The sight of an Ian Bell century has become nauseatingly repetitive this summer if your are an Australian fan but England would be pleased as a punch going into the fourth day of the Chester-le-Street Test match. We’ll have live scores and commentary from 8.00pm AEST.
Bell came in to bat with the English side reeling at 3/49 and Ryan Harris breathing fire but his calm demeanour and aggressive run-scoring proved to be a heady cocktail that Australia failed to counter.
By the time the stumps were draw, England had lost a couple more wickets but gotten their lead up to more than 200. And with Bell still at the crease, the final Australian target could get to unmanageable proportions for Australia.
Of course, what they will hope for is for the English innings to go the same way as their own at the start of the third day’s play.
Australia resumed at 5/222 and crashed to 270 all out, despite the presence of century-scorer Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin at the crease.
Graeme Swann struck twice to remove both these overnight batsmen and then the new ball took care of the rest of the tail.
From what looked like an assured lead of around 100, Australia had to be content with only 32 runs in front.
However they fought back well through Ryan Harris, who continued his good form and sent back the English top three.
Joe Root was bowled off a jaffa, Alastair Cook swished one outside the off stump to be caught behind while Jonathon Trott fell to the ‘leg-side trap’ – all off the bowling of Harris.
Kevin Pietersen’s 44 and Jonny Bairstow’s 28 may not be the really big knocks they would have wanted but helped add a total of 185 runs following the early wickets.
By stumps, England had done well to take a commanding second innings lead and unless they fall in a heap, Australia are staring at a biggish score.
As has been on show in this Test so far, batting isn’t the easiest and there are signs that Graeme Swann could reap a lot of benefit from the pitch on the fourth and the fifth day.
In that case, anything about 250 will be a tough target to chase for Australia.
That said, the pitch at Trent Bridge was a more difficult one and Australia got themselves to almost 300 in the fourth innings. That should give them some confidence going into their final essay later on the fourth day.
The game’s in favour of England at the moment but only just. Can Australia reclaim it back?
Follow the live score and blog of the third day’s play of the fourth Test from 8 pm AEST. You can join me for this live blog and post your comments below.