Ashes 2013: Talking points from day three as England edge towards safety

Ashes 2013: Guy Clarke takes a look at the talking points from the third day’s play of the fifth Test at the Oval as England end on 254-4

By Guy Clarke

Root hits a steady 68

Joe Root has not had the best of times during the series, only getting past 30 once so far, although that did result in an incredible 180 in the second Test at Lord’s. Apart from his 180 hit in the second innings at the Home of Cricket, the 22-year-old has struggled to deal with the Australian bowling attack, trying to play his way in before falling cheaply. However, with the hosts chasing a target of 493 after the Aussies’ got to 492-9 before declaring, Yorkshireman Root and captain Alistair Cook gave England a steady start getting their first fifty partnership before the captain fell for 25 edging a Ryan Harris delivery behind to Brad Haddin. Root kept his composure after the dismissal of his opening partner to hit a half century and continuing to reach 68 off 168, including 11 fours, before attempting to sweep a ball by Nathan Lyon only to top edge and the ball to Australia’s man of the moment Shane Watson. Even after the opener was gone, England continued in steady fashion, ending on 254-4, and playing safely – unlike the expansive game plan we saw from Australia yesterday before they declared.

Lehmann fined over cheat accusation

Following his labelling of Stuart Broad as a cheat on Australian radio station Triple M because the Nottinghamshire man decided not to walk after he edged Ashton Agar’s delivery into the hands of Michael Clarke in the first Test, the tourists’ coach Darren Lehmann has been fined 20 per cent of his match fee by the ICC. Lehmann’s comments created an atmosphere ahead of the fifth Test, and also before the return series in Australia at the end of the year. The 43-year-old called on the Australian public to get into Broad when England arrive in Australia and also mentioned how he wanted to send the 27-year-old bowler home “crying”. On the news of the fine, the radio station which held the interview with the Australian coach have offered to pay the fine on behalf of Lehmann for their part in the affair. The incident has caused a lot of debate on the intentions of the coach as to whether it was light-hearted banter or whether he went too far in accusing Broad of cheating with many former players having their say including former Australia captain Ian Chappell and also their former spin bowler Shane Warne.

Pietersen out on 50

After gambling and failing with their two reviews, Australia were fortunate to see the end of Kevin Pietersen’s time at the crease. KP, who was on 50, nicked a Mitchell Starc delivery into Watson in the slips but the Aussies had to rely on umpire Aleem Dar, as it appeared as though it could have been a bump ball. With Watson confident of the wicket, but with the Aussies without any reviews, the decision was down to Dar. The experienced official went to the third umpire, with the replays proving conclusive as Pietersen had hit the ball before the bounce. The 33-year-old, England’s leading run-scorer in all forms of the game, duly walked once seeing the replays, leading to the arrival of debutant Chris Woakes at the crease. Pietersen, who had got to his half century off 130 balls epitomised England’s innings so far. He took his time, with the hosts happy to frustrate their visitors and aiming to stop them recording a win in the series. By taking 130 deliveries to hit his 50, it became Pietersen’s slowest Ashes half-century and his third-slowest overall, demonstrating how Alastair Cook wanted to stop Australia from winning. With rain due to disrupt proceedings on Saturday, the Aussies may be unable to win the Test as they look powerless to induce an England follow-on.

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