What a difference a day makes! Day 3 started with Australia on top and England searching for a way to get back into the game. Thanks to a collapse from Australia’s batters, a century from Ian Bell and an injury to Shane Watson Australia now finds itself on the back foot and searching for the final 5 wickets that will get them back into the game. The situation that presented before Day 3 has been completely reversed on Day 4 as it is now England who will be looking to post a total and Australia looking to get to the crease quickly.
Here are my keys to winning day 4:
1. Be batting before lunch: Australia need wickets early on Day 4 to stay in the game just like England did on Day 3. Any score of over 270 will be very difficult to chase down on this wicket and if England are still batting deep into the second hour of the first session that is the likely target they will be setting Australia.
2. Shane Watson MUST bat: The injury to Shane Watson is not a good thing for Australia’s batting order and the prospects of winning the game if he is unable to bat in the second innings. The top six looked more solid with Watson in the six slot and when he came to the wicket at 4 for 70 odd on Day 2 of the test match his partnership with Chris Rogers put Australia back in the game. If Watson is unable to bat then the odds will be stacked heavily in England’s favour.
3. Runs from the Number 3: So far Australia has been unable to extract any runs of note of its number 3 batter and, one suspects, any run chase at Chester-le-Street will rely heavily on Usman Khawaja scoring some runs. Being one out and then two out will not be a good start to Australia’s run chase with the counter balance being that the longer he is in the more likely it will be that Australia chew a long way into any victory target.
1. Bat, bat and then bat some more: Every run that pushes England’s lead over 250 will be a nail in the coffin of Australia’s aspirations in this test match and the longer they bat the less likely Australia is to win the game. So really there is one key to winning the day for England and that is to bat for as long as possible.
2. If England do bowl … go after the Myth: For better or worse, any run chase by Australia of any number of runs over 250 will hinge on the start that Australia gets. Davey “the Myth” Warner looked out of sorts in the first innings here and was found out by an inswinger from Stuart Broad. An early excision of Warner in Australia’s innings will put the remainder of the batting line up back on their respective heals.
3. Be patient:It is trite to say but there is more to lose for England in this test match than there is for Australia. That is because no one expected Australia to win the game and the Urn is to remain in England regardless of the result BUT a win for Australia will get it on a roll leading into the next round of matches starting in Australia in November. Patience from England will place pressure on the unexperienced members of the Australia side which could see them make mistakes in their keenness to push for a victory.
I feel I say this phrase every time I write a preview and, even though I undoubtedly do, I am going to say it again here: it will be another fascinating night of cricket tonight with both sides going hard to push for a victory. The first hour will be critical for both sides and will edge of the seat viewing for all fans.