Australia trail by 16 runs with five wickets in hand.
Chris Rogers scores a really bad but also really great century to put Australia in a strong position.
It was a disappointing day for the English bowlers, after a promising start. On a pitch more conducive to movement off the seam rather than conventional swing through the air, it was only Stuart Broad who garnered enough assistance to really trouble the batsmen. As soon as he got his line and length correct, he was very dangerous and was rewarded with a four-wicket haul – and came within a Tony Hill brain cell’s width of dismissing Rogers as well. His partners were at best reasonable: Jimmy Anderson economical, Tim Bresnan probing, but neither particularly threatening. With Graeme Swann seemingly suffering with finger problems (he had strapping on two fingers on his right hand), England really couldn’t build on Broad’s initial success. We’re never slow to repeat ourselves and will therefore say that Graham Onions would have been bloody brilliant today.
Credit where it’s due to Rogers, a likeable and dedicated cricketer, who also fulfills the ginger and short-sighted categories that we’re so fond of. Given the match circumstance and the general playing conditions, this was a really rather fine maiden Test century, at an age where most players are beginning to think of the golf course, comfortable shoes for the gardening and all-you-can-eat buffets. However it was not a brilliant hundred by the dictionary definition – he survived umpteen chances early on (including when Umpire Hill gave him out caught behind, only for England’s referral to show he was actually out LBW – if of course that had been the umpire’s original call) and spent an age on 96* looking as nervous as a 1970s TV presenter when there’s an unexpected knock on the door. But in partnership with Australia’s latest No. 6, Shane Watson, he took his team first to safety and then to a position from which they could dominate the rest of the match.
Whatever lead Australia can secure will be crucial, the bigger the better (obviously). With Rogers and the dangerous Brad Haddin not out overnight, they ought to be thinking of a total of at least 300, probably more. England will firstly want weather conditions that make the ball swing and secondly must make good use of the new ball, which will be available in five and a bit overs’ time. The home team are perfectly capable of still winning this match, but many more sessions where they are second best will be incredibly damaging.