Mitchell Johnson leaves England dazed in Perth

Fifteen days ago, Mitchell Johnson looked a lost soul as he sat before the media to explain his omission from the Second Ashes Test in Adelaide. Today, it was England who were struggling to find their bearings after Johnson left them dazed with an explosive spell of pace and swing that means Australia are favourites to win the Third Test here at the WACA.

Johnson took six for 35 from 17.3 overs to earn his team an 81-run first-innings lead - something that appeared inconceivable after they were bowled out for 268 yesterday - and throw the Ashes series back open after England’s crushing victory in Adelaide. Australia closed on 119 for three, thanks largely to a menacing unbroken stand of 55 between Shane Watson and Mike Hussey, who punished Graeme Swann and Steve Finn. Their lead of 200 gives them control of this Test.

The tourists lost all their wickets for just 109 runs and were left stunned by Johnson, whose international career looked to be in the balance after his figures of nought for 170 in the First Test in Brisbane.

Thirteen wickets fell on a compelling second day in Perth, with England’s three strikes before the close leaving them with a tiny chance of earning the unlikely victory that would see the Ashes retained before Christmas.

On this bouncy surface, chasing anything close to 300 would prove a very difficult task. Yet if England are seeking inspiration, they should examine South Africa’s performance here two years ago, when Graeme Smith’s team scored 414 in the fourth innings for six-wicket victory.

At the hottest of Ashes venues, both sets of players reached boiling point on another ill-tempered day. Jimmy Anderson was ticked off by umpire Billy Doctrove for persistent sledging, while Matt Prior and Peter Siddle had a verbal exchange that Prior seemed to want to settle after play. With Johnson also giving loud send-offs to both Anderson and Kevin Pietersen, and England telling Michael Clarke exactly what they thought of him, perhaps WACA officials will be thinking of forming a temporary Sumo wrestling ring in the car park to give spectators some more entertainment after play.

Unfortunately, it was Australia who made all the decisive moves, although England did at least give themselves something to smile about by making inroads into the home batting.

Phillip Hughes failed again after being recalled to the team when he pushed tentatively at Finn and was caught at third slip by Collingwood. Ricky Ponting also fell cheaply for the second time in the match, gloving Finn down the leg side to Prior.

Ponting was given not out but when Marais Erasmus’ decision was reviewed, replays showed that ball clearly brushed glove. Clarke looked positive and confident before he was undone when he misread the length of a wide delivery from Chris Tremlett, attempted a cut shot and dragged the ball on to his stumps.

Who would have imagined that England’s batting line-up could be destroyed so comprehensively? Totals of 517 for one in Brisbane and 620 for five in Adelaide indicated confidence and solidity, and Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook began the morning showing just those qualities.

Strauss was lucky, edging Ryan Harris for four on 16 as neither wicketkeeper Brad Haddin nor first slip Watson moved to take the catch, but this was a rare moment of uncertainty. Cook was similarly assured, only for the match - and the series - to change when, with England 78 without loss, he drove lazily at Johnson and Hussey took a fine low catch in the gully.

Jonathan Trott is a fine batsman, yet sometimes he comes to the wicket and appears jittery. Such was the case here. Trott had already edged Johnson for a streaky four when he tried to whack the next ball, an inswinger, through midwicket and was plumb lbw.

Kevin Pietersen scored a Test-best 227 at Adelaide and spent the following week in the headlines after being caught speeding in a yellow Lamborghini provided by Shane Warne. Here, he never got out of first gear, lasting only three balls before he was trapped lbw by Johnson. Pietersen called for the review but it was never going to save him - a duck for KP and a verbal volley from Johnson to boot.

England simply could not cope with the swing Johnson was finding. Tearing in from the Northern End, the left-armer bowled a vicious bouncer at Collingwood and then suckered him with an in-ducker next ball. Collingwood was originally given not out, but the Australian review condemned him. England were 98 for five and Johnson had seized three wickets at the cost of just four runs.

Collingwood’s departure left Ian Bell as England’s only remaining specialist batsman before the score had even reached 100. Before Collingwood’s wicket, the captain had also fallen, Strauss pushing tentatively at one from Harris that left him slightly and was caught by Brad Haddin.

Along with Prior, Bell nursed England to lunch and they were making cautious progress afterwards until Prior was left cursing a member of the local wildlife. Just as Siddle entered his delivery stride, a seagull flew across the England man’s line of vision. The ball hit Prior in the midriff, bounced back off his bat and rolled towards the stumps, removing one bail.

Siddle yelled his delight in Prior’s direction and Prior responded in the same vein, but at this stage, it was only Australia who were supporting their words with deeds.

Swann assisted Bell for 10.3 overs before nicking Harris through to Haddin. Then Bell - who had made his third fifty of the series and his 11th in Ashes cricket - drove at a wide one from the same bowler and was taken at second slip by Ponting.

Twice in his three innings in this series, Bell has been left stranded with the tail. He could be forgiven for looking at England’s four top-order century-makers and thinking “it’s all right for you boys”, but had he been more careful and batted for longer with the lower order, England’s deficit might not have been so significant.

As it was, Johnson made short work of Tremlett and Anderson to crown a brilliant display either side of lunch. What impact will his work today have on the battle for the Ashes?

Tom Collomosse is the cricket correspondent for the Evening Standard.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week