Ashes 2013-14: England terrorised by Mitchell Johnson as Alastair Cook's side collapse

England go from 82-2 to 136 all out as Australia turn up the pressure at the Gabba to lead by 224 runs

Brisbane

On a cloying, compelling afternoon Australia revealed their grand design for the Ashes. It is based on one of the oldest, most effective and terrorising weapons in the game: the bouncer.

When propelled at high pace as inevitably it was on the second day of the First Test, it intimidates batsmen so that it disturbs their mind and erodes their soul. Michael Clarke, Australia’s captain, will know precisely how England felt as he urged his bowlers to turn up the gas.

He had been brutally exposed himself in his side’s first innings, made to look a nincompoop. It was not retribution he sought necessarily, he has simply come to recognise the menace. Welcome to Bodyline, gentlemen.

Was that Douglas Jardine looking down through the harsh glare of a Queensland day and smiling, fondly remembering perhaps his legacy to the world left 81 years ago when England launched their own assault? And was that Pelham Warner, his manager, grimacing at the prospect of it all over again? It would be a travesty if every match was based on this but amid the ferocity there was something beautiful about it.

Not all of England’s batsmen fell to the bouncer or the short ball on a rapid, lively pitch but they all realised with grim certainty that another one was coming along soon. Mitchell Johnson, who had talked the talk before the series, walked the walk in a thrilling exhibition of irresistible, hostile, potent and rapid bowling.

He was supported importantly by the exemplary Ryan Harris, who was also unafraid to give his opponents the chance to smell leather. The important intervention of the off-spinner, Nathan Lyon, himself assisted by bounce, merely compounded England’s misery.

Brad Haddin (left) celebrates after catching Jonathan Trott Brad Haddin (left) celebrates after catching Jonathan Trott

It all went horribly wrong in that second session of play, the period of the day known to Australians as the arvo. Johnson’s drooping moustache made him look as fearsome as Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican revolutionary who gave his name to the facial growth. He loped in and let it go as Emiliano did to government forces.

England lost six wickets for 39 runs in 25 overs but six of them went down for nine in 13.3 tortured overs. Three times before, England had suffered comparable collapses, the last in Melbourne in 1990 when they went from 147-4 to 150 all out when their nemesis was another mercurial left arm fast bowler called Bruce Reid.

If the bowling was impressive it was supported by some cunning captaincy by Clarke. He changed his bowlers often, in Johnson’s case he switched them from one end to another. He suggested a different line of attack from over and round the wicket, crucially he sensed when the opponents were ready to crumble.

There was, as on the first day of a series which threatens now to be full of fire and brimstone, a key moment. It arrived in the last over of the first session, before the arvo began.

Australia had been bowled out for 295 and England would have been feeling pretty pleased with life. They lost Alastair Cook, their captain, much earlier, about a day earlier, than they would have liked when he edged a ball from Harris which lifted and moved away outside off stump.

In came Jonathan Trott, out came the bumper. Trott could not settle in the crease, Johnson was moving him around it with a series of well directed balls aimed at the head. Perhaps he was unlucky when he nicked one of these aimed down the leg side but it was a plan perfectly hatched and executed as the batsman moved across his crease yet again. Trott needs to seek urgent counsel from someone because this sort of fallibility can terminate careers. Like Clarke the day before it was almost sad to see a player of such high accomplishment treated in this manner.

For a brief passage before the flames began spitting from Johnson’s mouth, Kevin Pietersen, in his 100 Test, flirted with the idea of doing something special for the occasion. But he was too carried away with imposing himself and clipped a ball from Harris to mid-wicket. That made England 82 for 3 and it was to become a whole lot worse.

The tourist’s top scorer was Michael Carberry, a man playing only his second Test at the age of 33, nearly four years after the first. He had provided a minor master class in the art of leaving the ball and he ignored most of the stuff that was pitched up outside off, of which there was not much, and the short-pitched battery, of which there was plenty.

Alastair Cook looks on during day two at the Gabba Alastair Cook looks on during day two at the Gabba

Johnson, moving fittingly from the Stanley Street End to the Vulture Street End, changed his line of attack to round the wicket. He whistled a couple past Carberry’s nose and then forced him to play at a ball searing at him around off stump.

At this stage, of course, there was always Ian Bell. In the summer there had always been Bell. But Lyon removed him with a snaking, lifting ball which he played off bat and pad to short leg and then did more or less precisely the same to Matt Prior next ball. It was one of those beastly quirks of sport, of life: England had spent days ensuring Prior was fit for this match after sustaining a torn calf and then he goes and lasts one ball.

There was a brief, brave riposte from Stuart Broad who was greeted to a succession of bouncers and took most of them on before being caught in the deep hooking once more. But the truth was out. If England are to find harmony on this tour they have to learn to play chin music.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?