Australia shattered England’s batting with six wickets for nine runs in a stunning mid-afternoon spell, before dismissing the tourists for 136 and taking a lead of 224 on day two of the first Ashes Test yesterday.
Openers David Warner (45) and Chris Rogers (15) backed up the bowlers by batting out a gloomy final session at the Gabba and will resume on 65 without loss in Australia’s second innings today.
Oft-pilloried paceman Mitchell Johnson led the way with four for 61 as Australia transformed their prospects in the match after a disappointing opening day at the Gabba and after being bowled out for 295 in the first hour yesterday.
The revitalized left-arm quick was at his pacey, hostile best on a bouncy track and was ably supported by fellow paceman Ryan Harris (3-28) and spinner Nathan Lyon (2-17), as the hosts put themselves in a good position to win a first Test in 10 matches.
“You had to earn the right to have sessions like that and I thought we built the pressure quite well,” said wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, whose 94 kept Australia from a similarly dismal score in their first innings. “We’ve got a long way to go in this Test match, we’ve got to turn up tomorrow, we know England will keep coming, so it’s up to us to make sure we’re on.”
Despite the losses of captain Alastair Cook for 13 and Jonathan Trott for 10 before lunch, England looked to be making steady progress toward a reasonable score at 82-2 midway through the second session.
Haddin, though, said bowling coach Craig McDermott, returning for this series after quitting last year, had laid down the law to the bowlers at the lunch break.
“[He] told the bowlers in no uncertain terms where he wanted to things to be, and we came back after the break and got our lengths right,” Haddin said.
The departure of Kevin Pietersen for 18, when he swatted the ball off his pads to George Bailey to give Harris his second wicket, was the first hint of the carnage to come.
Johnson and his fellow bowlers then ran amok to leave the tourists facing an uphill task just to save the Test, let alone secure a first victory in Brisbane since 1986.
Opener Michael Carberry, who had crafted a careful 40 on his Ashes debut in his second Test, was next to head back to the pavilion when Johnson had him caught by Shane Watson at second slip.
Ian Bell, who scored three centuries in England’s 3-0 triumph on home soil earlier this year, followed quickly afterwards for 5 when Steve Smith snatched the ball out of the air at short-leg.
It was Smith’s conviction that Matt Prior had hit the following ball before it landed in his hands that led to Australia successfully appealing to the TV umpire, sending the wicketkeeper back to the dressing room with a golden duck.
That put Lyon on a hat-trick and, although Broad safely watched the next delivery sail past his off-stump, Joe Root (2) and Graeme Swann (0) soon became Johnson’s third and fourth victims.
The Gabba was in ferment, England’s Barmy Army silent, as Johnson, the object of so much derision from England fans, celebrated what was a match-changing, and could turn out to be a match-winning, intervention.
“The Gabba’s one of those grounds where things can happen quite quick, especially with the extra bounce,” Haddin said. “Sometimes when you do get on a roll here it’s hard to stop.”