Another Ashes scar for Ponting
Battered, bruised and almost defeated
Things were bad enough for Ricky Ponting before he was clocked in the mouth by a hard Matt Prior drive from the ball before lunch. Australia had bled runs over the previous hour and now Ponting's spit was red. He left with his team for the break, was treated and on the resumption wore grazes on both lips - and a helmet the next time he was at silly point. Andrew Flintoff came in and received a handshake of congratulation from Ponting, but was soon hurting the captain again when a shot cannoned into Ponting's behind. He left the field briefly before tea for more mouth work.
England's most testing moment came from the first ball when Peter Siddle thought he had Jonathan Trott caught behind. The ball broke through the surface and leapt at the batsman, brushing his thigh but not his bat. Asad Rauf, who has made some bad decisions in this game, got this one right and England's day was rosy.
Trott's left thigh was brushed on 97 when he inside-edged a ball from Ben Hilfenhaus that almost ricocheted into the stumps. By the end of the over he was the 18th Englishman to score a century and he waved his bat like a wand to salute the crowd. His mum was overcome, sitting in the stands crying at her son's gutsy achievement.
Another brief appearance from Flintoff in his last game. He stayed only 18 balls, clipping 22 before holing out to long-on off Marcus North. By then he had swiped North for two leg-side boundaries and pulled Peter Siddle for four in a contender for shot of the day. Nobody was sitting as he left the ground, with the Australian huddle also saluting him.
Mitchell Johnson's five-wicket haul at Headingley feels as far away as the South Africa tour after another haphazard display at The Oval. Having stormed through two batsmen on Friday afternoon, Johnson was back to his wayward ways of early in the series, feeding the batsmen with short and wide balls, short and full ones, and actual wides that bounced well over the striker's head. He got two overs at the start of the day and did not return until after lunch, giving away 38 in nine overs.
Breaking the shackles
Andrew Strauss had fought all morning until he broke free against Stuart Clark with two special cover drives for four in consecutive balls. He walked down the pitch to the first one, beating the couple of men parked within a few metres of each other, and the next shot was even firmer, racing to the boundary before the fielders could move. The lead had passed 300 and soon Strauss and Trott had 32 in four overs, accelerating the game away from Australia.
The worst decision belonged to Prior, who picked the wrong man to take a quick single to. Simon Katich has been amazingly sharp in this game, picking up a great catch and a run-out on the second day, and it was silly of Prior to call yes when his push to cover went to Katich's preferred left side. The direct hit sent him off with 4, providing the Australians with a rare happy moment.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo