Ashes Report: Moeen’s all-round day see England ahead despite Rogers

Moeen Ali scored 77 important runs, grabbed two wickets as England kept their noses ahead on day two of the 1st Ashes Test in Cardiff.

England were 430 all out after Ali’s late burst and Australia closed on 246 for five with Chris Rogers falling five runs short of a well deserved hundred.

While one journalist declared that Ali is the finest number 8 in the world game and newspapers claimed he is anything from an “all-round God” to an “Ashes hero” the jury has yet to return its verdict on his claims to be a frontline Test spinner.

Ali too the wickets of world number one ranked batsman Steve Smith (33) and held a sharp return catch off Aussie skipper Michael Clarke (38) to end the day with figures of 2 for 67. While there is no doubting the pedigree of his victims and his quality as a batting number 8, both wickets were assisted by Australia’s desire to dent his confidence early and attack him. All that can be said so far is that he has stood up to the challenge and there is a long way to go.

With Ian Bell woefully out of form it was suggested on Twitter that Ali could bat at number 5 in England’s order with Joe Root rising to 4. That would allow the inclusion of Adil Rashid and maintain a balanced XI.

England captain Alastair Cook was in good tactical form as he rang the changes and kept ahead of the game with inventive field placings, but a Clarke edge that bounced just in front of him at slip will have him singing falsetto for a couple of days. In a very typical show of a cricket teams togetherness the rest of the England team, led by Cook’s vice-captain Root found his discomfort highly amusing.

Chris Roger’s 95, which included 11 fours and a top edged six off the impressive Mark Wood, sees him join an querky list of five players to have reached fifty in seven consecutive innings. The other four are Everton Weekes, Andy Flower, Shiv Chanderpaul and Kumar Sangakarra, but Rogers is the only batsman whose sequence does not include a century.

Wood, on Ashes debut, bowled with discipline and took the wicket of Rogers as the left-handed opener flashed a backfoot drive at a ball that was too close to him and edged behind.

Jimmy Anderson got rid of David Warner (13) who was held by a sharp two-handed catch at first slip by Cook. Steve Smith never looked comfortable, other than in one over when he took a liking to Ali, and prodded an ugly leading edge to Cook at short mid-on as he lost balance.

Stuart Broad outbowled Anderson with the new ball, but is yet to realise that he cannot demand a referral every time the ball hits the batsman’s pad. He remains wicketless and must test Cook’s patience.

Clark drilled a drive straight back to Ali and Adam Voges miscued a drive off Ben Stokes to Anderson at extra-cover.

Australia will resume on day three 166 runs adrift with Shane Watson on 29 and Nathan Lyon on 6. Yes, the Aussies used a nightwatchman. Times are a changing.

Earlier Broad just about withstood a barrage of short stuff from the wicketless Mitchell Johnson before falling to the spin of Lyon. One short ball had him jumping like a drunk frog and the gloved ball snaffled by Voges at short-leg, but replays showed the ball had squeezed through the fielder’s fingers and touched the floor. It’s the perfect example of technology working to the correct conclusion. The fielder could not have known he’d grounded the ball and neither could the umpires.

Ali was finally the victim of Mitchell Starc (5-114) as he edged a drive to Watson at slip and Anderson aimed a hoik all around a straight one from Starc.

There is a lot of cricket left in this Test, but England would have snapped your hand off for this position on Wednesday morning. The Australians will not want to be chasing 300-plus as the pitch continues to deteriorate towards day five.

While Ali has enjoyed a good Test match so far, it could become great by Sunday of he can spin his way to an England victory. That result would set up a thrilling series.

James Buttler

James Buttler

James has been working as a cricket journalist and broadcaster since 2006.
As the editor of Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author and a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications.
He's unsurprisingly a complete cricket badger!
James Buttler

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