North piles on agony for England

LEEDS: Marcus North’s second century of this Ashes series ensured Australia maintained their iron grip on the fourth Test against England here today.

Australia, at tea on the second day, were bowled out for 445 — a lead of 343 — after England collapsed on Friday to 102 all out in their first innings. North was last man out for 110, holing out to give pace bowler Stuart Broad his Test-best figures of 6-91.

Left-hander North, out for 96 in the drawn third Test at Edgbaston, reached his third century in six Tests by sweeping off-spinner Graeme Swann for six in 193 balls, including 12 fours. Such was Australia’s command, as they looked to level the seried at 1-1, that even Stuart Clark drove Swann for six and later twice pulled Broad high over square leg for two sixes in as many balls.

Broad did though take five of the six wickets to fall in the second session after Australia resumed on their lunch score of 306-5. Mitchell Johnson, who helped North add 70, holed out to Ravi Bopara at deep mid-wicket and three balls later Peter Siddle was bowled for a duck to leave Australia 394-8. Broad eventually had the satisfaction of dismissing Clark but not before the tailender had made 32 off 22 balls featuring those three sixes.

Australia resumed on 196-4, a lead of 94, with Clarke 34 not out and North seven not out. North set the tone when, off Saturday’s first ball, he punched Anderson through the covers for four. Harmison saw his first ball pulled so far in front of square by Clarke the ball went for four to long-on.

England were failing to follow the example of Clark, who’d shown how to bowl on a fine pitch for batting on Friday by maintaining a probing line and length. Broad then became the third England bowler whose first ball on Saturday went for four when North clipped him off his legs.

Clarke, who made 136 in England’s second Test win at Lord’s and 103 at Edgbaston, fell in sight of a third hundred in as many Tests when he was LBW to Graham Onions for 93. He hit 13 fours off 138 balls.