After a rather even contest between bat and ball yesterday, Day 3 witnessed a brilliant batting performance from England as they put the Aussies to the sword and made them toil for wickets.
Indeed after Swann got a large amount of turn the previous day, much was expected of the ‘spin twins’ Ashton Agar and Steve Smith; however, it was a bit too much for them. In addition, strike bowler Peter Siddle seemed to have lost the sting in his bowling following his three-wicket burst, hurting the Aussies a bit more.
England finished Day 3 on 333/5, a healthy lead of 566 runs and are now firmly in command of the second test at Lord’s.
Here are the Heroes for the Day:
Joe Root (178 n.o. off 334 balls – 18 fours, 2 sixes)
After a lacklustre performance in the first Test and a cheap dismissal in the first innings here, young Yorkshire batsman Joe Root finally came good with a phenomenal display with the bat. Having seen three of his senior colleagues dismissed cheaply yesterday, Root took the onus on himself to steer his side out of troubled waters, mixing caution with aggression and putting on three vital partnerships with the middle order.
First, he paired up with nightwatchman Tim Bresnan (38) to add 99 runs for the fourth wicket and bail England out of a tight spot. In an innings replete with booming drives and pulls, Root smashed leg-spinner Steve Smith for two huge sixes to assert his dominance over the bowlers.
He added 153 runs with the consistent Ian Bell (74) before featuring in an unbeaten 51-run stand with Jonny Bairstow (11 n.o.). In the process, Root became the fourth youngest Englishman to pass 150 in a Test match. A truly magnificent performance and a great way to come out of a rather shaky start to the Ashes.
Ian Bell (74 runs off 103 balls – 11 fours)
The Warwickshire batsman has gone from strength to strength in this series. Having scored back-to-back hundreds in consecutive Ashes innings, he looked set for another one before Steve Smith upset his plans.
However, before he was dismissed, Bell shared a rollicking 153-run stand with Joe Root, hitting 11 boundaries along the way. He played both pace and spin with equal ease and went on to complete yet another fifty in Test cricket. Amazing consistency shown by the 31-year-old.
Tim Bresnan (38 runs off 137 balls – 4 fours)
Bresnan played his role of nightwatchman to the hilt as he held one end up while Root scored freely at the other. Both Yorkshiremen complemented each other perfectly as they wore down the nerves of the Aussie bowlers with a solid 99-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Siddle was struck for twin fours by Bresnan – easily the highlight of his brief innings, before Bresnan skied a catch to Chris Rogers off the less-than impressive James Pattinson. Nevertheless, the burly paceman did his job well as he helped his side recover from a precarious position.
England will look to get some quick runs on the morrow and pile more misery on the Australians. The pitch has eased out considerably for batting, but with Swann, Anderson, Broad and Bresnan around, the Kangaroos will find the going tough. Over to Day 4!