The Reuters global sports blog
11.53am local time on December 29, 2010 at Melbourne Cricket Ground. It’s the moment England cricket fans have waited nearly a quarter of a century for. The Ashes are won/retained in Australia.
Minus the Perth aberration, even the hardest Australian heart would have to concede it was deserved. Surely?
Mick Tsikas caught the celebrations.
England should now win the Melbourne test and retain the Ashes after taking a commanding first innings lead of 346 runs after batting through day two of the fourth test.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting’s frustration over a TV referral decision boiled over into a row with umpire Aleem Dar.
Congratulations to Australia for finally coming to the Ashes party. As humiliating as the innings loss was in Adelaide, to level the series in such emphatic style with a 267-run win in Perth has re-asserted some authority over the old enemy.
Naturally, questions will now to turn to England’s frailties, and more pointedly to the dismantling of their so-called “world-class” batting line up, as well as their inability to deal with a bouncy pitch and fast short-pitched bowling.
Well there it is. Australia thrash England by 267 runs in Perth and the Ashes series is all square at 1-1 with two tests to go in Melbourne and Sydney.
Australia’s policy of playing four seamers on a bouncy track paid dividends and England’s batsmen proved they weren’t such world beaters when they were put under serious pressure.
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of Mitchell Johnson’s display on day two of the third Ashes test. Australia had all but given up on the Ashes after England bowled them out for 268 on day one. The post mortem had started and the main topic of discussion was about who could or would replace Ricky Ponting as skipper.
On Friday morning, Johnson was reborn as a test bowler and skittled England’s top order. The impact was immediate. Suddenly, the Australian voices in the crowd drowned out England’s “Barmy Army”, the Australian players were chirping aggressively and the English wickets kept tumbling until they were bowled out for 187. Johnson finished with 6-38.
Mitchell Johnson showed the sort of form that won him the 2009 ICC Cricketer of the Year award with a fiery spell of inswinging that accounted for four of the England top order on Friday morning, bringing Australia right back into the third Ashes test in Perth.
The Australian quick, dropped for the second Adelaide test after going wicketless for the first time in a test in the first match at the Gabba, took time out from his celebrations of his second wicket to make his feelings clear to his press box critics in a gesture captured by Reuters’ photographer Tim Wimborne.
England won the first day honours in the third Ashes test to the delight of their ‘Barmy Army’, bowling Australia out for 268 and reaching 29 without loss before the close of play.
Australia’s tail wagged hard to get the hosts to respectability and their four fast bowlers will be keen to get back into the English batsmen on Friday on a pitch that looks to have plenty of life in it. Mitchell Johnson’s fine knock of 62 will be a big boost to the Queenslander – a confidence player returning after being dropped for the heavy defeat in Adelaide – and he has plenty to prove with the ball.
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting failed for the fourth time in five innings in the current Ashes series as the hosts struggled to 179-6 at tea on the first day of the third test against England.
His captaincy may be under threat but with his team mates (Mike Hussey excepted) also failing at the crease, his place as a batsman looks safe for a while now.
Did somebody call for a doctor? A psychiatrist more like! A serious amount of surgery is needed on the Australian cricket team to help them turn around their fortunes in the third Ashes test starting on Thursday.
Australia could make five changes for the Perth test as they shuffle their pack in an attempt to find the magic combination to take 20 English wickets and take advantage of the “Freemantle Doctor” (the term given to the breeze that blows across the WACA ground which can be a useful asset to any bowling attack).
The ticking sound that could be heard at the Adelaide Oval during the final day of the second Ashes test earlier this month was not the sound of time ebbing away for Australia’s war weary batsmen, but literally that of the clock at the back of the main stand.
Apart from the disintegration of one of sport’s truly great institutions – the Australian cricket team – the other eye-catching spectacle of the first two tests has been the near capitulation of support for the Aussies. Crowds will be under the microscope in this week’s third test in Perth as well as the team.