After a dramatic batting collapse late last night, England were left facing another tough day. A blue Oval greeted both sides, as Cricket United was supported by players, pundits and spectators alike. The only thing that might have dampened the spirits of any England spectators would have been a glance up at the scoreboard. At 92-8, the homeside were up against it and already looking for the weather to provide some support.
Regardless of any weather interference though, England would have to bat much better than they did in the first innings if they were to take the game into tomorrow. Mark Wood and Moeen Ali (the former, averaging 42.5 this series incidentally) were the men in, and just had to look to bat for as long as they could. Both played well initially during the morning session, but Wood’s expansive innings came to an end before too long. He made 24 before top-edging one straight up in the air, granting mid-wicket an easy chance. Steven Finn didn’t have any time to construct a similar cameo though, as Moeen followed Wood back into the hut for 30 the very next ball. 149 all out represented a very poor effort from England, and, barring any miraculous second innings performances, the end of any hopes of a 4-1 victory.
Adam Lyth will have been desperate for a score in his last innings this summer. Without wanting to sound too dramatic, this probably was his last chance. Alex Hales has been racking up big scores in the county championship, and is breathing down the Yorkshire opener’s neck. Unfortunately for England and Lyth, he failed again. Trudging off for 10, he looked rather disgruntled and arguably somewhat despondent. Perhaps his test career is over for now, but he will undoubtedly get another chance. While he hasn’t scored any runs this series, he has shown enough indicators that he is a very good player. He has obvious issues outside off-stump, but if he can iron out those deficiencies there is no reason he can’t succeed at this level.
England continued to lose wickets while Alastair Cook watched on. While the score at lunch read 30-1, the home side were five down with half an hour to go in the day. Cook had battled through the day while his team mates had fallen around him, and he would surely have been desperate for a hundred here. Never having made a hundred in ashes cricket in England, the skipper looked almost as heartbroken as his opening partner after he edged one to short leg off Steve Smith. Of all bowlers to take the England captain’s wicket, it had to be a part timer. Cook made 85, but for the umpteenth time this series he had looked as though he might bat all day.
While Cook fell, England had not quite. Mark Wood came in as the night watchman, with England six down and trailing by 129. The rain will simply have to come to England’s rescue, but if they can negotiate the morning session it might just do that. Forecasts look wet after around 13:00 tomorrow, and the homeside will be crossing their fingers that the met office have it right.
It’s hardly all doom and gloom, we’ve won the ashes after all. That said, it must be slightly worrying that England haven’t batted well all series when they’ve been under pressure. At Lord’s and yesterday, in the face of scoreboard pressure, England have crumbled. That will have to be sorted out going forward, as the bowlers aren’t always going to be able to skittle the opposition for 60.
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