Australia put themselves in a winning position by the end of the second day’s play at Headingley by first capturing a 343-run lead over England, and then breaking the back of the English top-order with five second-innings wickets.
Resuming at their overnight score of 196/4, the overnight pair of Michael Clarke and Marcus North continued with their run-scoring and in the process began to increase the lead to difficult proportions. Clark, who had already got to two centuries in the series, got to his half century and looked good to smash his third ton of the series, while North continued playing second fiddle to Clarke.
It was after Clarke departed for 93, falling woefully short of his century – lbw to a swinging ball from Graham Onions – that North took over and started attacking the bowling. His half century had come earlier, and he went on to get to his century too, and despite the fall of wickets at the other end, there was no letting for the hosts. >
Stuart Broad managed to pierce through the lower order, but not before Mitchell Johnson had hit a 27 and Stuart Clark celebrated his return to international cricket with a 22-ball 32! Broad ended with 6/91, but the Aussies got to 445 all out; a whopping lead of 343 runs in the bargain. >
The only hope that England had of saving the game, or making a match out of it was to bat out a couple of days and get to 600. And at one stage it did look like the opening duo of Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook had taken them to safety for at least the day, but after they had added 58, Strauss departed to Ben Hilfenhaus. This set the cat amongst the pigeons, as there was a procession after that; Ravi Bopara falling next ball, given out wrongly to an inside edge, Ian Bell edging Johnson to the slips, Paul Collingwood lbw to Johnson again, and then the left handed bowler getting back to claim Cook! From a healthy 58/0, the English had collapsed to 78/5 and with no hopes of saving the game!
Matt Prior could have easily become the sixth victim of the day, but North dropped a sitter and the hosts ended the day at 82/5. With more than 260 runs to save the innings defeat, it seems to be only a matter of time before the Aussies wrap up the tail and equal the series 1-1.