Brisbane - David Warner and Michael Clarke scored dominant centuries to put
Australia firmly in control of the first Ashes test on Saturday and
leave England needing an unlikely 537 for victory at the end of day
three at the Gabba.
The hosts declared at 401 for seven an hour
before stumps and compounded their advantage by removing Michael
Carberry and Jonathan Trott cheaply to leave England clinging on at 24
England would need to better the best ever fourth innings
run chase in test cricket by 143 runs to get the 561 runs for victory
but more realistically will look to dig in and hope the rainstorms
forecast for Brisbane materialise.
Barring a 15-minute rain delay
before lunch, the weather failed England on Saturday and the day instead
belonged to belligerent opener Warner and his cultured captain.
in the driving seat when their bowlers dismissed the tourists for 136
at the Gabba on Friday, the pair gleefully grasped the controls and
raced away from England in a 158-run partnership for the third wicket.
hammered 124 off 154 balls for his fourth test century and first
against England, while Clarke's 113 came off 130 balls for the 25th
hundred of his career and sixth in the Ashes.
Such days have been
rare in a miserable year for Australia, who failed to win a single test
in back-to-back series defeats in India and England, and the packed
house at the Gabba revelled in the summer sunshine.
resumed on 65 without loss but Chris Rogers was gone, caught at point
from Stuart Broad's first delivery, before Warner had the five runs he
needed for his half century.
That was clearly never the extent of
Warner's ambition, though, and with Clarke having weathered an early
storm of short bowling and looking settled at the other end, he moved
inexorably towards the first century of the match.
He had a
nervous moment in the last over before lunch when England referred a
failed appeal for leg before wicket to the TV umpire, but the replay
showed Graeme Swann's delivery missed his front pad and clattered into
There were another nervous few moments on 99 before
Warner found a gap in the covers for two runs off the bowling of Joe
Root, the England player he infamously punched in a Birmingham bar
before the first Ashes series of the year.
continued in the same vein after passing the milestone but three balls
after smashing Broad for his only six over the bowler's head, he nicked
behind and the Englishman had his revenge.
passed 1,000 runs at the Gabba and pushed his team's lead past 400 with a
four off Broad before punching the ball through the onside for a couple
of runs to claim his fifth century at the ground.
Swann ended up with figures of 2-135 after taking some serious
punishment from Warner and Clark, including 16 runs in one miserable
He did get a measure of retribution, though, by tempting
Clarke into stepping out only to miss the line for an ignominious
dismissal the Australia skipper's innings did not deserve.
also got the wickets of opener Chris Rogers (16), Shane Watson (6) and
Steve Smith (0) cheaply but debutant George Bailey joined in the run
spree with two sixes in his 34.
Brad Haddin, who made 94 in the
first innings in his 50th test match, inflated the score with a 54-ball
53 and Mitchell Johnson pitched in with an unbeaten 39 as even England's
vaunted fielding lost its way.
While Carberry was unfortunate to
guide a Ryan Harris delivery between his own legs and onto the stumps
for a duck, Trott's decision to attack the short ball looked almost
suicidal and resulted in him holing out in the deep for nine.
Pietersen, who almost ran Alastair Cook out on the first ball he faced,
had reached three not out at the close of play with his captain set to
resume on 11.