Ashes: Mitchell Johnson puts Australia in charge in Perth
Mitchell Johnson tore through England’s top order to place Australia in the driving seat on day two of the third Test in Perth.
The left arm seamer took 6-38 on his return to the side to hamper England’s first innings total as they collapsed to post just 187. Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell passed fifty but fell 81 runs behind Australia’s first-innings total.
With the sun beating down from a cloudless sky the conditions looked ideal for England to comfortably surpass Australia’s 268. Alastair Cook and Strauss, carrying on from their overnight stand on 29, began comfortably.
The partnership reached 76 before Cook pushed at Johnson and spliced to Michael Hussey at gully. This sparked a middle order collapse as the recalled Johnson found his rhythm in a devastating spell.
Jonathan Trott was trapped in front after a vicious in swinger for 0 and Kevin Pietersen fell in identical fashion soon after, also for a duck. The late movement proved too much for the pair.
Strauss passed his fifty but then tickled an edge through to Brad Haddin, leaving his side 94-4.
England were left reeling when Johnson struck again to claim his forth wicket, Paul Collingwood lbw to another in swinger which came back from outside off stump.
Bell and Matt Prior came together and settled well to carry England over and beyond the 100 mark as they rebuilt after Johnson’s fireworks.
Peter Siddle moved around the wicket looking to intimidate with the shorter ball but his lack of accuracy saw a number of deliveries fly harmlessly down the leg side.
Yet the plan eventually paid off as he struck Prior on the thigh before it ricocheted onto his gloves and hit the stumps.
This exposed the tail, which has been lengthened by the loss of Stuart Broad, and Australia’s pace attack made short work of maximising their first-innings lead.
Graeme Swann edged Harris before Chris Tremlett was another victim of Johnson’s in swing. Bell passed fifty but was well caught by captain Ricky Ponting at second slip as he flashed hard at a wide delivery.
Fittingly, Johnson took the final wicket of James Anderson to finish with 6-38, putting both his team and himself backing on track after a torrid start to this Ashes series.
With a lead of 81 Watson and Phil Hughes looked to put England under pressure with some aggressive play from the off. Watson targeted Finn in his very first over but the young seamer fought back and took the wicket of Hughes, Collingwood taking a far simpler catch at slip.
Anderson and Finn applied the brakes and Ponting gloved down the leg side. Initially given not out another good review from England saw the decision overturned for Finn’s second wicket.
England became obsessed with the short ball as Michael Clarke arrived at the crease and he raced onto 20 in just 15 balls. However the introduction of Tremlett, who bowled a fuller length forced the Aussie vice captain to play onto his own stumps.
Watson (61) and Michael Hussey (24) took Australia to the close unbeaten and with a lead of 200.