Australia take control before rain halts charge

MICHAEL CLARKE became the first dismissal under floodlights in Test cricket in Britain last night but only after boosting Australia’s position in the Ashes opener in Cardiff.

Australia vice-captain Clarke gloved a catch down the leg-side during a short spell of play late in the evening session.

Stuart Broad’s first success of the innings denied Clarke a maiden Test hundred in England but his 83 and an unbeaten 54 from Marcus North meant Australia will resume the penultimate day on 479 for five, a lead of 44 runs.

A two-hour stoppage caused by a heavy shower was followed by only half of the scheduled dozen overs available from 6.15pm being sent down.

Umpires Aleem Dar and Billy Doctrove deemed the visibility of the red ball was not sufficiently fair shortly after Clarke’s departure.

“The ruling is that once the natural light is gone and the lights take over from that, I think they can offer the light,” said Clarke. “When I was out there the light was okay and I have no excuses for my dismissal. The lights generally around the world are pretty good and I’ve just found out it’s the first time they have used them here so mark me down for the first wicket.”

Clarke, one of the four Australians on this tour to have been defeated in 2005began with a positive contribution.

But he said: “It would have been special to get a hundred because for the team I would have liked to have been there at the end of the day’s play.

“We were in a good position and Marcus and I played pretty well while we were out there.

“More than the amount of runs, I was just disappointed to get out like that and put Brad Haddin under pressure for those couple of overs he had to come in. “You always would love a hundred, especially when you get to 80, but I was disappointed with the shot I played more than anything. Coming out under lights, we’ve played enough cricket under them and when there’s rain around the ball generally skids off the wicket a bit more. I probably should have ducked it or let it go.”

The wicket will no doubt deteriorate in the remaining two days and that has not discouraged England.

Fast bowler James Anderson, who claimed two of the three wickets to fall in a spell with the second new ball, said: “We have got a big session first thing in the morning which will probably decide whether we can win the game or not.

“We will have to work out how we can get those last five wickets pretty quickly — we certainly believe we can still win.”

Anderson terminated Simon Katich’s hundred with a full delivery which won a leg before decision and then had Michael Hussey caught behind cheaply.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting then chopped into his stumps off left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, after registering his 13th score of 150 in Test cricket.

Those dismissals came in a much-improved period for England compared to the start of Australia’s innings.

“We certainly didn’t hit our straps yesterday, whether it was nerves or not I don’t know, but we were pretty disappointed with the way we started,” said Anderson.

“Today we bowled much better, got more rhythm and asked more questions of the batsmen as well.

“From my point of view maybe I was a bit more relaxed out there.”

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