From bad to worse for Australia at Lord’s

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    Did Michael Clarke make the wrong decision in sending England in to bat first at Edgbaston? Yes, yes he did. (image: AAP)

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    Australia were given a demoralising lesson in Test match batting by Joe Root and England at Lord’s on day three of the second Test.

    It was death by a 1000 cuts for the Australians and another disgraceful third umpiring decision added insult to injury.

    England were slow and boring for much of the day, diligently grinding Australia into the dirt to be 5-333 at stumps.

    But how Australia’s batsmen wish they could spend enough time in the middle to be considered slow and boring.

    Root scored a magnificent 178no to anchor England’s second innings, which started day three at 3-31.

    Only four teams in the history of Test cricket have successfully chased targets greater than 400 and already the mark for Australia stands at 566 heading into day four.

    If Australia lose this Test, which seems inevitable, it will extend their losing streak to six, just one more defeat away from their worst-ever run.

    Australia’s bowlers battled hard, after being put in an impossible position by the batting collapse on Friday.

    But the white flag was raised late in the day when Australia refused to take the new ball on offer and seemed content at going through the motions as Root started hitting for the fences.

    Spinners Steve Smith (1-65) and Ashton Agar (0-89) bowled every over of the final hour.

    There are few excuses for Australia’s dire position but from the opening two Tests, the tourists have copped the worst two decisions.

    Ian Bell was given a ridiculous reprieve when he was clearly caught by Smith at gully off Ryan Harris in the 69th over.

    England were 4-140 at the time and the in-form batsman of the series on just three.

    Smith claimed the low catch immediately and, when umpire Marais Erasmus went upstairs, replays showed the fieldsman’s fingers were between ball and grass.

    However, third umpire Tony Hill inexplicably ruled not out, bringing Smith’s integrity into question.

    Stuart Broad whacked a ball to first slip at Trent Bridge and wasn’t given and now Bell defied the evidence of replays.

    He went on to make 74, before he threw his wicket away to ironically gift Smith his fourth wicket of the match in the 99th over.

    Root and Bell put on a punishing 153-run stand.

    Once the partnership reached 50, the pair smashed their next 100 from just 94 balls.

    England hammered 162 in the final session, but still no declaration.

    The 23-year-old had earlier combined for a patient 99-run stand with nightwatchman Tim Bresnan (38) and finished with an unbeaten 51-run stand with Jonny Bairstow (11no).

    Australia were left to rue a botched wicketkeeping effort from Brad Haddin on Friday that gave Root a life when he was on eight.

    © AAP 2017