Shane Watson’s third Test century took Australia to a total of 183 for three at tea on Day One of the fifth Ashes 2013 Test at The Oval. He remained unbeaten on 121 at the interval along with Steven Smith unbeaten on 15.
The post-lunch session began slowly as England bowled two maiden overs immediately. Swann then got the ball to spin and bounce as Chris Rogers edged it to Jonathan Trott at first slip, who took a low catch. Michael Clarke was the new batsman and he looked very uncomfortable against Stuart Broad. One particular delivery bounced extra from a short of a length and Clarke got his gloves to it. The ball went in the air and just missed the stumps on its way down.
Watson finally hit the first four of the session in the 37th over. His cover drive off Broad took him into the nineties. Broad immediately bowled a sharp bouncer and it surprised Watson and struck him just behind the left ear. It took a little while for Watson to get back up after receiving some treatment. Clarke was still not getting to grips with Broad’s bowling and fended off another short delivery which just fell away from the fielder at bat-pad.
Anderson was brought back for his second spell in the 41st over and he ended Clarke’s misery in the 43rd over. The ball was pitched at a good length and it came back sharply to strike the pads en route to hit the stumps. Watson finally got to his century with a single on the off-side. This was his third century in 46 Test matches. It was also his first in an Ashes series. The century came after 25-Test barren run.
In the 47th over, captain Alastair Cook dropped Watson off Anderson’s bowling. The ball bounced a little extra and took a thick outside edge only for Cook to drop a good chance at wide first slip low to his right. To rub salt into the wounds, Steven Smith came down the track and sliced a lofted drive off Swann, but the ball sailed over the boundary at wide long-off.
So after beginning the session at 112 for one, Australia ended it at 183 for three. England definitely got back into the match with some controlled bowling. But the most important aspect was that Cook had to use his three experienced bowlers — Anderson, Broad, Swann — to halt Australia’s charge. Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan were not used much during the session and it would be interesting to see how they will be used after tea.
Australia 183 for 3 (Shane Watson 121*, Steven Smith 15*; James Anderson 2 for 21) vs England.
(Shrikant Shankarpreviously worked with Mobile ESPN, where he did audio commentary for many matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20. He has also written many articles involving other sports for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)