England tightened their grip on the Ashes in Perth yesterday, restricting Australia to a first-innings total of 268 after a feisty rearguard fightback on day one of the third Test.
England’s seamers blasted through Australia’s first four batsmen for only 36 runs during a fiery morning session, but were plundered for another 232 by the last six as the greentop pitch flattened out under a baking hot sun at the WACA.
Andrew Strauss, on 12, and Alastair Cook (17) survived 12 overs in the last session to see the tourists to 29 for no loss at stumps.
Tail-end cameos by pacemen Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle delighted home fans, but served to underline a missed opportunity by Australia’s top order to weather the early attack and build a big total.
After resuming on 179-6, England quick James Anderson struck in the fourth over after tea when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin nicked a thick edge to Graeme Swann at slip to go for 53.
Anderson then bowled paceman Ryan Harris for 3 in his next over, before Johnson celebrated a brave half-century in a solid return to the side after being dropped following the first Test in Brisbane.
Johnson’s heroics were ended by Steve Finn, however, who dismissed the paceman for 62 after enticing him into a poorly hit pull shot straight to Anderson at square leg.
Spinner Graeme Swann then had Ben Hilfenhaus out for 13, caught by Cook at short-leg to leave Siddle stranded on 35 not out.
Chris Tremlett earlier continued his brilliant return to the Test team by removing Steve Smith for 7 shortly after lunch for his third wicket to leave Australia reeling for 69-5.
Hussey threw caution to the wind in a defiant stand with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, however, and brought up his half-century with a boundary off Steve Finn.
It was up to Swann to stop the rot and he duly delivered in his second over after being introduced to relieve the England seamers as the temperature soared above 30°C.
Swann was carted for three boundaries by the enterprising Haddin in his first over, but responded by having Hussey caught behind for 61 just before tea.
The breakthrough ended a 68-run partnership between Husssey and Haddin and exposed Australia’s long tail with more than a session left to play.
Australia trail the five-Test series 1-0, but already appear in survival mode with England needing victory in Perth to take the Ashes home for the first time in 24 years.
Strauss landed the first psychological blow by winning the toss and the call proved correct as Tremlett bowled Hughes with his sixth ball, then removed Michael Clarke for 4 in his fourth over.
Anderson clinched the key wicket of Ricky Ponting for 12 to continue a dismal run for the Australia captain, who failed twice in the second Test at Adelaide.
Finn compounded the hosts’ morning misery by dismissing Shane Watson LBW for 13 shortly before lunch after landing a yorker plum on the opening batsman’s toe in a decision confirmed by TV review.
The fiery morning spell recalled England’s furious attack at the Adelaide Oval that saw the hosts lose three wickets for two runs within three overs of their first innings of the second Test.
After dismissing Australia cheaply in that innings, England then romped to an innings and 71 run victory and will now hold similar hopes of repeating the feat at Perth.
S AFRICA VS INDIA