Australia in a world of hurt

2010-12-16 09:04
Ricky Ponting
England's seamers obliterated Australia's top order early in the third test in Perth on Thursday to leave the hosts reeling at 65 for four at lunch and buoy the tourists' hopes of sealing the Ashes before Christmas.

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Andrew Strauss, bidding to become the first English captain since Mike Gatting 24 years ago to bring the Ashes home, landed the first psychological blow by winning the toss and sending Australia in to bat on a green-topped pitch at the WACA.

The call proved a masterstroke as towering seamer Chris Tremlett celebrated his return to the test side by bowling Phillip Hughes for two with his sixth ball and removing vice captain Michael Clarke for four in his fourth over.

In between, James Anderson clinched the key wicket of captain Ricky Ponting for 12, while Steve Finn trapped Shane Watson lbw for 13 to leave the large English contingent in the packed crowd singing in ecstasy under blinding sunshine.

Steve Smith, on five, and Mike Hussey (28) were left to mount a fightback on a pitch likely to provide little respite for the Australians in the afternoon sessions.

The fiery morning spell recalled England's furious attack at Adelaide Oval that saw the hosts lose three wickets for two runs within three overs of their first innings of the second test.

After dismissing Australia cheaply, England then romped home to a crushing innings and 71-run victory to take a 1-0 lead in the five-test series.

Australia, subject to scathing criticism in all facets of their game in the wake of that defeat, needed their batsman to stand up in Perth after they failed to post competitive totals.

They had recalled 22-year-old Hughes to replace the injured Simon Katich and brought in 21-year-old Smith to replace the out-of-form Marcus North at number six, hoping that youthful exuberance might fire their flagging side.

Hughes's return to the Australia side lasted six balls, however, as Tremlett softened him up with a series of short-pitched deliveries then delivered a fuller ball that sneaked through the gate and crashed into his stumps.

Ponting, under pressure to score runs after failing twice in the second test, then nicked a James Anderson delivery to the slips shortly after where Paul Collingwood made a superb one-handed catch, leaping high to his right to leave Australia 17 for two in the fifth over.

Tremlett, who replaced the injured Stuart Broad in the lineup, removed Clarke for four, enticing the 29-year-old to feather a catch to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Watson, who had survived a caught-behind dismissal on his sixth ball from Anderson on review, had his second review turned down when trapped by a yorker from Finn that cannoned into the opener's toe.

The wicket left Australia mired in deep trouble at 36 for four shortly after the drinks break.

Hussey, who has been forced into the saviour role throughout the series, attacked Finn with abandon, and rode his luck to pull the young quick for six with a top edge that flew over the keeper's head.

He then drove a full toss to the boundary on Finn's next ball in a rare act of defiance by the Australian batsmen.


PJ Hughes, SR Watson, RT Ponting (capt), MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, BJ Haddin (wk), SPD Smith, MG Johnson, RJ Harris, PM Siddle, BW Hilfenhaus

England: AJ Strauss (capt), AN Cook, IJL Trott, KP Pietersen, PD Collingwood, IR Bell, MJ Prior (wk), GP Swann, JM Anderson, ST Finn, CT Tremlett


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