Melbourne - England have taken a significant stride toward retaining the Ashes by bowling out Australia for a meager 98 runs in their first innings on Sunday's opening day of the fourth test.
At the close of play England were 157 for 0 after winning the toss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Andrew Strauss was on 64 with Alastair Cook on 80.
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Needing to avoid defeat to have a hope of reclaiming the Ashes, Australia's batting order collapsed after being sent in on a seaming Melbourne Cricket Ground wicket, with James Anderson and Chris Tremlett each taking four wickets.
It was Australia's lowest ever score against England at the MCG, with the previous worst being 104 dating back to the first ever test, played in 1877.
It was also the second time Australia had been bowled out for less than 100 in this calendar year; its lowest score on Australian soil since 1984; its lowest at the MCG since 1981; its lowest against England since 1968; and lowest against England in Australia since 1936.
Australia was dismissed inside 43 overs, with England wicketkeeper Matt Prior taking six catches as every Australian batsman was out caught behind the wicket, many playing at deliveries that should have been left alone.
Michael Clarke ground out 20 to be the highest scorer for Australia, which must hope the pitch retains enough movement to enable the hosts to bowl out England cheaply.
Andrew Strauss made the correct decision in winning the toss and sending Australia in on a grey morning in Melbourne. Australia were all bowled out before tea, even including a rain delay, after a very tentative batting display on a greenish pitch.
England's performance with the ball was excellent, as they bowled very few bad deliveries, allowing Strauss to set an attacking field on the helpful surface.
Tremlett's height and seam movement were devastating early on in the first session. Then Anderson's swing bowling in the middle session was too good for an Australian line up that kept prodding or wafting at balls outside off stump. Graeme Swann was only needed for two overs in the innings.
By mid-afternoon Cricket Australia had announced a crowd of only 82982, well below the expected 91,000 that was required to set a new recorded high for a test crowd.
Australia opener Shane Watson was dropped twice by England in the first 13 balls. Watson did soon depart as Tremlett's lifter spooned off a glove to Kevin Pietersen at gully.
Phil Hughes went out for the third time in the series to a full ball, lashing a loose drive of a Bresnan delivery straight to Pietersen.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting, playing with a broken left little finger suffered in the second test, made 10 off 38 balls before being undone by a superb Tremlett leg-cutter that squared up the skipper and an edge flew to the slips where it was well taken by Graeme Swann.
That reduced the hosts to 37-3 and brought to the crease Mike Hussey, who had batted Australia out of trouble in both the opening two tests.
However he could not do so this time. Anderson came on for a second spell and had Hussey caught behind by Prior for 8. Only one more ball was bowled before a sudden rain shower arrived and prompted lunch to be called a few minutes early.
In the opening two tests, Australia had batted its way out of early trouble, but there was no such rescue from the middle and lower order this time, with a procession of wickets in the second session.
All went in worryingly similar fashion, often playing away from their pads to seaming deliveries outside off stump, including Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson, who, along with Hussey and Watson had been the only in-form batsmen in the team.
Australia named an unchanged side for this test, sticking with four paceman and releasing spinner Michael Beer for Sheffield Shield duty. The decision would have looked better had Australia won the toss and got first bowl on a two-paced green wicket, but instead it must bowl last without a spinner to exploit a dry pitch.
Bresnan replaced Steven Finn, who was rested despite being the leading wicket-taker in the series with 14 wickets. He was expensive in Perth, while Bresnan is a better batsman and should strenghten an England batting line up which looked rather shallow at the WACA.
Scoreboard at the close on the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday:
Australia 1st innings:
S. Watson c Pietersen b Tremlett 5
P. Hughes c Pietersen b Bresnan 16
R. Ponting c Swann b Tremlett 10
M. Clarke c Prior b Anderson 20
M. Hussey c Prior b Anderson 8
S. Smith c Prior b Anderson 6
B. Haddin c Strauss b Bresnan 5
M. Johnson c Prior b Anderson 0
R. Harris not out 10
P. Siddle c Prior b Tremlett 11
B. Hilfenhaus c Prior b Tremlett 0
Extras (lb2, nb5) 7
Total (all out, 42.5 overs) 98
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Watson), 2-37 (Hughes), 3-37 (Ponting), 4-58 (Hussey), 5-66 (Smith), 6-77 (Clarke), 7-77 (Haddin), 8-77 (Johnson), 9-92 (Siddle), 10-98 (Hilfenhaus)
Bowling: Anderson 16-4-44-4, Tremlett 11.5-5-26-4 (5nb), Bresnan 13-6-25-2, Swann 2-1-1-0.
England 1st innings:
A. Strauss not out 64
A. Cook not out 80
Extras (b10, lb1, nb2) 13
Total (0 wkt, 47 overs) 157
To bat: J. Trott, K. Pietersen, P. Collingwood, I. Bell, M. Prior, G. Swann, T. Bresnan, C. Tremlett, J. Anderson
Bowling: Hilfenhaus 9-3-26-0, Harris 10-3-30-0, Johnson 7-0-42-0 (1w 1nb), Siddle 10-4-13-0 (1nb), Watson 5-1-14-0, Smith 6-1-22-0
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Tony Hill (NZL)
TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)