Lunch Report: England leave fragile Australia reeling with fierce early blows
England squeezed Australia until their pips squeaked on the second morning of the final Test. With deadeye dick bowling and alert, athletic fielding, which has served them so well throughout the entire series, they scythed their way through their opponents' first innings.
Precious scoring opportunities were constantly denied, a tactic that paid handsome dividends, ensuring that Australian techniques and patience were found wanting. Four wickets fell all too quickly before some resistance was offered in a stubborn ninth-wicket stand between Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus which left Australia on 230 for eight at lunch. All the batsmen contributed to their own downfalls, seemingly unable to withstand the scrutiny of being regularly denied stroke-playing opportunities.
The first man to depart, perhaps most culpably of all, was the newly-appointed vice-captain, Brad Haddin, who played a statuesque drive well away from his body at Jimmy Anderson, which edged to give wicketkeeper Matt Prior his 17th catch of the series.
Australia tried to re-group through their man of the series, Mike Hussey, who left everything he could outside off stump. The run rate again was kept to two an over but Hussey knew that conditions were bound to ease if he could hang in.
Then with the last delivery with the old ball, he was dismissed by a neat piece of bowling from Paul Collingwood, who was merely turning his arm until the second new ball. Collingwood had bowled a sequence of tempting away swingers outside off stump that Hussey let go. He then took one sharply back in which surprised Hussey and he edged it into his stumps.
Steve Smith had been a skittish presence, sometimes solid in defence but too often flirting with danger. Australia have invested considerably in him as part of their future but he has yet to begin to repay the selectors' faith. The stroke which caused his dismissal was again poor, an ambitious drive to an Anderson away swinger which flew only as far as Collingwood at third slip.
Four balls later, Peter Siddle, who is often a lower-order sticker, found Anderson far too good for him and another catch was taken behind the wicket, this one by captain Andrew Strauss at first slip. Defiance was offered by Johnson who combined defence with occasional belligerence. He pulled two boundaries and with Hilfenhaus also gathering fours, one through gully and another more assuredly via square leg, Australia's tail wagged rather more animatedly than England might have preferred before lunch.
Johnson oddly turned down singles, protecting the No 10 batsman, Hilfenhaus and this elicited understandable boos from the crowd. But the pair gradually became more bold, and the 200 mark came and went.
England would have been well aware that the threat of Johnson grew each minute he stayed at the crease. When he made a breezy 62 at Perth in the third Test, his fragile confidence was so lifted that he came out and bowled a memorable spell that effectively won the Test and squared the series.
Paul Scholes: Frustrated Steven Gerrard should have started crucial game between Liverpool and Manchester United
Marco Reus becomes Arsenal transfer target to replace Theo Walcott
Paul Scholes: It's amazing Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has so few caps for England
New kits for 2015/16: Have the Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Barcelona strips been leaked?
England vs Lithuania: Theo Walcott 'at risk of being left behind' in Three Lions pecking order
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest