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Jonathan Agnew column

Matt Prior hits out watched by Australia's Brad Haddin
Matt Prior hits out watched by Brad Haddin of Australia

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

For what it is worth, I thought England should have enforced the follow-on when they dismissed Australia for only 215.

It is true that the ball did not seem to be swinging quite as much as it had on the second day, but it was also difficult to tell because the instructions given to Stuart Broad appeared to be to bowl every ball in his half of the pitch.

That was an extraordinary tactic, particularly as England set a mid off rather than a third man for him, and Australia's tailenders scored runs quickly.

It was probably that - and the apparent lack of swing - that persuaded Andrew Strauss to bat again.

England should still win the game, but they fell into the classic trap of losing their way as they tried to balance the need to consolidate their position with having to press on to leave enough time to bowl Australia out on the final day.

This is always complicated if a couple of wickets go down, and when Strauss and Alastair Cook were both dismissed for 32, Ravi Bopara and Kevin Pietersen suddenly found batting very difficult.


Bopara's innings will produce further debate about his batting at number 3. I have always felt that he appears too casual, and he was incredibly fortunate on nine to survive a straightforward chance to second slip where Ricky Pointing, of all people, dropped it.

An attempt at a catch at mid on, from a dreadful pull shot, was overruled by the third umpire, and he then gave a soft catch via bat and thigh pad to short leg off Nathan Hauritz for 27.

Although the lead was building, Australia appeared to have the initiative.

Pietersen's injury appears to be making batting difficult for him, and at least he can now have almost a fortnight off.

If necessary, he should not field in Australia's second innings and prepare himself for the third Test at Edgbaston.

It was a fidgety innings which contained a memorable, rasping cover drive but ended on 44 by a catch to Brad Haddin off the inside edge.

It was only when Matt Prior joined Paul Collingwood that England batted with purpose and started to look like a team that was dictating terms.

Prior led the way, taking the Australian bowling by the scruff of the neck for his 61 from only 42 balls leaving us to wonder how adventurous Strauss will be with his declaration on the fourth day.

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see also
England open up huge Lord's lead
18 Jul 09 |  England
Bopara in need of Ashes impact
18 Jul 09 |  England
England v Australia day three photos
18 Jul 09 |  Cricket
The Ashes: head-to-head
04 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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