Openers survive as England impress in Ashes

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The Independent Online

Another grand day for England at the Ashes, though by its close not as grand as it might have been. They dismissed Australia for 268 to gain a significant early advantage in the Third Test and replied with 29 for 0.

Splendid though this effort was on the first day, the tourists may have been slightly disappointed to concede quite so many. In a marvellous opening session after winning the toss and bowling, they reduced Australia to 36 for four and soon after lunch to 69 for five.

Australia’s recovery was begun – again – by Mike Hussey and his partnership with Brad Haddin of 68 from 79 balls gave an aura of respectability to the innings. This was enhanced by the cultured slogging of Mitchell Johnson whose 62 from 93 balls was the top score.

The last two wickets added a valuable 67 runs. England’s most impressive performer was Chris Tremlett, recalled to the side after three years in place of the injured Stuart Broad. He did exactly what was expected of him, extracting bounce from a surface which offered initial encouragement and striking in his first over by bowling Philip Hughes. Tremlett finished with three wickets as did Jimmy Anderson who displayed no ill effects from the two long haul flights he had made to England and back for the birth of his second child.

Hughes was one of four changes to the side that lost the Second Test in Adelaide. But at the last minute they decided not to field Michael Beer, the left arm spin bowler who has played only six first-class matches. It meant that their attack comprised four fast bowlers.

The dramatic morning session was almost as bad for Australia as it had been in Adelaide a fortnight earlier. No sooner had Hughes gone, playing across the line, than the home side’s captain, Ricky Ponting, followed him. Short of runs and eager to impose himself, Ponting was caught brilliantly at third slip by Paul Collingwood who flung himself wide to his left and held on to sizzling edge with one hand. Michael Clarke, horribly out of form, and Shane Watson also went before lunch and Australia were in disarray once more.

England’s fielding was perhaps the outstanding feature of their cricket and Graeme Swann took another excellent catch above his head at second slip to remove Haddin. There was something in the pitch for the bowlers early in the day and while England used the conditions well, Australia must have been bitterly disappointed with their batsmen.

Fall of wickets :1-2 (P.J. Hughes, 2), 2-17 (R.T. Ponting, 12), 3-28 (M.J. Clarke, 4), 4-36 (S.R. Watson, 13), 5-69 (S.P.D. Smith, 7), 6-137 (M.E.K. Hussey, 61), 7-189 (B.J. Haddin, 53), 8-201 (R.J. Harris, 3), 9-233 (M.G. Johnson, 62), 10-268 (B.W. Hilfenhaus, 13),