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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Ashes Test, another Australian collapse: T3D1

England 0/29 (12 ov) trail Australia 268 (76ov, M Johnson 62, M Hussey 61, B Haddin 53) by 239 runs on 1st innings: T3/5 D1/5 at WACA Ground, Perth.

The Third Test began in much the same way as the Second, with an Australian batting collapse against tenacious bowling supported by high quality fielding, followed by a revival of sorts, though not enough to deny England the upper hand at stumps.

But there were some significant differences, notably (1) Andrew Strauss won the toss (2) he sent Australia in. and (3) Australia selected four specialist quick bowlers. Obviously both captains (Ricky Ponting said that he'd have done the same to England if he'd won) felt that, unlike Adelaide, the wicket favoured the bowlers.

As it did, though a generous measure of assistance from several upper order Australian batsmen including the out-of-sorts captain and vice captain contributed to a shaky 5/69 shortly after lunch as the England attack, with Tim Tremlett stepping effectively into the role of the injured Stuart Broad, kept things on a pretty tight leash.

Fortunately for Australia Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin yet again staunched the bleeding (a little) as the pitch eased under the Perth sun, adding 68 for the 6th wkt before Hussey fell (via review of the umpire's not out decision) for a combative yet, because he didn't go on with it, disappointing 61/139b (1x6, 9x4). Haddin went on to make 53/80b (1x6, 6x4), some of it with Mitchell Johnson whose 62/93b (1x6, 8x4)
showed a welcome return to batting form, while Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus biffed some late runs which, welcome as they were, couldn't conceal that Australia's performance, to return to the comparisons with the second Test, put England well on the road to victory.

This impression was not dispelled during England's12 overs at the crease late in the day when Strauss and Alistair Cook batted more or less comfortably (apart from a sharp chance offered by the captain) against some honest Australian pace bowling.

Where the next 10, let alone 20, wickets will come from is hard to tell. There are other issues, such as Ponting's form. which will also be discussed at great length in the coming days.


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