David Warner punished a depleted and dispirited England with a brilliant century to help drive Australia to 235 for three and a dominant lead of 369 after the third day of the third Ashes Test yesterday.
The hosts reached stumps with Shane Watson, who had made 29 not out, and Steve Smith, unbeaten on five, at the crease and looking well on their way to a victory which would secure an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
England’s hopes of keeping their series bid alive by avoiding defeat at the WACA Cricket Ground all but melted away in the fierce morning heat when they were skittled for 251 in their first innings.
They plummeted even further when their best bowler, Stuart Broad, was taken to hospital for scans on an injured foot and was unable to play any part in the final two sessions.
Warner took full advantage and, revelling in the lack of pressure afforded him by another superb performance by his bowlers, bludgeoned his way to his fifth Test century in 127 balls with 16 fours and one six.
The 27-year-old brought up the milestone by cutting Graeme Swann for a boundary and celebrated with an extravagant leap into the air and a flurry of bat pointing toward the home dressing room.
It was the opener’s second hundred of the series and a sixth by an Australia batsman to none from the tourists, whose entire team have been outscored by Warner, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin.
England, a pale imitation of the side that won the home Ashes series 3-0 earlier this year, had their chances to stop his progress, but wicketkeeper Matt Prior missed two stumping opportunities when the batsman was on 13 and 89.
They finally had their man for 112, when Warner holed out to Ben Stokes at mid-on attempting to smash Swann for a second huge six in one over.
Chris Rogers shared an opening partnership of 157 with Warner, scoring his fourth Test half-century at a more pedestrian pace, before being caught for 54 by Michael Carberry at point off the bowling of Tim Bresnan.
Australia captain Clarke departed for 23 as the evening shadows crept across the sunbaked ground, bowled through the gate by Stokes.
The wickets were rare high points on a miserable day for England, who had resumed in the morning on 180 for four in reply to Australia’s first-innings 385.
However, it was not much of a chase and they lost their last six wickets for the addition of just 71 runs, as Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle reprised their aggressive, but disciplined, pace assault.
Ian Bell was out leg before for 15 from the third ball of the third over and his overnight partner Stokes followed for 18 soon afterward to give Johnson his first victim in more than 40 overs of play.
Prior (eight) was caught behind to give Siddle his second wicket and Broad (five) lasted 23 minutes before he was dismissed leg before wicket by Johnson (2-62) with a full delivery that smacked into his boot.
That dismissal took on an extra dimension after lunch when Broad failed to come out to field having been sent off to a local hospital.
Harris (3-48) had Bresnan caught behind for 21 to take the first wicket with the new ball and Siddle finished with 3-36 after James Anderson (two) spooned one to George Bailey at short-leg to bring an end to the innings.