There have been few days of cricket as one sided as day 1 of the fourth Ashes test at Trent Bridge. Going into day 2, the questions were all about how many runs would England score? What would represent saving a little pride for Australia? Forcing England to bat again? Dragging the game out to a fourth day?
At the start of the second day, there seemed to be a complete role reversal – Australia were bowling well and England were struggling to play the moving ball. Starc took the wickets of Root, who added just 6 to his overnight total, Wood, who had a bit of nightwatchman-esque fun scoring 28 and Buttler (12). Then Hazlewood had Stokes caught behind for just 5.
At this point “the fear” raises its ugly head. England fans, reared on a diet of batting collapses start imagining scenarios in our heads where rather than being 500 runs ahead and not having to bat again, we lose all of our wickets and have less than a 300 run lead. Then Australia bat for two solid days leaving England needing 250 runs to win the game which they fail to get.
Fortunately, Broad, still enjoying the match of his life, and Ali put on a quick-fire 50-partnership to calm things down. Even when Johnson took Ali’s wicket for 38, England were comfortably enough ahead to even have the luxury of declaring before lunch, with a lead of 331.
The Australian openers then showed the application sadly lacking from their batters in the first innings by putting on 100 for the first wicket. Again, “The Fear” was slowly creeping up. England thought they had a breakthrough but Rogers was caught off a no-ball. However, they didn’t have to wait much longer as Stokes got him in the very next over for 52.
His opening partner Warner also scored a 50 but Stokes also snared him as he was caught by Broad. At this point Stokes clearly had his tail up as he claimed his third wicket in three overs as Marsh was caught by Root.
Broad, the hero of the first day was looking a little left out. He joined the party by getting Smith out. Smith has entered the series as the number one ranked batsman in the world. Apart from a mammoth score at Lords in the second test he hasn’t really lived up to that billing.
That left Australia 193 runs behind and four wickets down at tea. At this point there must have been some consternation among the Nottinghamshire committee members that the game could finish on day 2 and they would have to refund all of the weekend tickets.
Australian captain Clarke has been in a woeful run of form this series and after a scratchy 13, he edged Wood to Cook in the slips. After a bit of a juggle, the ball was finally caught by Bell. That brought wicketkeeper Nevill to the crease and he was on just 2 when we edged a Finn delivery to Cook. Fortunately for Australia and the Trent Bridge coffers it was a no-ball and he was reprieved.
Voges and Nevill managed to bat together for an hour which featured some poor, pressure-releasing bowling from Ali. That meant that it was time to send for the man of the moment Stokes, who had been bowling beautifully for the entire second innings. He trapped Nevill LBW before an excellent ball saw Johnson caught in the slips by Cook.
Yet again it looked like the game would be finished inside two days but bad light came to the rescue. Still trailing by 90 runs and with only 3 wickets left, it would take a minor miracle just to see England bat again. Where Broad and Root were the English heroes of the first day, Stokes really stepped up on day 2, taking 5 wickets for 3 runs. Taking the wickets of Rogers and Warner just as they were both beginning to look set really shut the door on any hopes Australia had of making any sort of come-back. While Voges finally showed a little bit of form that may be enough to save his test career, it won’t be enough to save this match or the Ashes, which could well be back in England’s hands before lunch on day 3.
Originally published on the On Nottingham website