The Ashes 2013 - First Test, Trent Bridge: Five talking points for Day 3
The nervousness at Trent Bridge during the last session of play on Day 3 was a throwback to the high-intensity moments of the 2005 Ashes that reignited the rivalry for modern-day audiences in some sense. The visual of Darren Lehmann standing on the balcony shaking his head in ferocious disappointment when Stuart Broad decided not to walk inspite of almost middling the ball was a testament to the emotions that are involved in this keenly contested battle.
England finished the day in a strong position, leading by 261 runs and looking strong to go beyond that 300-run mark. The surface has now been punctuated by rough patches, which means that batting in the last innings will not be easy.
England started Day 3 at 80/2 with Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen at the crease. They played out the first hours of the play and Pietersen came out of his shell to hit some flowing cover drives. It looked as if England would pile on the runs at that stage given the fact that both the experienced campaigners tend to make it a big innings once they have gone past the half-century mark.
However, Australia gate-crashed the party as Pattinson removed Pietersen and Ashton Agar claimed his first dismissal in Test cricket as Cook edged one to Michael Clarke. Bairstow and Prior applied themselves to the task, but Australia kept coming back with wickets leaving England in a precarious position at 218/6 when Ian Bell and Stuart Broad got together. Their 108-run partnership has given the match definite shape as England look front-runners going into Day 4 of the match.
Here are five talking points from an enthralling day’s cricket at Trent Bridge:
5. Ashton Agar’s first scalp
Alastair Cook has always converted a half-century into a hundred ever since he was elevated to captaincy. He had been patient in his innings, playing out maiden after maiden in the last session of day 2. The Australians had a clear plan for him; do not allow easy runs of the pads and bowl outside the off-stump with a packed off side field. The plan was not enough to get an early dismissal, but patience on both sides meant that we were exposed to a long-drawn tactical battle.
Ashton Agar was selected for the first Test primarily as an off-spinner who would be able to trouble the right-handed batsmen in this English side. He was ineffective on Day 1, but stole the limelight with his resolve with the bat. Tipped to be the next Daniel Vettori, he had done no wrong with the ball in the second innings; but as the rough patches on the surface became more prominent, he began to look like a wicket-taking option.
He would proud of his first scalp as Alastair Cook’s dismissal was critical for Australia’s fortunes in the match at that stage. He continued to bowl outside the off-stump till one delivery stopped and bounced out of the rough taking the edge. Michael Clarke held on to the catch and Agar’s dream debut continued.