England continue making inroads in Australia’s first innings
Australia batted as if the clock had been rewound to the 1950s, scoring at 2.07 an over and setting out their stall to grind down the Dad’s Army England attack in order to finish them off later today.
We are seeing two Test cricket philosophies playing out in real time. Both sides stubbornly stick to their plans, refuse to take a leaf out of the other’s book, and time will tell which one can claim victory.
At the moment Australia will be happy with their work – 54 runs for one wicket in the session – but they are still 168 behind England and the hard graft will be for nothing if they lose a few quick wickets after the break.
England bowled well, beat the bat plenty of times and there were very few poor balls, but they took just one wicket. Australia scored 12 runs off the first 12 overs, which included just seven off the bat. Half the overs bowled in the morning were maidens and Australia only reached 100 runs in 48th over, the slowest it has taken them to reach three figures in an Ashes Test since 1990.
Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja added 46 in 26 overs (they joined forces last night), and at times it was difficult to watch. The crowd were flat, and while England kept plugging away, they too were less animated than in previous Tests. There were no attempts to rev up the supporters.
The highlight was a stunning catch off Labuschagne, plucked by Joe Root diving to his right at slip. Jonny Bairstow did not move, raising questions again about his mobility or maybe he had just fallen asleep like everyone else, but Root dived and caught the ball slightly behind him, clinging on to the best slip catch of the series.
Labuschagne had scored nine off 82 balls, and departed as slowly as he batted, muttering to himself.
Steve Smith accelerated the rate with consecutive fours off Anderson, who looks down on morale and out of luck.