Mitchell Johnson tormented England by taking seven wickets with some fearsome fast bowling yesterday and Australia’s batsmen compounded the pressure by extending the lead to 530 runs with two days remaining in the second Ashes Test.
It was a hectic third day at the Adelaide Oval, with 12 wickets tumbling after England resumed at 35-1 and were skittled for 172 in reply to Australia’s first innings of 570-9 declared. Johnson took 7-40, including a withering spell of 5-12 in 18 deliveries.
After electing not to enforce the follow-on, Australia slipped to 4-2, with Jimmy Anderson dismissing Chris Rogers (2) and Shane Watson (0) within two balls in the third over, before recovering to reach stumps at 132-3.
David Warner was unbeaten on 83. He shared partnerships of 61 with Michael Clarke (22), who was bowled by Monty Panesar, and 67 with Steve Smith (23 not out).
Johnson’s spell starting the second over after lunch rocked England’s middle and lower order and was instrumental in giving the Australians a 398 run first-innings lead. It could prove to be a series deciding spell, as England face an uphill task to avoid going 2-0 down.
Only Ian Bell (72 not out) and Michael Carberry (60) defied Johnson.
It was the third-straight innings in this series that England have failed to reach 200, with Johnson’s pace proving just as effective on the slower Adelaide Oval pitch as it was when he took nine wickets in the victory in the first Test in Brisbane.
Johnson, who was not considered good enough for selection for the last Ashes tour to England, where Australia lost 3-0, rattled the touring batsmen and was twice on a hat-trick.
“The rhythm has just stuck with me,” the 32-year-old Johnson said. “It means a lot to me to be able to play Test match cricket for Australia. Coming back from injury and plenty of people telling me I wasn’t going to play again, so it’s emotional for me.”
He commenced work on his ninth five-wicket haul in Tests by clean bowling England skipper Alastair Cook (3) on Friday.
Johnson did not take a wicket in the morning session yesterday, but was devastating in the middle session, producing a triple-wicket maiden in his second over; trapping Ben Stokes (1) LBW, and then snaring Matt Prior (0) caught behind and scattering Stuart Broad’s (0) stumps on the fifth and sixth deliveries.
No. 9 Graeme Swann prevented the hat-trick, only for Johnson to set up another tilt at that feat by claiming wickets on the last two deliveries of his next over: Swann slashed to second slip where Michael Clarke took a sharp catch and Jimmy Anderson had his stumps rattled next ball as England slid to 135-9.
Bell blocked the hat-trick ball and then went on the attack to score quick runs with No. 11 Monty Panesar at the other end.
The England No. 5 took 18 runs off an over from Ryan Harris, hitting three fours to raise his 50 and England’s 150 then pulling a six in front of the Sir Donald Bradman Pavilion.
They put on 37 for the last wicket before Panesar was bowled by Johnson.
It was some England batting lapses that caused the damage in the morning.
Joe Root (15) faced 79 deliveries before sweeping the first ball he faced from Nathan Lyon directly to Chris Rogers at deep backward square to make the score 57-2.
Kevin Pietersen (4) did not wait to get settled. He was beaten between bat and body by Peter Siddle and then, trying to stamp some authority, walked into the next ball and chipped a catch to short mid-wicket where George Bailey took a juggling catch on the third grab.
Bell and Carberry knuckled down and looked like steering England to lunch without further damage, but tight bowling by Harris and Watson — producing four-straight maiden overs — prompted Carberry to fatefully try to break the shackles, but he only succeeded in pulling a Shane Watson delivery to David Warner, who took a spectacular low catch.