England extend lead to 270

Manchester, August 14:

Andrew Strauss scored an unbeaten 57 on Sunday as England built a 270-run lead with four sessions remaining in the third Ashes Test against Australia. Fast bowler Simon Jones took three wickets in 29 balls in a career-best 6-53 to bowl Australia out for 302 earlier on the fourth morning in reply to England’s 444. England opened its second innings aggressively, with Marcus Trescothick (41) stroking six boundaries before he played onto his stumps against Glenn McGrath with the total at 64. Skipper Michael Vaughan, whose 166 in the first innings remains the only hundred of the series so far, was out for 14 when he paddled Brett Lee around to fine leg, where substitute fielder Brad Hodge took a well-judged catch just inside the boundary. Strauss, who had an escape on one when his edge off Lee sailed at waist height between Warne and Ricky Ponting at first and second slip, went on to post his first Test 50 against Australia. His 93-ball innings contained a six and six boundaries. Ian Bell was not out on 8 at the interval.

With the five-match series tied at 1-1, the Old Trafford match is delicately poised. The Australians are trying to contain England. The English need to score quick runs and increase their buffer deep into the 300s, with thoughts of a declaration before stumps Sunday to have more than a day to push for a win. England’s 231-3 against the West Indies last season is the record for a winning fourth-innings chase at Old Trafford. Jones’ haul here doubled his wickets total for the series to 12, and enhanced his reputation as a partnership breaker. He dismissed Warne for 90 with his second ball of the day, ending the 86-run eighth-wicket stand with Jason Gillespie that saved Australia from the follow-on, then had Brett Lee (1) caught at slip for his second five-wicket haul in Tests. Gillespie faced 108 balls before he pulled Jones for six in the 85th over, prompting England to take the new ball. Jones struck three deliveries later, trapping Gillespie (26) lbw as Australia’s last three wickets fell for 15 runs.

Warne and Gillespie started their partnership at 201 for seven on Friday and batted through 14 overs on a rain-interrupted third day to lift Australia to 264. Warne, resuming on Sunday on 78, cut Jones past point for four to move to 90 and then pulled the Welsh paceman around to Ashley Giles and was caught in the outfield. His innings contained a six and 11 boundaries and was the second-highest score by an Australian in this series, behind Michael Clarke’s 91 at Lord’s. The 35-year-old legspinner has scored more Test runs (2,680) without scoring a hundred than any international cricketer. His highest score was 99 against New Zealand at Perth in 2001.