Cardiff (UK): England established a useful lead in the first Ashes Test at Sophia Gardens on Friday after making short work of Australia’s lower order. At lunch on the third day, England were 21 for one in their second innings — 143 runs in front. Adam Lyth was seven not out and Gary Ballance nought not out after surviving some fiery overs from Australia’s quicks.
It seemed England might have an absolutely ideal morning by reaching lunch without losing a wicket. But shortly before the interval, England captain Alastair Cook exited for 12 in Mitchell Starc’s opening over when he drove the left-arm paceman low to Nathan Lyon at point.
Earlier, England dismissed Australia for 308 in reply to their own 430. That gave them a first-innings lead of 122 which owed much to Joe Root’s 134 and Moeen Ali’s 77. Australia opener Chris Rogers’s 95 on Thursday was the top score of an innings where the next best effort was skipper Michael Clarke’s 38.
The tourists struggled in the face of tight pace bowling backed up by off-spinner Ali capturing the key wickets of Steven Smith and Clarke. Ashes-holders Australia, bidding to win their first series in Britain in 14 years, lost their last five wickets for 44 runs on Friday after resuming on 264 for five.
They saw two wickets go down having added just one run to their total. Shane Watson, not for the first time, was lbw playing round his front pad, as he fell for 30 to Stuart Broad. Watson reviewed but replays showed the ball clipping the top of leg stump.
It was the 28th time Watson had been lbw in a Test, with his percentage of leg before dismissals, 26.66, the highest of any player with at least 100 innings at this level. The all-rounder’s exit meant numbers three, four five and six (Steven Smith, Clarke, Adam Voges and Watson) had all fallen in the 30s for the first time in any Test innings.
Then 265 for six became 265 for seven when nightwatchman Lyon was plumb lbw to fast bowler Mark Wood. Brad Haddin, so often a thorn in England’s side, struck three fours in as many balls off Ben Stokes during a brisk 22 but was undone by the new ball when he edged James Anderson to opposing wicket-keeper Jos Buttler.
Anderson (three for 43) ended the innings when Root held a sharp catch at third slip to dismiss Starc.