England’s Yorkshire bowler Tim Bresnan admits patience will be key as his side attempt to break down Australia’s new-found resilience at Old Trafford today.
The tourists’ top-order batsmen finally broke out of their slump on day one of the third Test yesterday, captain Michael Clarke’s unbeaten century adding to Chris Rogers’ innings of 84 to take them to 303 for three at stumps.
With an unbeaten 125, Clarke put on 174 with Steve Smith who made 70 not out as conditions led to relatively straightforward batting conditions.
Bresnan said: “It’s always tough when the wicket plays like that and the sun’s out but the Aussies played really well.
“As soon as the ball got a bit old, got softer, it stopped swinging then the sun came out.
“There’s not much out there, we tried to keep (the ball) fresh and new as long as possible but even though the outfield is quite lush, reverse (swing) was difficult.
“You’ve got to be very patient and keep plugging away, we’ve gone past the edge a few times.
“That’s just how the game goes, in the morning we could go past the edge a couple of times and they might nick it.”
Captain Clarke’s century helped ensure yet more Decision Review System controversy was overshadowed.
There was barely a blip in Clarke’s 169-ball hundred, punctuated by trademark sweet timing and canny placement as well as expert footwork against Graeme Swann - on a pitch already offering the off-spinner conspicuous assistance - and fine judgement of when to leave the seamers.
But Clarke arrived at the crease amid more confusion over the role of the third umpire.
Usman Khawaja was given the red light by TV official Kumar Dharmasena despite replays, and Hotspot, showing no sign he had edged behind off Swann.
On-field umpire Tony Hill had raised the finger, despite mostly half-hearted appeals, and Dharmasena apparently saw no evidence to overturn that ruling.
It prompted widespread condemnation, with even Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeting his disapproval, while former leg-spinner Shane Warne branded it “ridiculous and shocking”.
But that decision was a rare low point on an otherwise fine day for the Aussies whose Rogers had initially put on an opening stand of 76 with Watson after Clarke won his first toss of the series.
Rogers dug in with a string of resounding boundaries for good measure in his partnership with Watson, who edged a good delivery from first-change Bresnan to slip.
By then, Rogers was past his 50 at better than a run a ball, with three fours in one over as Anderson began his second spell from the Statham end.
The left-hander remained on course for a maiden Test century until he became Swann’s second victim, his concentration compromised perhaps by a delay thanks to movement behind the arm before he was lbw aiming to leg.
That success, less than halfway through the day, was to be England’s last as Clarke and Smith took over for the remaining 53 overs.
They quickly assessed that they could not allow Swann to dictate on a surface already so favourable to him - and that good sense, and attendant skill, paid off.