Stuart Broad was the real hero for England on the second day of this Ashes decider, but it was poor batting as well as great bowling which led to Australia’s collapse to 160 all out.
No one could have seen that coming after Shane Watson and Simon Katich had taken Australia to 73 for no wicket.
But Broad was brilliant, bowling a great length and mixing it up without losing any control. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem that England’s first innings total was that bad! Twenty-four hours ago England were copping criticism for not making the most of their first innings batting, but at the end of day two they are in a great position to win the match and win back the Ashes.
I think that any lead above 300 will be really tough for Australia but England will want to take their lead well beyond that. I don’t think this pitch is going to get considerably worse – perhaps a little bit more variable bounce but not any more significant turn than there already is.
Australia will still believe that they can win the game, but their batsmen are going to have to apply themselves considerably if they are to have any chance in these conditions.
Australia will regret leaving out Nathan Hauritz, their frontline spinner, especially as Graeme Swann bowled so well to back-up Broad’s five-wicket haul with four of his own.
I have been critical of Swann at times during this series but here he bowled a great line especially to the left-handers. Two of his wickets, however, were down to terrible decisions by the umpires, and both Marcus North and Stuart Clark can count themselves very unlucky.
Paul Collingwood was also out to a no ball in England’s second innings, as Andrew Strauss was in their first innings, and that is just such poor umpiring. The level of umpiring throughout this series has been below standard and should be of concern to the ICC.
But the day belonged to Broad and the way he bowled perfectly for the conditions by keeping the ball up to the bat and combining a bit of swing with cutters and different angles of attack. He has put England in the driving seat.