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1st Test day three - rolling blog

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Tom Fordyce | 11:41 UK time, Friday, 10 July 2009

The box that rocks

There are plenty of hospitality boxes at this redeveloped ground, all of them full with happy hordes of guzzlers, but one is proving significantly more popular with the snoopers and binocular-users than any of the others.

The match sponsor's one is passed over, the England team sponsor's likewise - for just beyond both lies the seat of the Australian Wags.

Michael Clarke's model girlfriend Lara Bingle has been in town to watch her man make afternoon Ashes hay, and so too has Mitchell Johnson's ladyfriend Jessica Bratich.

Australia seamer Mitchell Johnson and his girlfriend Jessica BratichNeither is short of glamour or long-lensed admirers.

There's been some stern criticism from some quarters about Cricket Australia's decision to allow players' partners to accompany them on parts of this Ashes tour - not least from Michael Slater, who separated from his wife Stephanie during the 2001 series.

Going by Clarke's innings on Friday afternoon, however, the company is certainly working for him.

Dressed for success

I can't offer Thursday's carnival queen again - although she is knocking about, should you be in the vicinity and mood - but there's been a decent display from her fellow fans today.

Batting banditos

These two claimed to be from Mexico, although one sounded very much like he was from Perth and the other seemed very keen on real ale for a central American.

The chaps down below? British through and through, and insistent that no leopards were hurt in the making of their shirts.

Stanley and Dr Livingstone

Back from the Boks

As you'd expect, the South Wales glitterati have been out in full for this Test. Katherine Jenkins, Max Boyce - and now a decent slice of the national rugby side, including a chirpy-looking Lions fly-half Stephen Jones.

"This is definitely the best way to recover from a Lions tour," said Jones, a middle-order batsman in his own cricketing days. "The sun's shining, I'm out with a few mates and we're enjoying ourselves with a few beers.

"I'm not thinking too much about rugby at the moment - it's nice to have some downtime and switch off - but the tour was a fantastic experience. It was a cracking group of guys.

"I enjoy cricket. I used to play a lot when I was younger, although never at Sophia Gardens - we played in the south Wales league.

Wales and Lions rugby stars Jonathan Thomas, Ian Evans, Stephen Jones, Mark Jones and Gareth Cooper at the first Test

"A few of the national team were in the Welsh Schools cricket team though. Jonathan Thomas is a pretty decent player."

On Saturday, Jones's fellow Lions Martyn Williams and Gethin Jenkins are also expected. Expect the principality paparazzi to be out in full.

The battle of the breakthrough

After that sobering afternoon and evening for England on Thursday, all the morning chat in Cardiff was about whether Andrew Strauss's men could haul themselves back into things in the first hour of the day.

The consensus was that three wickets were needed before lunch, with a minimum requirement that overnight centurions Ponting and Katich be sent on their way.

Strauss opted to start with Stuart Broad from the Cathedral Road end and Monty Panesar at the other, and the early signs were promising.

In Broad's first over he got one to jump and jag past Katich's prodding edge, something of a collector's item in the opener's innings so far, and the first run of the day didn't come until the third over.

From then on, however, the Aussie pair began to play how they'd left off the night before. The 200 partnership came up in the sixth over, and when Strauss turned to Graeme Swann, the leading Test wicket-taker in 2009 responded with two full tosses that Ponting put away for a four and three.

Nine overs in, it was time for the new ball. Ponting lined up James Anderson, pulled a short one away for four and then drilled a dreamy drive away for another.

When Andrew Flintoff's first ball turned out to be a replica of Steve Harmison's in Brisbane - starting wide, going wider, taken in front of second slip by a full-length Matt Prior - a groan of dismay rolled around the grandstands.

As omens go, it was a horrible one. Australia rattled up 602 in that Brisbane innings, Ponting contributing 196, which made Anderson's pearler to get rid of Katich three overs later even more important.

The same fans who'd been rooting around in their picnic boxes for something to take their minds off the cricket have now pushed the nachos away unwanted.

Breakthrough #1 in the bag. Now for the next two.

NB I'll have eyes on this blog all day, so pile in for a chin-wag whenever the mood takes. Twitter also in action - '', unsurprisingly, if you fancy following.


  • Comment number 1.

    Do you think Broad is up to the job of being England's opening bowler Tom?

  • Comment number 2.

    0-67 off 15 overs so far suggest he's finding it tough on this pitch, Gary. On what we've seen this morning, you'd have to start with Fred and Anderson. When their midday new-ball spell is over, Broad looks like being first change.

  • Comment number 3.

    well thats the three before lunch then, including Katich & Ponting - unbeleivable from Pannesar!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Punter the big one we need to get, not just the for match but for the entire series. My memory's shaky, but did any single bowler have the hold on him in 2005? I seem to remember - Old Trafford excepted - he didn't do that well, but he's scored runs against us for fun since.

  • Comment number 5.

    I worry about Broad. I have a horrible feeling that unless the ball swings or he gets something out of the pitches this summer the Aussies will treat him like an average medium quick and fill their boots.

  • Comment number 6.

    Session job done, Ceejay_F1. Best atmos for an age when Punter went. Gatz42 - each of England's five bowlers in 2005 got Ponting out at least once. As did non-bowler Gary Pratt.

  • Comment number 7.

    Things were looking different at lunch: 4 down and North looking like he's batting on a minefield with a stick of rhubarb for a bat. Critical first hour after lunch: England need another quick breakthrough; if they get it, Australia may not manage a first innings lead - if Australia dig in, they may still be looking at 500+.

  • Comment number 8.

    What's your best bet for a result then Tom? A draw, I guess, if the forecast is as bad as Dirsy says it is. Is there any chance of an England win here?

  • Comment number 9.

    So far, this Test seems to be an illustration of Broad's inexperience. When he's on fire he looks the genuine article. At Cardiff he has looked overwhelmed by the occasion and is a bit wayward.

    That said, it does seem that he's being targeted a bit by the Aussies.

  • Comment number 10.

    SewerSide - after that last hour, I'd say all results still possible, but with the draw a clear favourite if it whacks it down on Saturday as it's predicted to.

    Nice analysis again, cricketing_stargazer. Which scenario is your money on?

  • Comment number 11.

    If England get a couple early on this afternoon, we're definitely in the stronger position. As it stands it really could go either way. Shame it's probably going to chuck it down and most likely end up a draw.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm relying on the BBC for coverage as I'm sat in an office making somone else money when I could be at home putting the TV licence to good use.

    The Aussies appear to be putting up an excellent first batting session. There are a lot of new guys in their squad but good old sledger Ricky Ponting himself has done it again.

    Hopfully Freddie and the boys will put the Aussies batting influence to bed-rock soon!

  • Comment number 14.

    Good old pratty! How could I forget? Agree with those calling for Harmisons inclusion - he may be a liabilty but he's also our most threatening strike bowler so we should take a risk with him next Test. Faint heart never won fair urn. Know very little about Onions or Bresnan. You're the expert Tom so who'd you go for?

  • Comment number 15.

    england are missing two players so far, a captain and a fast bowler. Vaughie has gone but Strauss needs to wise up and fast- he's always reactive not proactive and so we are always behind the eight ball. We are letting our best fast bowler sit it out. Harmie showed at Worcester he can be lethal unlike Broad who is gentle at 80-90 mph and no threat at all. We need this change for 2nd test. If another seamer is needed for variety it must be sidebottom.

  • Comment number 16.

    Tom: Sorry, had an operational issue here, so I was not following the game. It looks like my question is answered> Marcus North is battling through and I'd bet on 500+ now. If he had gone quickly, Australia might not have got to 400. Another lost opportunity. My guess is that this will be a draw now, with neither side able to land a killer blow. Both sides look a strike bowler short.

  • Comment number 17.

    They're more likely to go Onions than Harmie or Bresnan, I reckon. They've brought him through against the Windies and kept him down at Cardiff even though he didn't make the match XI. He had a rather lonely bowl on the outfield at lunch, but his pressure from one end last week for the England Lions helped Harmie get his wickets at the other.

  • Comment number 18.

    Tom, I agree, but it worries me. Onions is just the right pace to be collared unless he is extremely accurate or gets movement. In general, it's not the best move to go for a fast medium "English conditions" swing and seam bowler if you have the chance to pick someone different. I know that Steve Harmison and Sajid Mahmood are in bad odour with the selectors (and for a good reason), but those extra few mph make a big difference at this level. And one thing that Freddy desperately needed yesterday was someone at the other end to fling it down at 90mph+ to support his bombardment.

  • Comment number 19.

    c'mon England & Wales

  • Comment number 20.

    The problem is we are simply not as good as we think we are. Just like the football team, we lack depth. Anyhow, Pieterson is overrated and Panesar needs to go. Broad is struggling and while we have some good players, we simply have too many foreigners in our national league.

  • Comment number 21.


    Much as I would love to see him take wickets for Notts, it is common knowledge that the Aussies HATE SWING!!! Therefore, bring in Mr Sidebottom! Albeit he's not as penetrating when there is no swing, bt I would still bring him in. Would you Tom?

    BTW - Love the way Graham Onion's is twelth man, he can't play for England or Durham!! The CC is returning to Trent Bridge

  • Comment number 22.

    pS - surely you could have got some more WAG pictures Tom? ;)

  • Comment number 23.

    I quite object to the focus on wags. Yes, we know cricketers have partners who watch them play, but do we need to have to have camera shots and photos of them? It makes cricket seem as superficial as football and hello magazine, neither of which I can bear! True fans just want to concentrate on the match.

  • Comment number 24.

    lighten up a bit mate


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