The day started well for England, and for Moeen Ali in particular. If the Worcestershire man’s place in the team as the number one spinner has been a matter for some debate, his ability to bat is anything but. He’s one of the best number 8s England have ever had, and played some classy strokes first up on day 2. Stuart Broad fans will also have been particularly chuffed to see him given not out upon umpire review, after deciding to walk off the field this time.
Ali and the tail added an invaluable 80 today, with he himself hitting 77. While he will be judged on his performances with the ball in this match, a few runs won’t be doing him any harm at all. The England bowlers then had a chance to get at Australia’s openers, and although David Warner had to survive an LBW review, he and Rogers survived until lunch. Warner then fell to a sharp catch at second slip by Alastair Cook, off the bowling of James Anderson. The score sat on 52-1 when Steve Smith came to the crease.
One of the world’s best batsmen, Smith seemed to be moving very quickly through the gears. He really took to Moeen Ali, hitting him for 3 boundaries in an over. Ali then added to his successful day though, as he had Smith caught at short mid-on, Alastair Cook claiming the catch once more. All this time Chris Rogers was moving along nicely, rarely looking troubled, and scoring at a fair lick.
Rogers continued to frustrate the England bowlers, looking in control for the vast majority of the time. He moved through the 60s and 70s, but before he got within touching distance of his hundred Stuart Broad was able to rough him up somewhat. On a slow pitch, Broad’s short balls made the opener look rather uncomfortable. Mark Wood bowled well in a partnership with Broad, and picked up his first ashes wicket when Rogers edged behind for 95. He was then followed back into the shed by Michael Clarke not too long after, Moeen taking a sharp catch off his own bowling. At 207-4, the game was once again very finely poised.
Adam Voges and Shane Watson then began to build a healthy partnership, but Ben Stokes provided a timely breakthrough as Voges hit him straight to Anderson. All through Australia’s innings, England continued to take wickets. Just as it looked as though the batsmen might well get away from England, the breakthrough came. On this sort if pitch that is perhaps typical. It’s not the worst pitch for getting in, but equally it’s as difficult once the batsmen are ‘in’.
Once again, it’s quite even. England still have a lead of 166, with 5 wickets to take. The home side bowled very well, and remained disciplined. Their lines were strict, and they were more consistent than Australia. However, should Watson and Haddin make significant contributions, the game might just swing towards the Aussies. If England can take a couple of early wickets, they are well in control, but if it goes the other way then they will have to bat very well in the third innings to avoid any scares.