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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Stuart Clark celebrates a wicket at Headingley
Stuart Clark nagged away, showing all his experience and probed time and again the batsmen's judgement on their off stump

Can England ever have had such a dreadful day with both bat and ball as this before?

Each and every one of them contributed to a performance so ghastly that it might well have cost them the Ashes.

Perhaps the evacuation of the team hotel in the early hours had something to do with it - they were standing on the streets of Leeds in their pyjamas for about 45 minutes - or the build up so chaotic that the toss had to be delayed for 10 minutes to give England a chance of naming their team after Matt Prior ricked his back in the warm up.

Either way, they batted very poorly and bowled considerably worse than that, and need a miracle to save the Test.

The ball swung all day - more so in the morning after some overnight rain than in the afternoon - but while Australia bowled with discipline and control, England's direction was so erratic, it was embarrassing.

Australia's batsmen rattled along at nearly five runs per over as boundaries flowed at the rate of a game of Twenty20.

When the ball was put in the right place, the batsmen were troubled and no-one had a better and more frustrating view of this than England's captain, Andrew Strauss, who stood helpless and fuming at first slip.

His build up might very well have contributed to his early dismissal.

Distracted by the prospect of calling up a replacement wicketkeeper at short notice, Strauss would have been relieved to have the toss delayed by 10 minutes.

But this meant that his three post-toss interviews left him only 10 minutes at the most to get padded up and mentally tuned in to opening the batting.

Tom Fordyce blog

He should have been given out lbw to the first ball of the match and fell to a brilliant reflex catch by Marcus North at third slip five overs later.

Peter Siddle picked up the rewards with 5-21, including 4-3 from his last 14 balls but the pick of the Australian bowlers was Stuart Clark.

He nagged away, showing all his experience and probed time and again the batsmen's judgement on their off stump.

This was in stark contrast to James Anderson, who had a really rotten day and, after an early wicket, Steve Harmison who was pulled and cut to ribbons by Ricky Ponting.

Stuart Broad nipped in with the wickets of Ponting and Mike Hussey - both of whom would feel that they might have received the benefit of the doubt from Asad Rauf - but Australia enjoyed a day beyond their wildest dreams.

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see also
Australia on top as England slump
07 Aug 09 |  Australia
Prior calls for England recovery
07 Aug 09 |  Australia
England v Australia day one photos
07 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Jonathan Agnew column
06 Aug 09 |  England
Ponting plays down crowd antics
06 Aug 09 |  Australia
Flintoff ruled out of fourth Test
07 Aug 09 |  England
Form merited England call - Trott
05 Aug 09 |  England
Trott gets surprise England call
04 Aug 09 |  England
Aussies defy England to earn draw
03 Aug 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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