On third day of Second Test, and England are looking at some firm ground

England arrived in Australia to the disgrace of thrashing, and enduring a bit of a hiding themselves against what was described as “poor” results in Australia. They also arrive to the animosity of James Anderson’s “slapgate” as well as a more full-on “owya” from Perth’s venue in the customary reception for any visiting sporting team.

England’s most fortunate escape from the Ashes, in this year’s clash with Australia is that they will open the 2018-19 series on a Monday in Perth.

The match on Friday is the third day. In the first match of the current round of Tests, Australia out-came England in Melbourne with an extraordinary victory – 287 runs, and Joe Root’s team to the door. In the second match of the current round, in Adelaide, England’s team moved to within sight of the 333 runs required to win, but eventually succumbed in the final session.

In Australia, so dominating on the pitch – even barring those generous efforts – there has been an often-blunt attack on English cricketers – and a particularly nasty knock-back on the likes of Anderson and Ian Bell. But, thankfully, England were more resilient in the Ashes.

Who starts this game? For long spells of the match, Bell has had himself a good day: No. 3 batsman before this Test fell for 105 in the first Test and took to batting with nine partners – eventually three out of their eight. But, Bell put on 152 with Keaton Jennings, which together with Moeen Ali’s 25, took the team to a total which said a few words about the potential of England’s batting department.

In fact, it was on Friday’s second day when Root was bowled for zero by Pat Cummins, another name that has been in the Australian press at one time or another this series. Presumably with a look of “how he forgets to knock off his hat” – to quote Sam Hannan – Root attempted a shot that caught the bat, but on this occasion didn’t hold it.

When the next ball was pulled down the ground, Clarke bowled at Root, Clarke’s second victim of the session, England lost their most-capped player as an individual, and their match-saving wicket.

Up to 25 runs behind Australia as this match resumed on Friday’s second day, and down to a few runs short of the 333 required to win, England had responded to Clarke’s wicket just as they had in the first innings. With all eyes on the chin music sung on the next bat of Marcus Trescothick, who retired hurt, Jonny Bairstow, now England’s most successful batsman this series, took to the field to snatch the cricket side of the match, with three fifties in six innings in the 2013-14 tour.

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