Clarke ton gives Aussies the edge

Australia

Australia enjoyed their most successful day, if not innings, of the entire Ashes series on day one of the third Test at Old Trafford, reaching stumps on 303 for three thanks to a Michael Clarke century.

Australia enjoyed their most successful day, if not innings, of the entire Ashes series on day one of the third Test at Old Trafford, reaching stumps on 303 for three thanks to a Michael Clarke century.

Clarke was part of an unbeaten 174-run stand with Steve Smith, with the skipper making 125 not out and SMith 70 not out. Earlier in the day, Chris Rogers had made 84, while the umpires also got their names in the spotlight.

Aussie skipper Clarke won the toss and chose to bat first, and Rogers did well with Shane Watson to survive the first hour without much drama. Watson was by far the more subdued partner, clearly trying to avoid a silly dismissal.

The slow pace of his knock seemed to bog him down though, and he eventually lost patience after facing 49 balls for just 19 runs. He tried to drive at a Tim Bresnan delivery, but some late swing caught the outside edge and Alastair Cook took the catch in the slips.

Meanwhile, Rogers moved on to his second half ton of the series and did so in stylish fashion. He also moved past 20,000 First Class runs in the process, and reached lunch on 67 not out.

The main drama of the morning was the dismissal of Usman Khawaja, for one off 19 balls. Graeme Swann spun the ball appreciably and the young batsman took a swing, and Matt Prior took the ball up by his shoulder. An appeal saw the umpire lift his finger.

Khawaja immediately sent it upstairs for Kumar Dharmasena to review, saying he hadn't touched it. Hot Spot and various replays seemed to show clear daylight between bat and ball, and an overturning of the decision was expected.

But it did not come, as Dharmasena chose to stick with the on-field decision, much to commentators, players, and everyone watching's surprise. This brought Clarke to the middle and he reached five not out by lunch.

The afternoon session saw 88 runs added to the score for just the one wicket, when Rogers found himself plumb in front of a Swann delivery. It hit him low down and close to the crease, and any thought of a review was soon dispelled.

Clarke then went on to make his 50 in 67 balls, with Smith at the other end. The younger partner survived a caught behind appeal off James Anderson, which the umpire said was not out. England reviewed, but despite an odd noise, nothing on Hot Spot showed evidence of an edge.

Clarke and Smith batted sedately before the tea break, with Smith reaching 20 off 46 balls, while Clarke's 55 came of 90 deliveries.

The evening session was all about the Aussies, as Alastair Cook could find nothing to break the stand. One chance though was an appeal for LBW against Smith by Stuart Broad, and it was plumb in front. But the umpire said not out, and England had no more reviews, thus denying Broad his 200th Test wicket.

The 300 arrived for the visitors just before stumps, the first time in seven innings that they managed to pass that mark, and thus their best innings in the series.

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson

Australia: Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Usman Khawaja, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, David Warner, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon

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