MANCHESTER: Opener Chris Rogers fell short of his first Test century and Australia’s first of the Ashes on Thursday after the tourists had earlier been the victim of another umpiring controversy on day one of the third Test.
The Australians, 2-0 down in the five-match series, went to tea on 180 for three with captain Michael Clarke on 55 not out after Rogers was trapped lbw by a fullish ball from England spinner Graeme Swann for 84.
Replays showed Rogers was right to be given out, but Usman Khawaja’s dismissal before lunch was a major talking point.
He was adjudged to have been caught behind off Swann for one but reviewed umpire Tony Hill’s decision.
Third umpire Kumar Dharmasena sided with his colleague despite replays showing no obvious edge in the Test decision review system (DRS) dispute to afflict the series and Australia.
Shane Watson earlier got away with several loose shots through the slips, over gully and just short of point but was caught at slip by Alastair Cook off paceman Tim Bresnan for 19.
Rogers, obeying the message from on high to knuckle down and build an innings after repeated Australian carelessness this series, calmly compiled his highest Test score to silence doubters of his worth to the side.
The 35-year-old, selected because of his knowledge of English conditions having been a mainstay of the county scene, is playing in only his fourth Test for Australia and will be annoyed he did not go on and make a century his team badly need.
Clarke was impressive if not at his fluent best having been troubled by spectators above the pavilion sightscreen when taking on Swann, who had figures of two for 37.
Steve Smith was with him at tea on 20 after another minor DRS controversy when England reviewed a not-out lbw decision against Swann and Hawk-Eye said just less than half the ball would have hit leg stump, thus reverting to the umpire’s call.
The hosts wasted their second and final review on Smith later when DRS showed he had not edged James Anderson behind.
England, who will retain the Ashes at the revamped Manchester venue with a win or a draw, were cheered on by a packed crowd and a lone trumpeter but some pizzazz was missing.
Australia had lost the toss at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, when England batted first both times on their way to victory, and the relief on Clarke’s face was visible as the coin landed his way.
The tourists, who risk losing a seventh Test in a row and a third straight Ashes series, brought in David Warner at six after the aggressive left-hander returned from his banishment to the A squad as punishment for punching England’s Joe Root in a bar in June.
He replaced the ineffective Phil Hughes, while off-spinner Nathan Lyon came in for left-armer Ashton Agar and paceman Mitchell Starc replaced the injured James Pattinson.
England were unchanged after Kevin Pietersen passed a fitness Test on a calf strain.