient resources left on a wicket that is still playing very well, for them to secure the last 34 runs to take the game to a draw.
|Kevin Pietersen 113|
The innings of the day belonged to Ian Bell, who looked completely at ease with
another classy display of cover drives and back cuts. He looks so composed at the crease and it was a surprise when Ryan Harris shaped one back on off stump and castled him. It ended a century partnership with Pietersen which has probably retained the Ashes.
|Starc claims Pietersen|
Harris, Peter Siddle and Watson all bowled well under the conditions which were still plumb for batting. The Australia bowling unit, at its best, can toil on the right lines for hours, a trait needed to remove the Englishmen. Lyon, who ripped and tore on the previous evening, was surprisingly largely infective, extracting no frightening turn and was rather easily intimidated. He is the one bowler Clarke would like to bowl in long spells but wasn't able to. He looked fragile.
Where there is life there is hope but with noted bat swingers Prior, Broad and Swann amongst the remainder and the second new ball already halfway through its use, that follow on target looks too close.
However, after Lords, these three days have been a massive improvement. Australian cricket fans are still burping on the richness of the feed they received during the twenty years before Ricky Ponting retired and wondering when the next course will arrive. As a result, everything coming from the kitchen is expected to be cordon bleu.
Perhaps bangers and mash might do for a while.
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