Aussies Cooked then tormented by Bell
Australia were once again buried by the bat of England’s relentless opener Alastair Cook before Ian Bell used the decision review system as an instrument of torture on day three of the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG.
England reached 7-488 by stumps in reply to Australia’s 280, powered by Cook’s 189.
Elegant as ever, Bell (115) added 154 with Cook (189) but triggered the most rancorous moment of the day when he appealed a caught behind decision on 67.
Replays appeared to show a deflection but “hotspot” footage was cold, and the third umpire Tony Hill reversed the original decision of Aleem Dar.
Channel Nine’s “snicko” device, not available to the match officials, suggested a thin edge, and Bell’s century was met with plenty of boos amid the cheers from a crowd of 40,300.
Neither Cook nor Australian captain Michael Clarke would countenance any allegations of cynicism against Bell.
“I don’t think any players are trying to bluff technology,” said Cook.
“I think you could end up with egg on your face quite quickly if you try and do that.”
Clarke said occasionally a thin edge could elude the knowledge of a batsman.
“Sometimes you can’t (tell if you’ve hit it) and I would find it very hard to believe anybody would refer a decision if they hit it,” he said.
“I think Ian wasn’t sure and that’s why he referred it. That’s technology, that’s what we’ve got, and we can’t do a thing about it.”
Cook’s third century of the series maintained a limpet-like hold on the batting crease, which has now reaped 766 runs at 127.66.
It is the second highest series tally for an England batsman in all Ashes contests behind Sir Walter Hammond’s 905 in 1928-29, and the most by anyone since Mark Taylor’s 839 from six Tests for Australia in England in 1989.
He has also passed 1000 first-class runs for the tour, an achievement almost unheard of in the present era of scarce warm-up fixtures.
Twice denied the wicket of Cook, first by a no-ball then a catch that wasn’t, debutant spinner Michael Beer (1-85) defeated the fading Paul Collingwood (13) for his first Test wicket.
Shane Watson (1-49) bowled some testing deliveries and was eventually rewarded with Cook’s wicket, and Peter Siddle (1-98) nipped out nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson (seven).
Resuming at 3-167, Anderson lasted 18 minutes before he played inside a Siddle delivery that struck off stump.
On 99 Cook teased Beer for the second time, nudging the ball into the hands of short leg Phil Hughes, only for replays to show it had bounced and prompt Sir Ian Botham to accuse the fielder of “cheating”.
Beer’s frustration was compounded when Cook reached three figures, and the fact only Mike Hussey applauded provided a fair indication that the Australians have grown decidedly tired of watching him bat.
Collingwood provided a more reliable avenue to a wicket, and it was he who served as Beer’s first, beaten in flight and shovelling a catch to Ben Hilfenhaus at mid on.
Cook meanwhile went on and on, beaten occasionally by Watson but otherwise looking as safe as ever.
Bell was determined to bag a significant score at the end of a series in which he has shown silky touch for only middling rewards, and in Cook he found the perfect counterpoint.
The increasingly bedraggled Clarke tried seven bowlers, including Mike Hussey, and was relieved when Cook sliced Watson into the gully shortly after tea.
Bell’s contentious reprieve scuppered Australian hopes of containment, and the wicketkeeper Matt Prior (54no) made merry in the final hour.
Mitchell Johnson (3-97) coaxed a thick edge from Bell to slip in the closing overs, but a deficit of more than 200 means England are the only team who can win.© AAP 2013
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