Saturday, 22 January 2011

Liverpool get sweet revenge over Wolves

Sports - Football - Premier League - Wolves 0-3 Liverpool

Raul Meireles' breathtaking strike and Fernando Torres' double earned King Kenny his first win since taking over from Roy Hodgson and returning to his managerial throne at Liverpool as his Reds beat Wolves in an intense encounter at Molineux.

It was sweet revenge over Mick McCarthy's men, after they had beaten a sorry Liverpool side 1-0 at Anfield and ultimately cost Hodgson his job end of December.

Portuguese midfielder Meireles set the tone and mood for the Reds, making run after run, putting Wolves under pressure and turned from provider after 36 minutes with Torres tapping in his pass, to scorer with an impressive stunner, dipping 25-yard volley into the top corner of the net in the 50th minute, leaving Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey help- and hopelessly stranded.

Torres completed the trio of goals and points, smashing the ball into an empty Wolves net after a fine run and cross by Dirk Kuyt.

It was a hard-fought, well-deserved and overdue win for Liverpool which takes them to the top half of the table - at least for the night.

Wolves didn't go down easy. they tried to adopt the same positive anddedicated work and play from their Anfield win, to keep as much of and Liverpool off the ball.

But it didn't work this time round as the Reds seemed to have a different jump or flare about them, hopefully an indication of better mind, form and times ahead!

Wolves: Hennessey; Stearman, Ward, Berra, Zubar; Henry, Hunt (Hammill 72), Jarvis, Milijas; Fletcher, Doyle.
Subs not used: Hahnemann, Craddock, Mouyokolo, Jones, Davis, Vokes.

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Agger, Kelly, Skrtel; Meireles (booked 85), Maxi (Aurelio 81), Lucas, Poulsen (booked 4, Shelvey 73); Torres (booked 47), Kuyt.
Subs not used: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Cole, Spearing, Pacheco.

BBC stats:
Attempts: 12-15
On target: 5-10
Corners: 5-4
Free kicks: 17-6
Possession: 49%-51%

Sky Sports stats:
Attempts: 11-14
On target: 3-9
Offsides: 3-2
Corners: 5-4
Free kicks: 18-6
Possession: 59.2%-40.8%
Passing Success: 70.1%-67.7%
Tackles/Success: 19/63.2%-21/76.2%
Territorial Advantage: 66%-34%

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Raul Meireles

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Merseyside derby ends all evens at Anfield

Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 2:2 Everton

Honours ended up all even at Merseyside after Dirk Kuyt's penalty earned King Kenny's men a draw in the derby with Everton, leaving both sides on 26 points, only four points clear of the relegation zone in 13th and 12th place respectively.

Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles took the lead for Liverpool on 29, driving the ball from 18 yards after Kuyt pulled a double save out of Tim Howard.

It was a deserved lead as Liverpool enjoyed most possession and chances, Dalglish coule be a happy man at half time onhis return to Anfield for the 215th Merseyside derby.

All the optimism changed for the Reds with the kick-off of the second half: Within 43 seconds Sylvain Distin headed in Mikel Arteta's corner at the back post, over Martin Skrtel and past Pepe Reina to make it 1-1.

Just over five minutes later, Jermaine Bedford completed the turnaround, smashing in Leon Osman's pass from close range and making Kuyt's and Fernando Torres' earlier close chances, including a crash against the post, count for nothing and seem meeningless as they weree to the scoreboard.

The guests looked well on top after that, Liverpool's play looking less organised and confident, more disrupted, making David Moyes the much happier since half time.

However, there was another twist in the tale: After all his saves, Howard turned from hero to villain when he clipped the legs of Maxi Rodriguez to bring the Argentine down and concede the penalty which Kuyt converted with cool composure to make the last 20-ish minutes the more interesting, tense and gripping.

Both sides pushed on, sharing chances, shouts and pressure, the result reföecting this fair and square.

Liverpool: Reina (booked 53); Kelly, Skrtel, Agger (Kyrgiakos 46), Johnson; Meireles (scored 28:24, Shelvey 81), Spearing, Lucas, Kuyt (booked 89) (scored penalty 67:21); Torres (booked 63), Maxi.
Subs not used: Gulacsi, Aurelio, Cole, Pacheco, Babel.

Everton: Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin (scored 45:38), Baines; Coleman, Fellaini, Arteta, Osman (Rodwell 78); Beckford (scored 51:34, Vaughan 74), Anichebe (Bilyaletdinov 82).
Subs not used: Mucha, Hibbert, Gueye, Baxter.

1st half stats:
Attempts: 10-4
On target: 6-1
Offsides: 1-0
Corners: 6-4
Free kicks: 7-9
65%-35% (20-30 min)
53%-47% (HT)

2nd half stats:
Attempts: 3-2
On target: 2-2
Offsides: 3-0
Corners: 4-2
Free kicks: 9-9
51%-49% (FT)

Sky Sports Stats:
Passing Success: 77.5%-73.4%
Tackles/Success: 20/90%-25/72%
Territorial Advantage: 48%-52%

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
Man of the match: Fernando Torres

Watson century beats England at the MCG‏

Sports - Cricket - 1st ODI - Australia v England - Melbourne

Shane Watson's record score of 161 not out from 150 balls lead Australia to a memorable win completing the highest successful run chase at the MCG and beating England's record total against the hosts Down Under.

England won the toss and chose to bat, skipper Andrew Strauss (63) not making a bad start with a 90 partnership from 12 overs together with Steven Davies (42).

David Hussey then got the breakthrough bowling Davies and seeing Jonathan Trott (6) caught behind by Brad Haddin soon after.

Kevin Pietersen then came to the crease seemingly back to his best scoring 78 from 75 deliveries whilst seeing Strauss, Ian Bell (23), Eoin Morgan (8) and Michael Yardy (9) all falling relatively cheeply, before he himself was run out by Mitchell Johnson, unlucky.

The collapse was completed with the last three wickets falling for only 23 runs with two deliveries remaining of the 50 overs.

Australia responded strong but patient. It was not a bang-boom-bang display, well under England's run rate at times, but disciplined and perfectly timed.

England meanwhile, looked more clumsy and chaotic in the field than usual, missing catches, stumpings, catches and fielding in general.

But no discredit to Watson's display and his superb partnerships of 110 with Brad Haddin (39) and 103 Michael Clarke (36).

Their contributions were just as crucial to Australia's win but Watson was the star of the day, finally getting a century after all his half-century-bit-starts.

England got three wickets during the batting powerplay and their hopes up late on in the match, Clarke and Steven Smith (5) caught on the off-side off Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad respectively before Mike Hussey was caught for 21 by Chris Tremlett off Bresnan.

But the man of the match Watson saw his side through with five balls and six wickets to spare, setting up the series with a win and on a good, competitive, juicy note for the ICC ODI world number one Australia against main rivals (number five) England.

For full summary of the day's action, check out the BBC website.

Monday, 10 January 2011

King Kenny's big return = defeat against Fergie

Sports - Football - FA Cup 3rd round - Man Utd 1:0 Liverpool

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish had no happy return after seeing his side concede a penalty within half a minute, fall behind within two minutes and then go down to ten men with skipper Steven Gerrard seeing red just past the half-hour mark, all adding up and leading to a 1-0 defeat against their bitter rivals and league leaders Manchester United to kick them out of the FA Cup in the third round leaving the Europa League as the only possibility for silverware this season.

It was King Kenny's first game as caretaker manager, replacing booman Roy Hodgson just a couple of days ago after his 6-month short stint, just over 20 years after his successful reign as Reds manager which included three league titles, two FA Cups and a 4-0 demolition of United which nearly cost Sir Alex Ferguson his job.

So, hopes were not high but better. But a couple of decades on, the men, the teams and the match drew a very different picture.

Dimitar Berbatov went down in the box late after the slightest of semi-tackle-touches by Daniel Agger with hardly half a minute on the clock. Ryan Giggs took the spot kick nice, strong and confident, into the right corner, shaving past a diving Pepe Reina, United could not have wished for a better start.

Liverpool took a bit to come to terms with the early setback but made some fine one-twos, creating some good interplay, Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez and Gerrard coming close whilst United hardly showed up at the other end.

But then it all went from bad to worse for Liverpool: Stevie G. slid in with both feet on Michael Carrick and was given a straight red by World Cup final referee Howard Webb, after a little delay with all the players surrounding him in protest.

In contrast to the penalty, the replays confirmed and made this decision much more clear cut, the skipper had to go.

Down by a goal and a man, Liverpool seemed to get a grip whilst United took more of a step back or the foot off the gas rather than going forward and putting pressure on and taking advantage of the extra man, although they nearly doubled the advantage just before the break when Jonny Evans headed Giggs' corner off the post.

Liverpool showed some fine team work in the second half, Fabio Aurelio pulling a great save out of Tomasz Kuszczak diving and keeping out the strong free kick shot from the top right corner.

Reina didn't have much to do after the penalty, apart from a couple of crazy minutes in the second half when he brilliantly kept out shots by Rafael, Berbatov and Patrice Evra in quick succession.

Liverpool fought on well after that but never got close enough, not quite there. But they can take some encouragement from the second half performance, as at half time many would have predicted a reverse of the last time Dalglish faced and nearly smashed and crashed Ferguson 4-0.

It didn't come to that and now the Reds have to be strong as ever, with their skipper suspended for the next three games including none other than the Merseyside derby - see what Kenny boy can do... Come back from retirement and make a return on the pitch just as he has off it???

Man Utd: Kuszczak; Evra, Ferdinand, Rafael Da Silva, Evans (Smalling 84); Giggs, Carrick, Nani, Fletcher (booked 9, Anderson 62, booked 64); Berbatov, Hernandez (Owen 75).
Subs not used: Lindegaard, Fabio Da Silva, Gibson, Obertan.

Liverpool: Reina; Agger, Aurelio, Kelly, Skrtel; Raul Meireles (Shelvey 60), Gerrard (sent off 32), Maxi (Babel 60), Lucas; Torres (Ngog 77), Kuyt.
Subs not used: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Poulsen.

BBC stats:
Man Utd-Liverpool
Attempts: 16-13
On target: 10-5
Corners: 11-3
Free kicks: 7-11
Possession: 42%-58%

Sky Sports stats:
Man Utd-Liverpool
Attempts: 17-12
On target: 9-4
Offsides: 4-2
Corners: 11-3
Free kicks: 7-10
Possession: 62%-38%
Passing Success: 84.1%-72.5%
Tackles/Success: 21/76.2%-32/71.9%
Territorial Advantage: 39.9%-60.1

Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Dimitar Berbatov

Friday, 7 January 2011

England complete record 3-1 Ashes thrash

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 5th Test- Sydney - Day 5

Chris Tremlett got the last winning wicket for England, a memorable moment for the bowler, tailender Michael Beer (2) edging the ball onto his stumps and thereby completing England's third win by an innings and 83 runs and 3-1 Ashes thrashing against Australia.

England needed three wickets on the day but had to be patient as the Aussies never give up easy, Steven Smith (54*) with his second Test half century and Peter Siddle (46) with his highest Test score holding out a stubborn partnership of 86 with him and rain interrupting the game on the way.

But England got it all wrapped up before lunch thanks to James Anderson's catch at deep mid-wicket off Graeme Swann to take out Siddle (257-8), followed by the fast bowler's own wicket of Ben Hilfenhaus (7) caught behind (267-9), wicketkeeper Matt Prior's seventh catch of the match and 23rd of the series, and last but not least Tremlett to take the glory of the last wicket and Australia all out for 281, only one run more than in their first innings and still 83 runs behind England's big record bash of 644 the guests completed the previous day.

Alastair Cook got the Man of the Match and Series awards for his record of 766 runs and a massive average of 127.66 this series, which include 82 boundaries (81x4s + 1x6), three centuries including his hit of 189 in Sydney and unbeaten 235 in the opening match draw in Brisbane and two half centuries, which puts him a staggering 196 runs ahead of Mike Hussey in second place on the batting chart.

James Anderson was the bowler of the series with 24 wickets and 50 maidens, seven more wickets than his companion Tremlett, Mitchell Johnson being the top Australian bowler with 15 wickets followed by Siddle with 14 wickets, same as Swann and Steven Finn respectively.

Skipper Andrew Strauss has joined the exclusive list of Sir Leonard Hutton and Mike Brearley to become only the third England captain to win Ashes series at home and away.

Apart from the Waca episode, this series has shown how much work and improvement has gone into the England side and how much has changed since the 5-0 drubbing Down Under 4 years ago. Similar to 24 years ago, their last beating at home, the Aussies will have to rethink and make some major changes to their side if they want to change the downhill trend they have been on over the last couple of years.

Australia v England fifth Test fourth day as it happened:

Highlights taken from the BBC website:

- Australia 213-7: To the strains of "Jerusalem", it's James Anderson to open up, he has two slips and a gully for Steve Smith, who's batting in a sleeveless sweater. Free entry to the SCG today has meant that probably every Brit in New South Wales is there. Anderson is right on the money, Smith blocks out a maiden over.

- Australia 216-7: Chris Tremlett, who bowled quite beautifully yesteday, pings down a bouncer at Peter Siddle, and then has the toothy tail-ender groping outside off stump. Siddle scores the first run of the day when he jams his bat down and the ball squirms away from gully. Smith works a two off his legs, while the National Anthem is sung lustily, conducted by someone in a dress and an Elizabeth II mask.

- Australia 223-7: Cap'n Strauss is chewing gum at first slip, with the look of a hard-bitten Wild West gunslinger waiting to see off some outlaws at High Noon before riding off into the sunset. Tremlett bowls, Siddle gets an edge... but it squirms between third slip and gully, and it was a no-ball anyway. They run two. Ali Cook dons a helmet at short leg, I hope he's cleared space on his mantelpiece for the man of the series award. Siddle pushes a three, he has 24 and that's the fifty stand.

- RAIN STOPS PLAY - Australia 227-7: Siddle is still playing positively, hoicking Tremlett for three with an unorthodox cross-batted heave over the bowler's head. Simon Mann on TMS has noticed some rain... and they're going off! Nooooo.....

- Australia 230-7: Tremlett has to complete his over - two deliveries left. The first is down the leg side, the second is turned off his legs by Siddle... just wide of the man at square leg, and they run a double.

- Australia 252-7: Siddle pushes Swann for a couple of twos, he's on 42 and that's his highest Test score - beating the 40 he scored at Melbourne. "He's definitely got all-rounder potential," notes Vic Marks on TMS.

- WICKET, Siddle c Anderson b Swann 43 (Australia 257-8): Siddle swats Swann to leg, and it's straight down Anderson's throat in front of the Barmy Army at deep mid-wicket! One down, two to go...

- Australia 257-8: Ben Hilfenhaus is the new batsman, but he's not on strike as they crossed on the catch. Andrew the scorer reveals that Ponting and Clarke (combined) average 19.18 for the series, while Siddle averages 19.25.

- Australia 261-8 - NEW BALL AVAILABLE: Hilfenhaus is stout in defence against Bresnan, with three slips and a gully waiting for that edge. Gentle Ben is off the mark with a fluent cover drive for three, Smith moves on to 41 with a single (his highest Test score is 77 against Pakistan at Headingley last year). And the second new ball is available.

- APPEAL - NOT OUT - Australia 266-8 - NEW BALL TAKEN: Interesting move - the new ball is taken, but it's Chris Tremlett rather than James Anderson brandishing the new cherry. Smith heaves towards deep backward square leg, but safely, and they run a single. "I think Hilfenhaus may have a bit of a swish", says Vic Marks on TMS. The big seamer leg-glances a loose delivery from Tremlett for four, and England's lead is now under 100. Hilfenhaus is hit on the pad, there's an appeal... but it looked high. No review (we've not had many in this Test, to be honest).

- WICKET, Hilfenhaus c Prior b Anderson 7 (Australia 267-9): Single from Smith, Hilfenhaus nicks one and Anderson collects his 24th wicket of the series! Start the car - England are one wicket from winning the series!

- SMITH FIFTY - Australia 280-9: Smith rocks back and cuts Anderson for four, that's his second Test fifty from 85 balls. Smith's batting is more artisan than artist, an ugly shot brings him a single, and Beer survives once more.

- WICKET, Beer b Tremlett 2 (Australia 281 all out): The Barmies are still on their feet, Smith smears Tremlett to deep square leg but then refuses to take the single. The youngster is all ugly cross-batted strokes, one of which brings him a single, then Beer is bowled by Tremlett - edging onto his stumps - and it's all over!


Thursday, 6 January 2011

Australia staring at third defeat by an innings

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 5th Test - Sydney - Day 4

My picks of the fourth day:

England are on the verge of crushing Australia by an innings for the third time and taking Ashes home for the first time in 24 years with an emphatic 3-1 series win. Australia finished the fourth day on the brink, 213-7, 151 runs behind. Earlier in the day, Matt Prior smashed in 118 off 130 deliveries helping on England to reach 644, their highest Test total Down Under. After slumping from 161-4 to 171-7, Australia had to bat out and hold through an extra half an hour as England pressed for the win on the day. But Steven Smith (24*) and Peter Siddle (17*) held through and are still standing on a 42 partnership and taking the match and series to the fifth and final day.

Run of Play: Advantage to...

1st session, England 636-9, 356 ahead at lunch: Prior is the star man of the session with his fourth test century, the fastest and record-ninth Ashes century for England, unbelievable stuff! Australia did get some wickets but have still not woken up out of this long nightmare by far!

2nd session, England 644 all out, 364 ahead, Australia 77-2, 287 behind at tea: After reaching their highest Test total ever in Australia, England got cracking with the ball too, taking out the Aussie openers before the second break of the day.

3rd session, Australia 213-7, 151 behind at the end of day four: Australia are bleeding, bleeding badly, and although they survived and take England to the last day, these wickets and wounds will prove fatal on the last day, it is just a question of time.

Partnerships: England smashed and bashed in plenty of records during the series and this match alone. On this day, they continued that trend with the help of record-centurion Prior and Tim Bresnan (35) whose partnership of 102 runs is England's highest eighth-wicket stand at the SCG, after beating the 86 by Jack Hearne and Johnny Douglas in 1911. After both record-men fell, Graeme Swann put in a fine bash too, unbeaten on 36 off 26, and last-wicket partnership of 35 runs with Chris Tremlett (12) to take England to their record total of 644. Opener Shane Watson (38) once again muddled things up for Australia, with an unnecessary, clumsy and irresponsible run out after a breakdown of communication and ending up at the same end as his partner Phillip Hughes. England's bowlers took control from there, the only partnerships of note being 65 between Usman Khawaja (21) and skipper Michael Clarke (41), who were both caught behind off James Anderson, and the 42-and-still-standing between Smith (24*) and Siddle (17*).

Bowlers: Not only did Prior star with the bat, but also with the gloves, taking four catches on the day. Anderson, Tremlett and Bresnan did a brilliant job with the ball sharing a couple of wickets each, with Swann also contributing to the Aussies' frustration and pain with some fine bowling. The swings, the bounces and the speed made the Aussies sweat. Mitchell Johnson's golden duck - bowled by Tremlett, who was on a hat-trick after seeing out Brad Haddin (30) caught behind in the previous delivery - exemplified England's brilliance and dominance and how quickly they had learnt from previous mistakes. Australia are the shadow of the side they used to be, but that cannot and shall not discredit England's quality and improvement.

Ups: England are three wickets away from thrashing Australia by an innings for the third time and taking the Ashes series by storm. It can hardly get better than that - only South Africa (2009-10 Castle Test Series drawn 1-1) and India (facing them in a four-match Test series from 21 July 2011, can't wait!) left to beat to take over the cricket world leadership!

Downs: Shame England could not end it on day four and the celebrations had to be potsponed for another day. The atmosphere today was awesome and unbeatable. The England fans will be there on the last day, no doubt whatsoever, but I still don't think they will be able to beat the cheers and chants from this day!

Hero to zero: After mentioning his lack of form yesterday, surprise, surprise, Paul Collingwood announced his retirement from Test cricket after this series. I don't think he had much of a choice. No discrediting his contributions, we will certainly miss him at slip and on the field, but with the bat, I'm sorry, as mentioned yesterday, I don't think he would have survived on the team sheet and batting lineup for much longer anyway...

Australia v England fifth Test fourth day as it happened:

Highlights taken from the BBC website:

1st session:

- Looks like it's confirmed that Colly has called it quits after 67 Tests. But he remains a key member of the one-day side (and T20 captain to boot), so it's not the last we've seen of the hard-working Durham all-rounder. Players walking out, we're nearly ready to start...

- England 489-7: Mitchell Johnson takes the first over of the day, bowling left-arm fast around the wicket (in Wasim Akram mode) - it's the bearded Prior and the burly Bresnan taking up arms for England. Prior knocks a single through the covers, and Aggers on TMS gently pulls Michael Vaughan's leg for "blubbing" in his press conference when he retired as captain in 2008.

- England 493-7: "Gentle Ben" Hilfenhaus, whose Ashes series has rather gone downhill since dismissing Strauss with the third ball of the series, begins the 143rd over as Prior tries to turn him to leg and they trot through for a leg bye, before Bresnan does the same. Prior dabs a two to third man, he's up to 57.

- DRINKS BREAK, England 525-7: The snarling Peter Siddle replaces Johnson. Prior prods a single, but his Yorkshire partner remains stout in defence - and the players have earned their first drinks break of the day. The lead is 245.

- England 547-7 - THIRD NEW BALL AVAILABLE: Leg-spinner Steve Smith, ruffled blond hair sticking up for fine weather, hops and skips in to Prior, who helps himself to three through third man. Smith - demoted to number seven but not called upon to bowl until the 102nd over yesterday - is plundered for two by Bresnan, and the third cherry is available. "Always a depressing moment for a fielding side," notes my match-report colleague Oliver Brett.

- England 567-7: Two contrasting spinners in action here, Beer keeps it tight but Prior sweeps another two before crashing a four through the covers for his fourth Test century. He leaps into the air and salutes the Barmy Army - astonishingly, it's apparently the fastest Ashes century (109 balls) by an Englishman since Botham (Old Trafford, 1981) - THAT'S A RECORD: And that's nine centuries for England - the most they've ever got in an Ashes series.

- THAT'S A RECORD - England 582-7: Smith has clearly been hit out of the attack as Cap'n Clarke takes the third new ball and hands it to Mitchell Johnson... who as we know, may bowl it just about anywhere. Bresnan belts the new cherry through the covers, cracking shot and it zips over the rope too fast for the sweeper to cut it off. A leg bye rotates the strike, this is now England's highest eighth-wicket stand at the SCG, beating the 86 by "Young Jack" Hearne and JWHT ("Johnny Won't Hit Today") Douglas in 1911. Prior swipes a four over the slips and helps himself to a two through mid-wicket, 11 from the over and the stand is now worth 97.

- England 584-7: With the new ball available, Hilfenhaus returns, and briefly halts the free-scoring eighth-wicket pair as he sends down a maiden to Bresnan. DRINKS BREAK

- WICKET, Bresnan c Clarke b Johnson 35 (England 589-8): Unbelievably, Michael Clarke has a bit of a grin on his face as Johnson begins a new over to Prior, who plays and misses with an expansive drive. But then he does connect with the same shot, and it pings sweetly off his bat for his 11th four of the innings to bring up the century stand from 168 balls. A single takes him to 116. But Bres gets an edge as he pushes forward and Clarke pouches it at second slip.

- WICKET, Prior c Haddin b Hilfenhaus 118 (England 609-9): With half an hour until lunch, Hilfenhaus digs in a bouncer and a miscued hook from Swann dribbles towards mid-wicket as they run one. But Prior's entertaining knock is ended when he tries to upper-cut and is caught behind. Or is he? What the deuce? It's another of those no-ball referrals... and as TV replays show a fraction of Hilfenhaus's foot behind the popping crease, umpire Billy Bowden sends Prior on his way.

- England 629-9: Chris Tremlett is England's last man - and not the worst number 11 they've ever fielded, having seven first-class fifties to his name. But he's the non-striker as Swann steers a two, before swatting a bouncer over fine leg and that's six! A straight drive brings the Notts spinner two more, then he whacks Johnson over mid-off for four! "This reminds me of my university days, bowling against county batsmen filling their boots," notes Vic Marks on TMS. Swann heaves a three towards cow corner, and Tremlett edges his first ball past the slips for three - that's 20 off the over. Johnson has 4-168, and this is England's second highest innings score in Australia...

- England 629-9: The highest England score in Australia is 636 in a timeless Test in Sydney in 1928, with Wally Hammond scoring 251, while wicketkeeper George Duckworth (a regular 10 or 11 at international level) made his highest Test score of 39 not out. Back in the present day, Tremlett plays out a maiden from Hilfenhaus.

- UMPIRE REVIEW: Johnson joins Smith in having been hit out of the attack after that last over went for 20. Swann swings, Siddle appeals for a catch behind, the umpire is unmoved and Australia call for a review... NOT OUT! Replays seem to show the ball flicking Swann's shirt rather than his bat, and so Swann stays his ground and Australia have lost a review.

- England 630-9: Swann swipes a single, Tremlett is cut in half by a lifter from Siddle which will give the tall seamer a little encouragement that the wicket may have a little in it for him this afternoon... England lead by 350, and we're coming up towards lunch.

- INTERVAL, LUNCH - England 636-9: Siddle to serve up probably the last over before lunch, Swann turns it off his legs for a single. Vic Marks on TMS has picked up an email in the inbox from Ben Powell which points out that "Steve Smith has seven first-class fifties, so I guess that makes Tremlett an all-rounder too!" Swann runs a leg bye, a cover-driven two by Tremlett draws England level with that 636 from Sydney in 1928, then Tremlett is struck on the shoulder by a bouncer but looks unmoved. He survives the over - and that's lunch. Swann has 33, Tremlett has seven, England lead by 356, and their fans will feel all is right with the world.

2nd session:

- THAT'S A RECORD - England 643-9: Michael Beer bowls, a Swann single brings England their highest Test score in Australia. Michael Vaughan on TMS expects Chris Tremlett to have a swing at Beer, and he's perfectly capable of clearing the ropes - but he's content to prod a single at this stage. Swann sweeps for one, then Beer tosses up a Jeremy Snape-style "moon ball" and Tremlett whacks it through extra cover for four!

- WICKET, Tremlett c Haddin b Hilfenhaus 12 (England 644 all out): Hilfenhaus to Swann, who guides a quick single past gully, then Tremlett prods forward and is caught behind. England's epic innings is ended in the 178th over - and the lead is a Len Hutton-esque 364.

- Australia 7-0: Watson hooks the first ball of the innings from James Anderson for four through mid-wicket - clearly Australia have nothing to gain by blocking, so this could be worth watching. Watson laces a cover drive for three, Hughes shoulders arms to his first ball.

- Australia 7-0: Chris Tremlett, fresh from his batting cameo, shares the new ball with Anderson, Watson drives firmly but can't beat Jonathan Trott at short extra cover. Maiden over.

- WICKET, Watson run out 38 (Australia 46-1): Swann, round the wicket to the left-handed Hughes, continues from the Randwick End - Hughes works a single off his legs, Watson turns blindly and sets off for a second run, and while Hughes hasn't moved, Watson is run out by two-thirds of the length of the pitch! Having sawn Hughes off in the first innings, and run Katich out at Adelaide, Watson is starting to get a reputation as a bad runner between the wickets. (Nasser Hussain managed to run out most of the rest of the team at various points when he was England captain). Usman Khawaja is the new batsman and defends his first two balls.

- APPEAL - NOT OUT, Australia 52-1: Big appeal from Swann as Hughes sticks his front pad out and offers no shot, you're always dicing with disaster when you do that... The opener forces a single to leg.

- WICKET, Hughes c Prior b Bresnan 13 (Australia 52-2): A great ball by Bresnan finds the edge and Prior takes a great catch in front of first slip!

- APPEAL - NOT OUT, Australia 52-2: Michael Clarke is the new batsman, averaging 19 for the series (well, at least it's more than Ricky Ponting's 16.14). Bresnan goes charging in, and stumbles over in his follow-through, then there's a big leg-before shout off the last ball of the over as Clarke is hit on the pad, but England decide against a review.

- INTERVAL, TEA - Australia 77-2: Now then, I wonder whether England might give Pietersen a bowl at some point in the final session, given that he accounted for Clarke in Adelaide with the last ball of the fourth day... It's Swann to close out the afternoon session, he sends down a maiden to Clarke and that's tea. Clarke has 19, Khawaja has four and Australia trail by 287.

3rd session:

- Australia 79-2: Chris Tremlett's first ball after tea to Khawaja is down the leg side, there's a half-hearted appeal for a catch behind but England rightly decide not to review it. Khawaja then pulls a two to deep backward square leg.

- Australia 96-2: Swann, tossing up his off-spin from around the wicket has a slip as well as helmeted men at short leg and silly point for the debutant Khawaja. He prods forward, that's a maiden over and as Boycs said on TMS earlier, bowling a string of maidens may be England's best way of building pressure to serve up a wicket - it worked for Hughes, after all...

- Australia 100-2: Clarke steers Tremlett for four through the covers, Australia are up to three figures and the home skipper removes his helmet to wipe the sweat off his head. These two have added 48 from 88 balls.

- WICKET, Khawaja c Prior b Anderson 21 (Australia 117-3): Khawaja cracks Anderson for four over mid-wicket, but then he nicks one to the keeper and Anderson goes absolutely mad in celebration!

- DRINKS BREAK, Australia 124-3: Hussey is finally off the mark as he pushes Swann for a quick single through the covers. Clarke cuts past the diving Tremlett at backward point and they run three. Hussey gets forward well to push a two through cover, and umpire Aleem Dar calls on the drinks cart. We have 16 overs remaining today.

- WICKET, Clarke c Prior b Anderson 41 (Australia 124-4): Right, Australia trail by 240 and it's eyes down for the final stretch of day four. And the drinks break has done the trick as Clarke falls prey to a lovely reverse-swinger from Jimmy A and feathers an edge to Prior behind the timbers!

- APPEAL - NOT OUT, Australia 135-4: Haddin steers a two and a single, this pair - who enjoyed a mammoth partnership in Brisbane that feels so long ago - are both on seven. A loud appeal for a catch behind, Hussey stays his ground - do England go for the review? They decide against it - and just as well, as replays appear inconclusive, and Hussey would have got the benefit of any doubt.

- DROPPED CATCH, Australia 140-4: Haddin is down the track, taking on Swann, there's a man at deep mid-on... but it's just out of the reach of the leaping Tim Bresnan and over his head for four. (A taller player may have caught it - Tremlett? Steven Finn? Will Jefferson? Mohammad Irfan, that 7ft 1in Pakistan seamer?) He then chops one into the covers, there's a really hard chance to the diving Bell at short cover - difficult, but still a chance, and he can't hold on.

- Australia 146-4: Hussey is watchful against Swann, although a short ball is punished by being pulled through square leg for four. The official close of play today is 0630 GMT, there are eight overs to be bowled after this one and they can continue until 0700 to bowl the overs if necessary - and it's not impossible that if three or four wickets fall in the next eight overs, England could claim the extra half-hour on the grounds that they had a realistic chance of finishing the match tonight.

- Australia 152-4: Steve Smith, next man in for Australia, is biting his nails on the Aussie balcony - as well he might. No sign of a nightwatchman. Haddin has quietly motored up to 19 by aggressively square-cutting Swann for three. Six overs left, and with the spinner on, we may not need much "overtime" for a change.

- WICKET, Hussey c Pietersen b Bresnan 12 (Australia 161-5): More runs for Haddin as he guides Bresnan through the covers for two before another fluent drive through the same region brings him four. A leg bye rotates the strike, this pair have added 37 - but then it's bye bye Hussey as he cuts straight to gully!

- Australia 165-5: So, five down, how many do England need to take the extra half-hour? Six? Seven? Steve Smith, who doesn't appear to be in this side as a batsman or a bowler, is the new batsman - but he's the non-striker as Swann takes a well-deserved rest after a 23-over spell, and Tremlett returns. The Surrey man immediately has Haddin fishing at thin air outside off stump. A leg bye brings young Smith on strike, he knocks his first ball to cover for a single. Haddin prods forward, sends Smith back and he would have been run out at the bowler's end if the throw had hit... Haddin pushes a two past gully, and the Aussies now trail by under 200.

- WICKET, Haddin c Prior b Tremlett 30 (Australia 171-6): Tremlett begins the antepenultimate over of the day, Haddin tries to get out of the way of a short ball, gets a nick and it steeples to Prior! Huge wicket!

- WICKET, Johnson b Tremlett (Australia 171-7): Mitchell Johnson bowled first ball as he tries to jam his bat down, Tremlett on a hat-trick!

- Australia 171-7: Peter Siddle is the new batsman, all the England supporters are on their feet and Tremlett is on a hat-trick. "If he's on the money here, it's out," says Michael Vaughan on TMS. Siddle's hit on the pad, the slips appeal... but the bowler doesn't. Dot ball. A double-wicket maiden from Tremlett, and Cap'n Strauss had a word with the umpires after Johnson's dismissal, will they claim the extra half-hour?

- Australia 176-7: Skipper Strauss chats with Ump Dar before Tremlett charges in for the last scheduled over. Siddle is doughty in defence, he plays and misses at one which seams past his outside edge. There are four slips, a gully and a short leg in for the Aussie tail-ender, who fishes at thin air to the fourth ball of the over. "That were too good for thee," I can hear Fred Trueman saying... The fifth ball trickles off an edge along the ground to gully, and Siddle flicks the last ball off his legs for four as Tremlett's radar momentarily strays. Umpires come together for a chat... and England have taken the extra half-hour. We'll have eight overs or half-an-hour, whichever is the later.

- Australia 176-7: Smith resumes defensive duties against Bresnan as Australia "try to delay the inevitable and take the game into a fifth day," says Simon Mann on TMS. Maiden over, seven overs remaining.

- Australia 181-7: Tremlett still has four slips, a gully and a short leg for Siddle, who is hit on the pad as he tries to flick the ball to leg. Roughly two-thirds of the slip cordon appeal, without much conviction. That's a nice stroke from Siddle, he drives one that jags back at him through the covers and they run three. Smith, with a slightly open stance, guides a single to mid-on. Six overs left tonight.

- Australia 181-7: The Barmy Army are in fine voice with their "Everywhere we go" song, led by "Jimmy Saville" as usual, as Siddle defends against Bresnan. He tries to force one off his legs... and it doesn't quite carry to Bell, who's fielding in a sort of shortish backward square leg position. Five overs to go.

- Australia 191-7: Tremlett - "the pride of Otterbourne" according to a recent Hampshire local newspaper report, and I'm sure his parents are watching - runs in to Smith, who hangs his bat out to steer a wideish ball for four. Tremlett oversteps for a no-ball, then Smith plays and misses at one that bounces twice in front of Prior who can't take it cleanly and they run a couple of byes. A single ensures Smith keeps the strike.

- Australia 198-7: A big roar from the England fans in the crowd as Anderson returns to the attack for a last two-over blast at the Aussie tail-enders. Smith steers a two off his legs, then slashes a four through third man - as I mentioned, the runs are largely irrelevant, it's all about whether England can whittle out these last three wickets in the next three overs or whether we'll all be back for day five.

- Australia 198-7: The Otterbourne Enforcer takes a rest and England turn to Graeme Swann, who has three predatory close fielders round the bat for Smith. You sense that England may just have run out of juice tonight - it's been a marathon day with an extended start and an extended finish - and as Swann completes a maiden, we have two overs left. England need to take two wickets in the penultimate over if they're going to win it tonight - as if a wicket falls in the last over, they'll go off immediately.

- Australia 208-7: Siddle chops Anderson for four, that's 200 up for Australia (like that matters!), before angling a two to third man. Siddle keeps out the fifth ball of the over, so we'll be back tonight. He edges the last ball over the slips for four, and we've got one more over in the day.

- CLOSE OF PLAY, Australia 213-7: Although Geoff Boycott wants England to bring on Kevin Pietersen to toss the ball up, England will conclude day four's proceedings with Graeme Swann's orthodox off-spin. With close fielders surrounding the bat, Smith punches a four through the vacant cover region - this pair have somehow put on 41! Siddle defends the last ball of the day and walks off - that's the close of play and as Aggers notes on TMS tomorrow, unless the heavens open with rain tomorrow, England should wrap up a series victory.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Cook and Bell run riot to make Aussies suffer

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 5th Test - Sydney - Day 3

My picks of the third day:

Centurions Alastair Cook (189) and Ian Bell (115) shared a fine partnership of 154 to give England a lead of 208 at the end of day three at Sydney. England had started the day on 167-3, nightwatchman James Anderson (7) and Paul Collingwood (13) falling relatively early when Cook and Bell took over, taking England from 226-5 to 488-7, Matt Prior sticking by and still standing on 54 at stumps.

Run of Play: Advantage to...

1st session, England 277-5, 3 runs behind at lunch: England lose two wickets but Cook and Bell keep their heads screwed on right and even the keel, closing in on erasing the arrears.

2nd session, England 378-5, 98 ahead at tea: England are cruising with Cook breaking all the records and Bell joining in on frustrating the Aussie bowlers.

3rd session, England 488-7, 208 ahead at the end of day three: Cook and Bell had to fall eventually, but not before they established themselves and England with fine centuries and a strong lead.

Partnerships: Cook broke all sorts of records with his 189-run-stint this innings alone contributing to his overall total of 766 series runs and bringing over 2,200 minutes he batted this series to a successful end, overtaking the likes of John Edrich, Geoff Boycott, Graham Gooch and Denis Compton and leaving only Wally Hammond - who hit 905 in the 1928/29 Ashes - to conquer. Cook finally edged a tired drive to Mike Hussey at gully off Shane Watson after tea, ending the parternship at 154 and leaving Bell to go on to his first Ashes ton (115). But after two lucky escapes - one Snicko-nick-catch overturned on 67 and one return-catch dropped by Steven Smith on 84 - Bell also fell in the penultimate over of the day, edging an easy catch to Michael Clarke at slip off Mitchell Johnson. Prior was joined by Tim Bresnan and ended the day unbeaten on his second Ashes fifty (54*).

Bowlers: It hasn't been debutant Michael Beer's day and match that is for sure. You had to feel sorry for him after another review didn't go his way - Cook's flip went straight to Phillip Hughes at short-leg, but the replays showed the ball dropped just short and bounced into his hands. The same goes for all the bowlers really, Australia drawing a very sorry and frustrated picture as decisions and reviews didn't go their way throughout the day, with the batsmen staying on top. Peter Siddle and Beer got the early wickets, Watson and Johnson the late breakthroughs, but it was too little and too late in the end for Australia. They barely celebrated the latter wickets as they know the state of affairs, needing a win here to avoid losing the series but trailing by 208 runs.

Ups: More and more twists and turns with more salt on the Aussies' wounds added by the review system - it is all looking to go England's way at the moment, the Ashes, the decisions, the match, the series.

Downs: Is it worth trying to get a wicket fiddled when you know you will be found out? When Hughes went up cheering, you could see the question marks all over him and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin saw exactly what happened. The cameras and third umpired picked up on everything and got it right then anyways. Okay, Bell got a lucky escape when he sent the nick-catch to review and got it overturned although there was an obvious sound, but hey, it wasn't as much an obvious, blatant lie as some other... You are being watched, so don't try to fool yourself!

Hero to zero: Well, I don't think he ever was a hero really, but Collingwood, who was out for 13, has certainly seen better times. The 34-year-old has an average of only 15.54 runs in his last 10 Test matches and I'm not too sure he will get another chance to make up for it... Shame... But the main thing is we beat the Aussies , I'm sure he agrees!

Australia v England fifth Test third day as it happened:

Highlights taken from the BBC website:

1st session:

- Both England and Australia's players took to the field today with pink caps which were handed to Glenn McGrath at the bottom of the stairs to be auctioned off later. Pink everywhwere in fact at the SCG, it's a cricket ground as designed by Jordan. Hilfenhaus with the first over of the day...

- England 168-3: Nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson is on strike and he plays the first few balls well, standing on tip-toes to get above a short one before dropping his hands on another. Bit of in-swing to the left-handed Anderson and there's a strangled lbw appeal - still no reviews though, that was hooping down leg.

- WICKET, Anderson b Siddle 7 (England 181-4): Jimmy's gone - Siddle's first wicket of the match, pitching on middle, darting right and taking out off-stump, far too good for Anderson.

- England 197-4: Hilfenhaus gets another one to hoop back into Cook and the batsman is sawn in two. The Aussie seamers still not mixing up the angles against Cook, despite his 650 runs, surely they should be thinking about attacking Cook from around the wicket? A statue of Steve Waugh unveiled today at the SCG, which would be tremendous, if it didn't look a bit like Stan Laurel. Must arouse very mixed feelings, having a statue unveiled of you that doesn't look anything like you...

- England 212-4: Cook has now overtaken Hobbs and Boycott as high England scorers in Ashes series - ahead of him now are Gooch (673), Gower (732), Sutcliffe (734) and Hammond (905). Now, that's what you call illustrious. He moves to 90 with a cut for three, homing in on his third ton of the series. Short from Watson and Colly looks to fetch him from outside off, but doesn't quite time it.

- UMPIRE REVIEW: Left-arm spinner Beer drops short and is cut away for a couple... two more for Cook with a work to mid-wicket, he's now 99... GONE NEXT BALL! Cook flipping straight to the man at short-leg! No, it's going upstairs... NOT OUT! And rightly so, that bounced into Phil Hughes's hands at short-leg. Naughty, very naughty, and replays show wicketkeeper Haddin knew that wasn't out in the first place... England 221-4: You have to feel sorry for Beer, but both not out decisions have been correct. The Aussie fans may well boo, but it's Hughes who was the villain in that piece. Watson straight and full to Collingwood and the Durham man is looking like an lbw candidate at the moment, maiden over.

- WICKET, Collingwood c Hilfenhaus b Beer 13 (England 226-5): Six dots from Watson... here's Beer, who could have two Test wickets but has none instead... STRIKE THAT! Rancid shot by Collingwood, advancing down the track, looking to heave over the top and holing out to the man at mid-on.

- England 234-5: Cook has now batted for 2,000 minutes in this series, which is just six minutes short of the England record held by John Edrich, set in the 1970-71 series. Bit of turn for Beer, which will encourage Swanny up in the England dressing room, Cook shovels through mid-wicket for one, Bell adds a single. Seven overs until the new ball.

- England 259-5: Maiden over from Beer, Bell not taking any liberties with the inexperienced tweaker. As it stands, Cook has the highest average of any batsman in an Ashes series (many thanks, Niblett79 on Twitter) - 139.40, next to Bradman's 139.14 from the 1930 series. Simon Hughes doing his nut on TMS about the Aussie seamers' lack of imagination and inability to think for themselves - they're still not coming around the wicket to Cook, not sure why. Bell offered width by Siddle and Bell carves him away for four. New ball due...

- INTERVAL, LUNCH - England 277-5: Hilfenhaus was poor with the new ball, but he's been replaced by a man who could be even poorer - Johnson's first delivery is a wide, miles outside Bell's off-stump. Bell tucks off his hip to bring up the fifty partnership before Cook drops into the off-side and scampers one - could have been a run-out, but Johnson's throw on the turn just missed. Pretty insipid stuff from Mitchell, and that's luncheon.

2nd session:

- England 283-5: It's Hilfenhaus to continue, and he's really found things tough going this series - five wickets from four Tests at an average of 73.6, and Bell raises that a smidgeon with a peachy clip through mid-wicket for four.

- England 303-5: Poor from Johnson - short, wide and Cook piles into that, thrashing the ball through backward-point for four to bring up the England 300. The partnership now 77 from 135 balls and Cook and Bell are looking serene. Watson with another tight over, but Australia need more than tight, they need nice and tight with a slash down the side...

- DRINKS BREAK, England 329-5: That's like honey dripping off the back of a spoon from Bell, a sweet back-cut for a couple. Cook has now passed Sutcliffe's 734 runs, he's now fifth on England's overall list for series against any country. Drinks, and there's no dignity in that drinks cart...

- England 358-5: Cook, still concentrating like a hawk, has now racked up the second biggest aggregate by any Englishman in any Test series. Only Wally Hammond (905) to beat. Among those he has surpassed are Gooch in 1990, remember that. He got about 500 in one Test.

- INTERVAL, TEA - England 378-5: Two singles from Hilfenhaus's final over before tea, and England-wise, sessions don't come more satisfactory than that - Cook 188, Bell 62, the Aussies are taking a shellacking...

3rd session:

- WICKET, Cook c Hussey b Watson 189 (England 380-6): Cook's gone! He drives and squirts to Hussey in the gully, that was a neat catch diving low to his right... Cook's innings lasted 342 balls and included 16 fours - he has now batted for 36 hours and 11 minutes in this series. "Lovely," purrs Sir Boycs. Wicketkeeper Prior is next up the ramp and he sees out the rest of Watson's over.

- UMPIRE REVIEW: Prior off the mark with a clip off his pads for one. Bell's so comfortable out there he's now concentrating on aesthetics - he's just asked Umpire Bowden to trim some loose thread from his shirt... we've got a review, I think Bell's nicked one... NOT OUT! Hotspot's showing nothing, but the reaction of Bell is surely telling - he didn't review it immediately, conferring with Prior, which suggests to me he nicked it... but it's been overturned. The expression on Bell's face says it all, guilty little boy with his hand in the cookie jar... England 385-6: Bell wears one in the orchestras from Watson's final delivery, the Aussie fans enjoyed that. Guess what? Snicko says that was a nick from Bell, shame the boys upstairs aren't furnished with that information... Stump mic has also picked up that nick... I'll leave it now, but if I was an Aussie I'd be very annoyed, in fact I'd be livid.

- England 400-6: The inside of Michael Clarke's mind must look like something by Hieronymus Bosch, it's fast turning into a nightmare for him out there. Johnson back on and it's short and wide and Prior pulls him away to bring up the England 400. That's a snorter from Mitchell, pitching on leg and beating Bell's outside edge.

- DRINKS BREAK, England 433-6: Spitter from Johnson, that reared up off a length and took Bell on the gloves. The England seamers will be licking their lips at that, here's drinks...

- THAT'S 100, England 458-6: Prior eases down the ground for a single and Bell is on strike on 99. Bell surveys the scene before settling over his bat... Smith tosses one up and Bell drives, but for no run... Bell forces into the off-side and that's his maiden Ashes ton - he's not the Sherminator any more, Warnie, your boys just got owned...

- England 463-6: I am pleased to report that at least Haddin and Clarke clapped that Bell ton, not sure about anyone else, the camera didn't show them. A few boos from the Aussies in the crowd, but hey, no-one in this office is crying, we grew up on a diet of Aussie beatings. That ton from Bell took 209 balls and included 11 fours, it was his 31st innings against Australia. Three more for Bell with a chop down to third-man...

- MATT PRIOR 50 - England 484-6: Maiden over from Beer... sorry about that, was staring into space for that entire over... here's your man Mitchell Johnson, and let the Barmy Army barracking begin. Not sure it was wise of Mitchell to let his distaste for the Army be known, it's a bit like Jermain Defoe complaining before a North London derby about Arsenal fans having a tendency to be beastly. What a shot that is from Prior in the fading light, lofting Johnson over cover-point for four runs, and he squeezes through backward-point for his second fifty of the series, from only 54 balls - England lead by 204.

- WICKET, Bell c Clarke b Johnson 115 (England 487-7): Prior with that exaggerated glide of his down to third-man and he runs up one... Bell's gone! Fencing at a ball from Johnson and Clarke taking a low catch at first slip - he leaves the field to much applause from the Barmy Army and some boos from the Aussie contingent, about which he will not give a jot. By the way, that sixth-wicket partnership between Cook and Bell of 154 was a record for England at the SCG - better late than never... Timothy Bresnan is next up the ramp, can he tap some runs with the pressure off?

- BAD LIGHT STOPS PLAY, England 488-7: Three men round the bat for Bresnan as Beer comes tip-toeing in like a butterfly with sore feet... Bresnan looks to mow him through the off-side but only succeeds in getting an inside-edge for nowt... they're going off for light, and don't be surprised if they don't come back tonight...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cook builds England reply after Aussie revival

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 5th Test - Sydney - Day 2

My picks of the second day:

Mitchell Johnson (53) and Ben Hilfenhaus (34) made a fine revival for Australia with a smashing 76-partnership in 15 overs after the home side fell from 134-4 to 189-8 on day two of the fifth Test in Sydney. Australia were eventually all out for 280 and saw England openers Andrew Strauss (60 off 58) and Alastair Cook smash in a 98-partnership before the skipper fell. England dropped a couple more wickets before the end of the day, leaving Cook unbeaten on 61 and England on 167-3.

Run of Play: Advantage to...

1st session, Australia 230-8 at lunch: After losing four wickets for only 55 runs, Johnson and Hilfenhaus survived and performed a good recovery, sparing Australia from a total collapse and an embarrassing low total.

2nd session, Australia 280 all out, England 73-0, 207 behind at tea: England finally broke the Johnson-Hilfenhaus partnership and Australia fell all out soon after. England will be happy with their strong opening partnership and start of reply.

3rd session, England 167-3, 113 behind at the end of day two: England frustrated Australia, no decisions going the hosts' way and the batsmen making it as difficult as possible for the bowlers whilst keeping the scoreboard ticking and opener Cook holding and scoring on well.

Partnerships: England must have gone into the day thinking they will be batting before lunch not expecting the 76-run partnership with a smashing half-century innings by Johnson (53) and fine contribution from Hilfenhaus (34). Once Johnson fell, bowled by Tim Bresnan, Hilfenhaus followed soon after, caught behind off James Anderson and Australia were all out for 280, a more respectable total than feared and expected by the home side after collapsing to 189-8. England in reply made a fine opening with skipper Strauss smashing in 60 off 58 and a 98 partnership with Cook, who is still standing on 61 after being given out on 46, caught at mid-on off debutant spinner Michael Beer, but reviews showed it was a no-ball. After Strauss was eventually bowled by Hilfenhaus, Jonathan Trott followed soon after also bowled by Johnson and out for his first duck, it looked like Hilfenhaus and Johnson were there to spoil the show for England again. But Kevin Pietersen (36) calmed England's nerves and evened things out again with a fine little stint before he was caught by Beer from the long-leg boundary off Johnson and nightwatchman Anderson had to take over.

Bowlers: Hilfenhaus (34 runs and 1 wicket) and Johnson (53 runs and 2 wickets) are without a doubt the stars of the day, with bat and ball, sparing Australia from total embarrassment and leaving them in this match with more than a shout. Beer got his debut wicket too - on a no-ball, which is unforgivable for a spinner! It was most certainly not all sweetness and light and saviour for the Aussies as England smashed and bashed in well enough to frustrate and sour the taste for them. Anderson took four wickets including the last one with Hilfenhaus. Paul Collingwood and Bresnan contributed with one each, the latter getting the most crucial break and victim with Johnson. They all made it a juicy, action-packed day, see how and against whom it will turn tomorrow...

Ups: Just when you thought the Aussies were on their knees, their lower-order decides to smash and spoil the show and make a match of it - that makes one perfect, spicy encounter!

Downs: I can't find one thing to moan about really, makes a change!

Hero to zero: From centurion, record scorer and man of the match to zero, Trott will not want to remember this one. After just six deliveries, the duck left the field after dragging the ball onto his stumps and left fears of a crumble for England. It all belongs to the game and every strong player has had it and has to come back stronger from it. It all belongs to the experience - ask most of the Australian batsmen!

Australia v England fifth Test second day as it happened:

Highlights taken from the BBC website:

1st session:

- WICKET, Haddin c Prior b Anderson 6 (Australia 143-5): Haddin with a proud looking punch into the covers for two as the sun makes its maiden appearance in this match. Anderson gets a spot of in-duck that tucks Haddin up... and he's gone next ball! Feet staked to the turf, a wild and windy waft outside off and Prior has him on toast.

- DRINKS BREAK, Australia 158-5: Smith remaining watchful against Swann, just the one run from his over, a squirt down to fine-leg for one. Bresnan to continue and he tests Smith out with a bit of chin music - not particularly well-played, an attempted hook without much control. One run for it, here comes the drinks cart...

- WICKET, Hussey b Collingwood 33 (Australia 171-6): Collingwood drags one in short and Hussey's rocks back and tugs him away for a couple. I was introduced to The Only Way Is Essex over the Yuletide period... SHUT UP DIRS, COLLINGWOOD'S CLEANED UP HUSSEY! Nothing shot from Hussey, inside-edge onto pad, stumps splattered...

- WICKET, Smith c Collingwood b Anderson 18 (Australia 187-7): Sorry Aussies, I just jinxed your boy - awful shot from Smith, looking to trolley Anderson over cover and edging to Collingwood at third slip...

- WICKET, Siddle c Strauss b Anderson 2 (Australia 189-8): England keep picking up wickets at the right time, and the Aussies aren't exactly making them graft for them - poor shots from Haddin, Hussey and Smith, who handed Anderson his 19th wicket of the series. Siddle squirts through imaginary fourth slip for a couple and he's gone two balls later, edging to Strauss at first slip - England dropping nothing.

- INTERVAL, LUNCH - Australia 230-8: Tremlett loses his line and Johnson fills his boots, tickling the ball to the boundary. Tremlett goes leg-side again and Johnson heaves him away for one more before Hilfenhaus edges past Bresnan at gully for one. Not sure why Bresnan's at gully - they started off with KP, then it was Anderson, now it's Bresnan. That's lunch, the Aussies throwing back before the break...

2nd session:

- MITCHELL JOHNSON 50 - Australia 261-8: Johnson getting stuck into Swann now - first he hoicks him through mid-wicket for four before upping the volume, heaving him over the top for six. And there's his fifty - neat shot that, a checked dab into the leg-side. The SCG crowd rises, Mitchell has given them hope...

- WICKET, Johnson b Bresnan 53 (Australia 265-9): Two more for Johnson, who now has six Test fifties, courtesy of a drive into the covers before Hilfenhaus misses out with an attempted hook. Bresnan gives him the look, Hilfenhaus grins and shrugs... Johnson's gone two balls later! Bresnan with a ball that comes back a touch and he rips out Johnson's off-stump.

- WICKET, Hilfenhaus c Prior b Anderson 34 (Australia 280): That's all folks - Anderson does the trick with his first ball since lunch, Hilfenhaus having a woof at a short ball and feathering to Prior behind the stumps...

- Very irritating runs from Johnson and Hilfenhaus, from an England point of you, very valuable from an Aussie point of you - it's late runs like that that can make all the difference...

- APPEAL - NOT OUT, England 20-0: Bored of full inswingers, Hilfenhaus switches to bouncers and watches Strauss pull both of them for four. Back to plan A? Indeed, and here's an lbw appeal but that's not out and there's no review. We still haven't had a review in the match which means umpires Bowden and Dar are on hot form.

- England 50-0: Siddle to continue and he does what Michael Vaughan thinks he should do, ploughing a line on the top of off-stump. Watson doing some stretches, we could have him into the attack soon. Cook leaving well, and as Watson has already shown, that's a pretty good shot on this pitch... so is that, a swivel-pull to bring up the fifty partnership in only 10 overs.

- INTERVAL, TEA - England 73-0: That is crackerjack from Strauss - over-pitched from Siddle and the England skipper laces him through the covers for four. Laminate that and stick it up on your bedroom ceiling. That's tea time, what a session for England, the momentum ripped back from the hosts - for now...

3rd session:

- WICKET, Strauss b Hilfenhaus 60 (England 98-1): Strauss is a goner! Hilfenhaus has been threatening to do that, getting the ball to swing back in to the England skipper before nipping it away off the seam and ripping out off-stump - to be fair, almost unplayable.

- WICKET, Trott b Johnson 0 (England 99-2): Too straight from Johnson and Cook nurdles him for a single... TROTT'S GONE! One wicket brings another, as often happens in cricket, the Warwickshire man dangling his bat and dragging Johnson on...

- DRINKS BREAK, England 118-2: One for Cook before Pietersen slams a size 12 down the pitch and laces Hilfenhaus through the covers for four. Drinks.

- UMPIRE REVIEW: A first Test wicket for Beer?! Cook looking to heave him over mid-wicket and holing out to the man at mid-on! Hang on a minute! The umpires are going upstairs, Bowden reckons it could be a no-ball! Surely not, he's spinner after all... NOT OUT, England 145-2: Deary me, Umpire Bowden's got it right, Beer overstepped - that is unforgivable from a spinner, and a huge boon for England. Not only is it a life for Cook, Beer will feel as though he's just had his head skimmed off. Cook picks up one to mid-wicket before Pietersen picks up a couple with a flick off his pads. Big moment...

- WICKET, Pietersen c Beer b Johnson 36 (England 165-2): PIETERSEN'S GONE! A well-directed bumper from Johnson, KP throws the bat at it and your man Beer takes the catch running in from the long-leg boundary. He's just not learning...

- CLOSE OF PLAY, England 167-3: Johnson with the final six balls of the day... short-leg wheeled into place, as well as a leg slip, three slips, two gullys and a short extra cover - and that's horrible from Johnson, short and fast and Anderson plays that very, very well. That's a ripper from Johnson but Anderson plays it well again, dropping his hands on it and watching it scoot through... well played James Anderson, real tough situation that and he acquitted himself well - stumps.