Australia’s middle-order impressed to take their side into a position of strength while England cannot afford to simply shut-up shop as they try to bat out for a draw on day five, says Nasser Hussain.
I was hugely impressed with Australia’s batting today. We all knew about Steve Smith and expected him to bat long, especially in these conditions with the ball not moving around too much. But it has spun and for the Australian batsmen to dig deep the way they have, Matthew Wade in particular, has been very impressive.
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Before the game that middle-order was seen as an area for England to attack and apply pressure on Australia, we knew David Warner and Smith were very fine players but the way that middle-order has played has been exceptional.
It’s not just the runs they got, they got those runs very quickly which has given them time to try and bowl England out again so tomorrow could be a very interesting day. Nathan Lyon on a pitch that is spinning, if you look at the ball Moeen Ali bowled to get Tim Paine out, it is spinning for both right and left-handers.
England will have to work hard. It’s not doing much for the seamers and that’s one thing they will be thinking, ‘let’s wait and see what that middle-order is like on a pitch that does something’ but from being 122-8 in their first innings there has been a lot of character and fight from Australia.
You can see why England wanted to play with last year’s Dukes ball which moved sideways and gave them some lateral movement, otherwise it becomes like the conditions you see in Australia with the Kookaburra ball where it doesn’t move around and you need extra pace.
The last two Ashes tours Down Under it’s been 4-0 and 5-0 for that reason, it’s almost like a different game when it’s moving and when it’s not, especially against Australia. Obviously for England, what they will like is the fact that Jofra Archer will come in for the next game and he will provide them with extra pace so they’re not a one-dimensional attack.
But I’ve got to say Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes really kept going fantastically well, one bowler down to put in the efforts they have has been brilliant. Now it is over to the batsmen.
England have got to bat out the day tomorrow and they have got to get the balance right. The thing Nathan Lyon would love is people just standing there pushing and prodding, they have still got to be attacking and play their shots, rotate and be busy.
You can’t just go into your shell but there is a fine line between that and being reckless. The problem for England is that they have a couple of players who are out of nick in Jonny Bairstow and Ali so they are vulnerable but to the seamers there is not a lot in that pitch, it is really flat to the seamers.