England 251 & 5/251 (67ov, Stokes 72*/96b/12x4, Bell 60/93b/1x6 7x4, Pietersen 45/57b/1x6 7x4) need 253 runs with 5 wkts in hand to beat Australia 385 & 6/369 dec (87 ov, Warner 112, Watson 103/108b/5x6 11x4, Rogers 54): T3/5 D4/5 at WACA, Perth.
Ben Stokes, whose batting in England's second innings has shown more maturity and resolution than his top order teammates, is really all that is standing in the way of another England drubbing which will surrender the Ashes to Australia.
The morning session was all Australia's. First they added 134 from 17 overs. Shane Watson, in limited overs mode, belted the England attack to complete a quickfire century (and silenced those who were concerned about his apparent inability to notch those numbers). He virtually threw away his wicket - Ian Bell dropping a not too difficult skied chance redeemed on the scoreboard (though not in spectators' minds) by bowler Tom Bresnan effecting a run out. Then, to complete England's discombobulation, George Bailey, another whose place in the Australian Test team had been questioned by some, whacked 39*/30b/3x3 3x4, including 28 from an already out of sorts Jimmy Anderson before Michael Clarke declared, leaving England to bat for five and a bit sessions or score 500+.
Just when it looked as if the situation couldn't get any worse Ryan Harris bowled Alistair Cook with the first ball of England's innings. Michael Carberry and Joe Root hung on until lunch and for a time thereafter but neither mastered the tight Australian attack, each building a foundation but getting out for 31 and 19 respectively.
At 3/76 Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell began what needed to be at least a double century partnership if England were to survive. They hadn't put on 50 before Pietersen let himself go and was well caught in the deep by Harris off Nathan Lyon. Bell and Stokes added 99 before Bell fell foul of the DRS - Snicko indicated an edge to the keeper. Stokes and Matt Prior saw out a day where England's deficiencies were once again exposed by an Australian eleven which has continued to play consistently above the standard I expected from them before the start of the series.
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