Australia extend the humiliation
Australia 9 for 602 dec and 181 for 1 (Ponting 51*, Langer 88*) lead England 157 (Bell 50, McGrath 6-50) by 626 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out - England
How they were out - Australia
The tactic had been amply justified by the close, as Australia ground their way to 1 for 181, a massive lead of 626. Ponting himself was still there on 51, having passed 9000 runs in Test cricket, and all England had to show for another 40 overs of hard labour was the run-out of Matthew Hayden. As they trooped off the field after their third humiliation in a row, it was hard to believe that this was the same body of men who had retrieved the Ashes in such memorable fashion in 2005. As many as nine of the players on each team were present in that match at The Oval, but the gulf between mindsets could not have been more acute.
Since their arrival Down Under, England have been bewildered by the ferocity of Australia's resolve, and today no-one typified that determination better than McGrath. All year long he has been claiming that, at the age of 36, he is in the best shape of his life, but a ten-month absence to care for his sick wife Jane, and an unconvincing performance on the flat tracks of India last month, had the naysayers believing otherwise. Today, McGrath did as champions do, and let his bowling do the talking.
Flushed with confidence after two cheap scalps last night, McGrath tore through England's bewildered batting, teasing and tormenting England's outside edges in precisely the manner that England themselves had failed to do at any stage of the match. He grabbed his first of the day when Kevin Pietersen shouldered arms unwisely to one that jagged back and rapped the pads, and after watching Brett Lee dismiss Andrew Flintoff for a third-ball duck, McGrath returned to mop up the tail.
Flintoff's dismissal was an especially dismal moment for England. All through the first two day's play, he had been a lone pillar of strength, but suddenly, with his side in disarray at 4 for 78, he was on an absolute hiding to nothing. After surviving two deliveries, he nibbled at a third from Lee, and Gilchrist completed the catch that sent the crowd at the Gabba delirious.
Geraint Jones had by this stage perished, trapped on the crease by a full-length inswinger from McGrath, and England's innings folded in an embarrassing heap, with only Ashley Giles provided any token resistance in a defiantly chancy 24. Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison both fell for ducks, caught behind off Clark and McGrath respectively, and it was McGrath who wrapped up proceedings when Giles retreated to leg and top-edged a short ball to point. As he led his side off the pitch, McGrath clutched at his back in a mock display of old age. So far in this Test, Dad's Army has been doing okay.
It got no better for England as Ponting opted to give them another stint in the field. In theory it could have been a blessing in disguise for an attack that is woefully short of match fitness, but Hayden reverted to his best bullying mode to ensure there were no plus-points to be gained from the new ball. James Anderson, who has arguably endured an even worse match than the hapless Harmison, was beasted for three fours in a row, and though he gained his revenge with a pin-point run-out it was scant consolation. By the close even their direct hits were ricocheting for overthrows, as Australia marched on and on and on. It is more than just a beating that England are taking in this match, it is an evisceration.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo