Aust 3-72 at lunch in third Ashes Test

Michael Clarke continued his form slump as Australia stumbled to 3-72 at lunch on day one of the third Ashes Test.


Australia levelled the series at Lord’s, but the momentum generated from that 405-run victory shrivelled in the space of an hour at Edgbaston.

Clarke won the toss on Wednesday.

The skipper was marching to the middle after just eight overs, desperate to stop questions about a recent barren run but wary of a ball that was seaming and swinging.

Clarke lasted 15 minutes and 10 balls – long enough to score 10 and have a short slanging match with Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes that prompted umpire Aleem Dar to intervene.

But not long enough to halt recalled paceman Steve Finn’s impressive start to the clash.

Finn, who had not played a Test since being belted all over Trent Bridge in the 2013 Ashes, removed Clarke with a cracking yorker.

Clarke is yet to post a half-century for the Test side since returning from hamstring surgery on the recent tour of the West Indies, while managing two centuries in his past 26 Test innings.

However, Clarke wasn’t the only batsman to struggle on a surface with far more spice in it than Cardiff and Lord’s.

David Warner and Steve Smith were dismissed for two and seven respectively, the latter being Smith’s lowest score in the first innings of a Test since December 2013.

Warner was trapped on the back foot and rapped on the pads by Anderson.

The aggressive opener opted to review Chris Gaffaney’s lbw decision, but replays confirmed it was out.

Finn removed Smith in his first over, Alastair Cook grabbing a low catch at first slip.

Rain interrupted proceedings after one hour, welcome relief for a side that had collapsed to 3-34.

Chris Rogers, who was in doubt for the game due to an inner-ear issue that forced him to retire hurt at Lord’s, showed a ton of grit.

Rogers was 35 not out at the meal break alongside Adam Voges.

The 34-year-old, who suffered an alarming dizzy spell in the second Test as a result of an Anderson bouncer, was tested out with a bit of short stuff.

The leading run-scorer of the series looked reasonably comfortable in striking seven boundaries.

Ricky Ponting, calling the game for Sky Sports, was happy to see a more sporting pitch compared to the first two Tests.

“Well done to the groundsman,” Ponting said.

“It’s a good even contest.

“There’s runs to be made here – it’s not like a minefield. You just have to bat well.”

In the past six Tests at the venue, the team batting first has never won.