Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day December 16, 2010

England secure opening-day honours


England 0 for 29 (Strauss 12*, Cook 17*) trail Australia 268 (Johnson 62, Hussey 61, Haddin 53, Anderson 3-61, Tremlett 3-63) by 239 runs

Australia's problems continued on the opening day at the WACA as they struggled to 268 against more impressive bowling from England, but even that represented a fightback after another top-order meltdown. Chris Tremlett was the stand-out performer on his recall with three wickets, while James Anderson shook off concerns over jet-lag with three for himself. During the morning the hosts were in tatters at 4 for 36 but managed to haul themselves to respectability as Mitchell Johnson top-scored with 62.

Mike Hussey's prolific form continued with 61, as did his strong partnership with Brad Haddin who made 53, yet it's a sign of the problems Australia are facing that they need to cling to half-centuries as moments of success. The lower order rallied with some style, but that can't gloss over more worrying failures from the top of the list as the country's leading batsmen struggled to adapt to home conditions.

England's openers survived 12 overs until the close with Alastair Cook upper-cutting a six to third man, but Andrew Strauss flashed a chance past Hussey in the gully which the fielder didn't appear to pick up in the setting sun. The quick bowlers tried banging the ball in, although Ryan Harris was off target and there wasn't much swing for Ben Hilfenhaus. It continued to make a stark contrast to England.

Tremlett is playing his first Test since 2007 having been preferred over Tim Bresnan as Stuart Broad's replacement. That was always the likely move and he was rewarded in his first over when he won the battle with Phillip Hughes and troubled all the Australian batsmen. Michael Clarke could only offer a weak waft outside off to end another unconvincing display and in between Tremlett's two early successes Anderson claimed Ricky Ponting, for the third time in series, when Paul Collingwood held a stunning catch at third slip. Although not quite the drama of Adelaide at 3 for 2, 3 for 28 wasn't much better for Australia.

It fully justified Strauss's bold decision to bowl first, eager to keep the pressure on Australia's fragile top order. If it wasn't for the UDRS, England would have struck in the first over but Shane Watson was reprieved when replays showed the ball had struck thigh pad and not glove on the way down the leg side. However, the visitors didn't have to wait long as Tremlett immediately made an impression. After a couple of short balls to Hughes he pitched one fuller which the left-hander tried to play to leg and was bowled. As during the 2009 Ashes it wasn't the actual short ball that did for Hughes, but more the set-up.

Tremlett almost added Ponting without scoring when extra bounce found the edge but it flew between third slip and gully, but he only lasted 10 deliveries. Collingwood's grab at third slip won't be bettered in the series as he flung himself high to his right and the Australia captain was left with another low score.

Following Clarke's brief stay, which won't have quietened the debate about whether he should be Australia's next captain, Watson and Hussey were in a similar situation to Adelaide of having to halt England's charge. Watson, though, wasn't as confident as with his twin fifties last week and departed when Steven Finn's pinpoint yorker struck boot before bat. This time a review didn't save him.

Steve Smith supported Hussey until the lunch interval before being superbly worked over by Tremlett in a manner that shouldn't happen to a Test No. 6 and England sensed a quick kill. However, after a period of weathering the storm Hussey and Haddin started to open their shoulders. Haddin used his feet in Swann's first over and Hussey took three boundaries off Finn's next over, the first taking him to his fourth his fifty of a prolific series from 98 balls, and it needed a superb delivery from Swann to end his stay. Initially the umpire didn't give the decision, but Matt Prior was so convinced he signalled for the review while celebrating and Hotspot proved him spot on.

It was a timely blow for England because Finn didn't last much longer before leaving for treatment on a tight calf after his 11th over. His previous three overs had cost 28, but to England's relief he returned to the attack in the final session. With Finn not fully fit, it put an added burden on the other two pacemen and Anderson responded with a fiery spell. He removed Haddin when Swann held another cracking catch at second slip then speared one through Ryan Harris, who at least managed to open his account after the king pair in Adelaide, and he exchanged words with Johnson at the non-striker's end.

For Johnson it was a vital innings, his first contribution to the series after his horrid Brisbane display. He looked far better than some of his top-order colleagues, driving through the off side against the quicks and peppered the leg side against Swann. With just the final two wickets for company he didn't hold back before picking out square leg with a pull.

Siddle and Hilfenhaus took up the attacking mindset, unleashing a barrage of shots during a final-wicket stand of 35 which shook England a little, until Swann returned to have Hilfenhaus taken at short leg. The final total was better than it may have been earlier in the day, but it's slim pickings for Australia at the moment.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2010, 4:36 GMT

    It's time you all look at the current scores :P Well Done Australia on a good fightback!

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2010, 2:58 GMT

    Aussie had a great run. won a lot. beat every one. That was never going to last forever. Now they have to do what NZ have to and forget the past. Learn from the present. prepare for a future that's not going to be as easy as it was when the class players were around and look to perform as best they can.

  • Corey on December 17, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    And this morning proves my point....gotta take those catches!!

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2010, 2:04 GMT

    "I don't know why its hard for Australians to understand that, Your talent is not decreased nor that are you guys playing bad. But other countries like England, India & SA has increased their potential and their cricketing talent." Still I believe in Ausis'. You have to come up with the team effort now, not by changing the Captain or bringing Shane Warne back. . ... Now stop listening to others and work up to your true potential. Come up with flying colors. Surprise us again. Eng's are bowling well but you raise your bar and face them with your bat.

  • Ian on December 17, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Hands up if you just knew that the Ozzies would choke at the thought of actually getting a Beer in? Seriously though, they may yet regret not having a frontline spinner for this test (which should have been Hauritz of course). Love reading Marcio's comments - always finds a positive! If his house was burning down he'd probably think 'Oh good, let's make some toast' Did anyone else hear, I think Chappeli, on Channel 9 reporting the selectors official response as to why Johnson practised in the nets rather than play a Shield game? Something along the lines of 'it was better for him to bowl in the nets against Ponting & Hussey than play a Shield game against a team with no international batsmen' If this is true then I'm absolutely gobsmacked! Shows what the selectors think of the domestic setup.

  • Corey on December 17, 2010, 0:31 GMT

    Everyone is jumping the gun a bit and missing something....In this series and yesterday was a perfect example- England have held their catches and Aus havent. Aus have dropped some easy catches at crucial stages of gun Eng batsmen. Even Pontings last night-99% of the time he would of came forward to catch it. England have taken some screamers and Aus have dropped some sitters. Catches win Matches!! If we drop catches-bowlers get upset-it puts more pressure on them then Eng post a huge score which then puts pressure on our batsmen. Honestly if we'd held all our catches things wouldnt look as grim as they do. Also Smith looked shaky-not ready for test cricket. I thought Ponting looked good early but unlucky to get out to a screamer catch..Clarke will stay in until end of series-he did make 80 odd last test. Watson needs to bat down the order-lots of starts but doesnt go on. Siddle is not in our best 11-he bowls some rubbish. Hilfy to stay at least he swings it. Be patient with Hughes.

  • Mark on December 17, 2010, 0:27 GMT

    @landl47 Yes. that 7 runs would of made a difference. Smith is the new generation we can't stick with D.Hussey as the new allrounder. White is no allrounder, he's a batsman.

  • James on December 17, 2010, 0:21 GMT

    Great days cricket. Not as one-sided as some are suggesting and hats off to the Australian lower middle order for the dogged fight back. England continue to look a tidy outfit in the field but I can't help feeling that Australia scored 100 runs more than a truelly ruthless side should have let them. Can't wait to see today's action.

  • Dummy4 on December 17, 2010, 0:08 GMT

    I can't see anything happening but England piling on another huge score and leaving Aus trying to bat out the last 2 days to salvage a draw. A lot has been said about Aus decline but you cannot take credit away from Eng. The mark of a great team is a complete batting and bowling line up, which Eng seems to have. All the great teams (WI and Aus) have had complete teams and it looks like potentially this Eng team could be a great team. For this same reason expect to see India ripped apart by SA, a great batting line up + an average bowling line = an good, but not great, Indian team. Hoping SA and Eng will have home and away test series soon so we can see the 2 best teams in the world battle it out.

  • David on December 17, 2010, 0:07 GMT

    John Ide says " Phil Hughes got done by one GREAT ball and every know-all in the country screams for his head. Leave Hughes there (continuity fellers) and give him a chance." I bet you were one of the get rid of Marcus North crowd where's your continuity then. For the record If Hughes played forward he would have kept that ball out. If he played back he probably would have kept it out. But he tried to play a forcing shot from the crease across the line and missed it. Play straight - NO TECHNIQUE. SA had a guy called Paul Nobes in the 80's who played similarly and couldn't get near the Australian team despite getting a mountain of runs. What's the difference? Answer : Where he's from.

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