• England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, 2nd day

Haddin, Starc swell lead after Clarke 187

The Report by Daniel Brettig
August 2, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Tea
Australia 507 for 7 (Haddin 57*, Starc 54*) v England (Swann, 5-149)
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Michael Clarke finally fell for 187 © PA Photos
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Australia's captain Michael Clarke soared to 187 before Brad Haddin and Mitchell Starc stretched England's resources with an impudent stand. Though their earlier progress had been pockmarked by wasteful moments from Steve Smith and David Warner in the morning, Clarke, Haddin and a free-striking Starc made Alastair Cook's men sweat while an increasingly frequent caravan of sub-fielders emerged from the England dressing room.

The stretching of the game's laws was essentially a backhanded compliment to Clarke, who compiled both his most substantial innings against England and his highest Test tally overseas. His exit granted Stuart Broad a long-delayed 200th wicket in Tests and Peter Siddle soon followed, but Haddin and Starc followed up with near impunity on another sun-drenched afternoon to push Australia towards a total that should at very least ensure thy cannot lose this match.

Starc's innings was a particular delight for spectators, reminding them of his power and range of shots provided he can get past an invariably nervy first few balls. While England will take succour from the fact that the pitch is extremely amiable, it will be with heavy legs and a wide deficit that they take to the batting crease sometime in the evening session. Clarke, as yet, has not shown too much inclination to declare the innings, and another 38 overs remain in the day.

Early morning showers had given way to blue skies by the time the teams walked to the middle in Manchester; Clarke and Smith seeming to set themselves for a long stay as they negotiated the second new ball. Milestones came and went, the highest fourth wicket stand in an Old Trafford Test then the 200 partnership, leaving Alastair Cook looking somewhat bereft of ideas.

He resorted to Swann's offspin soon after mid-morning drinks, and the temptation of the slower, spinning ball proved too much for Smith, who aimed a heave towards midwicket but managed only to send a skier into the hands of Jonny Bairstow. This was profligate by Smith, who had shown so much patience to this point, but England will argue that it was in fact the fourth time in the innings they had dismissed him.

Warner thus walked to the wicket with Australia in decent fettle, accompanied by the inevitable boos following his attack on Joe Root in Birmingham during the Champions Trophy. Clarke was by this time in flowing form, treating Tim Bresnan in particular with disdain as he raised 150. But Warner's was a brief and skittish stay, one firm push to the cover boundary undone when he snicked Swann's offbreak to slip via Matt Prior's pad.

Unable to tell he had hit the ball having simultaneously thudded bat against pad, Warner sought advice from Clarke, who surprisingly assented to the review. Replays revealed the thickness of the edge, sending Warner off to even louder departing boos than those to have greeted him. On the Old Trafford balcony, the rest of Australia's players and coaches were less than enchanted with events.

Haddin watched all this then marched to the middle, quickly reasserting his side's strong position with a trio of lofted boundaries that conveyed both the true nature of the pitch and Australian desire to mount their tally in a timely fashion. Like Clarke to Swann at short cover earlier in the session, Haddin did offer one exceptionally difficult chance with an inside edge through to Prior, but the catch went down as England pondered what deficit they might be facing.

The early passages of the afternoon were relatively uneventful, as Clarke and Haddin batted time without undue haste. Ultimately Clarke fell into a pattern of running singles down to third man, and in attempting to do this to a Broad delivery that cut back he succeeded only in nudging the ball onto the stumps. Siddle had a lusty swing at Swann and missed, but Starc had rather more success as Haddin accumulated ably.

Nine boundaries were coshed from the bat of Starc, and his stand with Haddin was worth a rapid-fire 77 by the time the bails were tipped off for tea. England looked weary, but may yet have more fielding to do.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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