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Jonathan Agnew column

Graeme Swann
There was little encouragement for Swann on the final day

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

England's bowlers huffed and puffed, but Australia's batsmen showed tremendous determination to save the third Test and deny England a potentially series-winning 2-0 lead.

The pitch was flat and slow, and for England to force a victory, they really needed to take early wickets.

Four before lunch would have created the necessary pressure on Australia's lower order, but they managed only two and, crucially, none between lunch and tea.

That session was dominated by the stand that saved the game - a partnership eventually worth 185 between Michael Clarke and Marcus North which was finally broken by a brilliant catch by James Anderson when England knew the game was up.

OLIVER BRETT'S BLOG
Oliver Brett

It was surprising that England waited so long before giving Anderson his first bowl of the day.

Andrew Flintoff and Graham Onions were given first crack, and then even Graeme Swann was called up before the man who took five wickets in the first innings - and the bowler most likely to swing the ball - was given a chance.

Anderson struck quickly, too, when Shane Watson's excellent innings ended as he aimed a drive at an inswinger and was caught behind for 53.

Michael Hussey looked nervous but apart from an occasionally wild pull shot, he resisted gamely until he was caught behind off Stuart Broad from round the wicket for 64.

There will be a great debate about whether or not Flintoff will play at Headingley, and I do not suppose we will know until the last moment

That was shortly before lunch, and although both batsmen had taken some prising out, England still had a chance.

The disappointment after the break was that Swann could not generate enough pressure to follow his spectacular wicket the previous evening of Ricky Ponting.

There were simply too many full tosses and loose deliveries, and he failed to take a wicket throughout the day.

Flintoff, meanwhile, did not take a wicket in the entire game.

He bowled with plenty of pace and fire and, from the boundary edge, appeared to be fit to play.

The problem is that the rest between the last two games meant that he went into this Test match with no bowling behind him and, consequently, was rusty.

There will be a great debate about whether or not he should play at Headingley, and I do not suppose we will know until the last moment.

Broad will have an anxious wait to see how Flintoff gets through the week because there must be a chance that if Flintoff is fit, Broad might be replaced by Steve Harmison.

Broad gave a reminder of how valuable his batting is in the first innings, which England would not want to be without should Flintoff drop out.



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see also
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Australia in England 2009
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