Close of play – England 307/8 (Bell, 72)
Australia will feel the happier of the two teams at the end of day 1 of this deciding test match from The Oval. England won the toss and as expected opted to bat in a match they have to win to regain the Ashes. Just how good a score England have can again only be gauged after both sides have batted, it should be a fascinating contest between the England attack and the Aussie batsmen on day 2.
England didn’t get off to the greatest of starts with Alastair Cook hanging his bat out playing a what is becoming an all too familiar nothing shot to give away his wicket for just 10. After that Andrew Strauss and the much maligned Ian Bell set about the job in hand taking England to 108/1 at lunch with a good battling display against some hostile and well directed bowling – Bell in particular got through a good working over from the Aussie bowlers.
After lunch Strauss made his first error of the day and it was a costly one giving an easy catch to Haddin off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus. The Aussies then sensed blood with just Paul Collingwood and debutant Jonathan Trott to come as recognised batsmen, Collingwood though settled down and kept Bell company until he decided to chase a widish delivery from Peter Siddle giving Hussey a simple catch at gully – again it is not the first time Collingwood has got out in this fashion during this series. At tea England were 180/3 and still in a reasonable position.
Trott – who came out to bat to a very warm welcome from the Oval crowd – showed that he seems to have the temperament for test cricket with an assured performance making 41 before getting run out in style by a great piece of fielding from Simon Katich, before the wicket of Trott and at the start of the 3rd session Ian Bell was out for 72 playing on to a delivery from Siddle – one of Siddle’s four victims of the day.
After that the Aussie bowlers reaped the reward for all their hard work and endurance during the day with another three wickets in the final session. Prior and Flintoff both chucked their wickets away going after wide deliveries and Graeme Swann was out for 18, a victim of the new ball.
After losing the toss Ricky Ponting will be very happy with his teams performance, although England again threw away half of their 8 wickets to fall with bad lazy shots the Aussie bowlers stuck to their task all day with little reward during the 1st two sessions. After tea they picked up 5 wickets and they will feel they deserved that reward for the days work overall.
The test has moved on at real pace with England losing 8 wickets, although England would have liked more runs on the board – they have come up well short yet again – the pitch showed signs of misbehaving and Marcus North got some kick and turn out of it with his spin bowling.
England will feel they are still well in this game but know they will need to bowl well after the inadequate performance of the batsmen. With the pitch already showing signs of wear a result is looking a strong possibility, it could simply come down to who holds their nerve the best.
5th Test Betting
Australia are 10/11 favourites with William Hill and Ladbrokes
England are 9/4 with VC Bet
The Draw is 4/1 with Sportingbet