England take control against woeful Australia

Australia v England, Fourth Test, Melbourne, first day: Australia 98 v England 157-0

The Ashes loomed once more into England’s view in the Boxing Day Test as they dismissed Australia for 98. On another dramatic day in the series – there have been few undramatic ones – the tourists made wonderful use of conditions that favoured seam bowling.

Favoured perhaps but not to the extent that Australia insisted on demonstrating as they wasted any advantage that might have accrued from their overwhelming victory in the Third Test in Perth that levelled the series. Bowling which observed the eternal verities of line and length was altogether too powerful for undisciplined batting.



England replied to this miserable score with an unbroken first wicket partnership of 157 between Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, their second of three figures in the series, their tenth in all. Neither looked remotely troubled.



All ten of Australia’s wickets fell to catches behind the wicket, six of them to Matt Prior who had hardly to move a pace either way for any of them. The wickets were shared between a three-man seam attack who all supplied the essential skills of the craft.



Jimmy Anderson, whose use of swing both in and out, was again masterful and Chris Tremlett, using the pitch well to extract awkward bounce, both took four wickets. The other two went to the Yorkshire toiler, who was rightly preferred to Steven Finn in England’s side.



It was Australia’s lowest score against England at Melbourne (at last knocking into second place the 104 they mustered in the second innings of the first Test of all in 1877) and their lowest first innings score at the ground against any team. England would have been grateful to win the toss under heavy cloud cover with the pitch having a green tinge but might not have expected to find Australia quite so accommodating.



By the time lunch was taken five minutes early because of rain, four wickets had fallen. Crucially, the fourth, in what proved the last over of the session was that of Mike Hussey. Almost alone, Hussey has kept Australia’s top order afloat in this series and without who they were sunk.



Too many players are out of form, not least Ricky Ponting, who played despite a broken finger and was rewarded by getting a peach of a delivery from Tremlett, and Michael Clarke, who again never settled despite batting for 89 minutes.



Scoreboard

Australia first innings: 98 all out (42.5 overs)

England first innings: 157 for 0 (47 overs)

England lead by 59 runs

England first innings

Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s SR

A J Strauss not out 64 147 5 0 43.54

A N Cook not out 80 137 11 0 58.39

Extras: 13

Total: 157 for 0 (47 overs)

Fall of wickets:

A J Strauss not out 64 147 5 0 43.54

A N Cook not out 80 137 11 0 58.39

Bowler O M R W Econ

Hilfenhaus 9 3 26 0 2.89

Harris 10 3 30 0 3.00

Johnson 7 0 42 0 6.00

Siddle 10 4 13 0 1.30

Watson 5 1 14 0 2.80

Smith 6 1 22 0 3.67

Australia first innings

Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s SR

S R Watson

c Pietersen

b Tremlett 5 12 0 0 41.67

P J Hughes

c Pietersen b Bresnan 16 32 2 0 50.00

R T Ponting

c Swann b Tremlett 10 38 2 0 26.32

M J Clarke

c Prior b Anderson 20 54 2 0 37.04

M E K Hussey

c Prior b Anderson 8 41 1 0 19.51

S P D Smith

c Prior b Anderson 6 15 0 0 40.00

B J Haddin

c Strauss b Bresnan 5 16 1 0 31.25

M G Johnson

c Prior b Anderson 0 4 0 0 0.00

R J Harris not out 10 23 2 0 43.48

P M Siddle

c Prior b Tremlett 11 15 1 0 73.33

B W Hilfenhaus

c Prior b Tremlett 0 8 0 0 0.00

Extras: 7

Total: 98 all out (42.5 overs)

Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-37, 3-37, 4-58, 5-66, 6-77, 7-77, 8-77, 9-92, 10-98

Bowler O M R W Econ

Anderson 16 4 44 4 2.75

Tremlett 11.5 5 26 4 2.20

Bresnan 13 6 25 2 1.92

Swann 2 1 1 0 0.50

Toss won by England

Umpires Aleem Dar, A L Hill

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