Ashes 2013-14: Five talking points as Australia dominate day two

Ashes 2013-14: Jonny Green takes a look at five talking points as Australia take a 535-run lead over England in second Test

By Jonny Green

Catches win matches

At the end of day one, Graeme Swann admitted England may come to rue the three chances they had put down in the evening session. Unfortunately for England he proved to be correct. George Bailey, dropped on ten, scored 53 on the first day, while Michael Clarke, dropped on 18, and Brad Haddin, dropped on five, completed their centuries on day two, scoring 148 and 118 respectively. The three drops cost England a combined 286 runs and batted them out of the game. Had these chances gone to hand, Australia would probably have been dismissed for less than 300 and the tourists would be in a strong position to level the series. As it is, they will probably need to bat well into Sunday if they are to escape with a draw.

Clarke delivers batting master-class

Michael Clarke, the Australian captain, offered up a batting master-class on his way to his 148. After a nervy start, whereby he came down the wicket and miscued his first ball of the day from Monty Panesar just over two fielders on the off-side, he dispatched England’s bowlers to all parts of the ground. He was quick on his feet against the spin of Panesar and Graeme Swann and did not allow them to settle. He also appears to have overcome the problems he was suffering against Stuart Broad’s short ball which has left England seeking a Plan B in order to get him out. Clarke has now scored more runs in Australia (4,418) than Don Bradman did (4,322) and his innings today was his sixth century in nine Tests at Adelaide where he averages 104.75.

Ben Stokes impresses on debut

For all of England’s troubles on day two, Ben Stokes did well on debut. Given his chance after England chose to play two spinners, he was aggressive and did enough to suggest he has a bright Test future ahead of him. He bowled the fastest ball of the Australian innings and looked the most threatening of England’s bowlers. He thought he had his first Test wicket when Brad Haddin was caught behind but the Australian was reprieved by a no-ball. However he responded well, getting Michael Clarke caught at mid-wicket before bowling a beauty to have Peter Siddle caught behind by Matt Prior.

Worries over Swann

Much of England’s success in the last few years has been based around their bowling unit. This often saw Graeme Swann holding up one end, building pressure whilst also taking wickets, while the fast bowlers rotated at the other. In the 2009 Ashes series, Swann was England’s second-highest wicket taker with 14 at an average of 40.5 and economy rate of 3.32. In the 2010-11 series, he took 15 wickets at 39.80 and an economy rate of 2.72. He was top wicket taker in this summer’s series taking 26 at 29.03 and an economy rate of 3.03. However, Australia coach Darren Lehman has urged his players to target Swann and Friday was no different. His figures of two for 152 meant it was the second innings in a row he has conceded over 100 runs and his economy rate in this series is 4.11. Swann has had much success against left-handed batsmen and Australia appear to have taken this into account, with openers Chris Rodgers and David Warner the only left-handers in their top seven. Unless Swann can get back on top of the Australian batsmen, England will struggle to retain the urn.

Glimmer of hope for England

Despite a demoralising day in the field, England should take heart from the fact that first-innings scores over 550 at Adelaide have not always been safe. In 2003, Australia scored 556 against India but lost by four wickets after they were dismissed for 196 in their second innings. And in the ill-fated Ashes tour of 2006-07, England scored 551/6 declared, only to lose by six wickets after being bowled out for just 129 in their second innings.
For England to stand any chance, they must score over 400 for the first time in 18 innings, stretching back to the second Test in New Zealand in March. With captain Alastair Cook already back in the pavilion, the tourists will be hoping their senior batsmen can regain their form. Michael Carberry and Joe Root, the two batsmen at the crease, will also want to make up for their costly drops of Haddin and Clarke.

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