Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 2nd day December 27, 2010

Trott keeps England on target to retain the urn


England 5 for 444 (Trott 141*, Cook 82, Prior 75*, Strauss 69, Pietersen 51, Siddle 3-58) lead Australia 98 by 346 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

On a day when Ricky Ponting lost his cool with the umpires, Jonathan Trott was a picture of composure as his second century of the series kept England on target to retain the Ashes. Led by an aggressive Peter Siddle in front of his home crowd, the Australian fast men tried to drag their team back into the contest but after their first-innings 98, the hosts needed a miraculous day, not a solid one.

Trott was the anchor for England, with support from Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior, and by the close of play their advantage had grown to 346 runs, already an ample lead that will grow on day three. Trott went to stumps on 141 and Prior had 75, and Australia's inability to break through in the final session sapped any energy they might have drawn from Siddle's early strikes.

Three days of rain might be feasible in Brisbane, given the recent weather in the north, but it won't happen in Melbourne, and Australia's batsmen must find remarkable resolve in the second innings if England are to be denied victory and the urn is to remain up for grabs at the SCG. And judging by Ponting's outburst, levelheadedness is not widespread in the team right now.

He was convinced the review of a not-out caught-behind decision against Kevin Pietersen showed a deflection on Hot Spot, but it was a misguided thought as the ball had passed much higher on the bat. After the third umpire correctly backed Aleem Dar's on-field decision to reprieve Pietersen on 49, Ponting heatedly argued with Dar, Pietersen and the other umpire Tony Hill.

It was an ugly incident that took the attention away from a solid 92-run partnership between Trott and Pietersen, which ended soon afterwards when Pietersen was plumb lbw to Siddle for 51. What followed was an eventful mini-session as the out-of-form Paul Collingwood (8) and Ian Bell (1) both hooked short balls from Mitchell Johnson to Siddle at fine leg, before Prior had a lucky escape on 5.

Just before tea, Johnson won a caught-behind decision from Dar, and Prior was walking off when he was called back by Dar, who had a nagging doubt about whether Johnson had overstepped. A quick consultation with the third official showed Johnson had indeed delivered a no-ball; Prior was reprieved, the Australians were frustrated, and the Prior-Trott partnership was allowed to bulge to 158 by stumps.

In amongst it all, Trott survived a tight run-out chance when his dive to complete a third just beat Ponting's throw from the outfield, and he brought himself serious pain when he inside-edged Ben Hilfenhaus on to his left knee. After a couple of minutes of lying flat on the pitch in agony, Trott continued to annoy the Australians with his fine, disciplined innings.

There were occasional cover-drives from Trott, but generally he showed as much leg as a burlesque dancer. Trott would walk across and expose his leg stump, dragging anything and everything through midwicket or fine leg, and by the time he brought up his hundred with an appropriate clip through square for a boundary, 87% of his runs had come through the leg side.

Not that there were many boundaries from Trott, who was content to nudge through the gaps and keep the fielders chasing. It was that kind of cool that Australia's batsmen lacked on the first day, and England's strong performance continued with Prior reaching a fifty from 81 balls as the shadows grew longer in the late afternoon.

It meant five of England's top seven had made at least a half-century in the innings, and it was all set up by the 159-run opening stand from Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook. But neither man was able to kick on during the second morning, and both fell to Siddle after adding only a few runs to their overnight scores.

Cook moved from 80 to 82 before he was caught low at first slip by Shane Watson, having edged a delivery that was tight enough in line to make him play. Strauss went from 64 to 69 when he was surprised by a well-directed shortish ball from Siddle, and it lobbed off the bat above the head of the gully Michael Hussey, who thrust his right hand up to take a good catch.

It was the best spell of the day by an Australian bowler, as Siddle collected 2 for 5 from his first six overs, before his final over of that period was dispatched for 13 as a confident Pietersen drove and pulled. Steven Smith was handled with ease and didn't look threatening, Hilfenhaus couldn't find much swing and Harris was well below his Perth form, also struggling to move the ball.

Not that the bowlers could be blamed for Australia's position. And if anything is to change over the next few days, their batsmen will need to take a leaf out of Jonathan Trott's book.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ben on December 28, 2010, 1:42 GMT

    @popcorn: your credibility expires from the moment you state "I do not find anything wrong in his arguing with the umpires". It is set in stone that the umpires' decision is final.

    The ACB accepted the technology, and the rules surrounding UDRS,as applicable to this series. Their captain is therefore bound by its limitations. There was no evidence that overwhelmingly overturned Dar's decision, and so the decision stood - exactly as was intended when UDRS was introduced. Ponting's behavour after that was an utter disgrace; a clear lack of class and character from a man who, whilst one of this generation's greatest batsmen, has shown again that he can't handle it as captain when it gets more difficult than sticking Warne on at one end and McGrath at the other.

    In case I seem typically anti-Aussie: kudos to Peter Siddle, who bowled immaculately all innings. Brilliant seam bowling.

  • John on December 28, 2010, 0:54 GMT

    popcorn, you are incredible. Is there no failure or idiocy of the Australian team which you won't find not only acceptable, but virtuous? Even if the decision in the case which Ponting argued was wrong (and it wasn't), to suggest that Ponting was somehow doing the game a favor by arguing with the umpire is unbelievable. I'm convinced that when England retain the Ashes you will manage to find some way of persuading yourself that England didn't really win any games. You should write a book- "How To Make Yourself Happy by Not Accepting Reality". You'd make a fortune.

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2010, 0:50 GMT

    It seems like aussies commentators are so partial.... Dont like if NO BALL is reviewed Dont like if Trott take a fraction of a second to come to crease !!! Should be neutral commentators.......

  • Ralph on December 27, 2010, 23:24 GMT

    Unfortunately this Australian attack does not look capable of taking 20 English wickets on a consistent basis. Johnson performs well too rarely and the gap between his best and worst is far too big. If he can't get consistent then replace him. Siddle is a good workhorse but needs to learn how to get good batsmen out. Hilfenhaus needs to learn subtle variation so he can create more wicket taking chances. Harris is a good honest support bowler but probably not a match winner. What Australia desperately needs is a genuine express bowler that can bowl at 150kph+ and scare the pants off the English, and a miserly line & length bowler to strangle the runs to complement him - at present this team has neither. As for a spinner, if they're not a genuine wicket taker then they at least need to be able to dry up the runs (i.e. Hauritz) and provide some variation to the attack. Come on selectors, stop picking on reputation and start putting a team out there who are hungry and can play their role.

  • Steve on December 27, 2010, 23:18 GMT

    Thank goodness England weren't punished as a result of Punters outburst! After all, a match ban would hamper England's chances in the next test! He's been a great player (and possibly still is) but in his present state of mind he's one of the best things England have going for them. Thanks Ricky. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Rajaram on December 27, 2010, 23:16 GMT

    Ponting is not a fool. He has played enough cricket to know when there is an edge, and when there is not.I do not find anything wrong in his arguing with the umpires - Hotspot is not a reliable technology as it has been proven faulty in this ashes series. First, Ryan Harris was given out lbw when there was a definite edge, but Hotspot did not show it.Here at the MCG, Hotspot was shown up to be defective. Ponting has OPENLY stated his views after the Gabba Test that he is not impressed wiyth the technology. His stand is vindicated here at the MCG, and the Officials AND critics should praise him for standing up and doing good for the improvement of the game.

  • Christopher on December 27, 2010, 23:16 GMT

    The behaviour seen from Ricky Ponting was a reflection of the incredible lack of professionalism in the entire Australian setup. Australia has dropped to number five simply because the old hard nosed professionalism that rewarded players on the merit of their performances, has been replaced by a self serving boys club. They have been so used to failing and getting their own way, that they are genuinely surprised at not being able to bully officials as well. The last two years have seen the papers littered with statements by the Ponting, Nielsen, Sutherland and Hilditch about what they are going to do, but didnt. The rhetoric can no longer veil the staggering ineptitude of this group. Not even the doctored perth wicket, with pace and bounce unseen in the last 15 years, can save them. I hope that the utter humiliation of this group will finally result in the sacking of Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, Coach Tim Nielsen, Batting coach Justin Langer, selector Hilditch and Ponting.

  • Tariq on December 27, 2010, 23:10 GMT

    I think the huge come back fight from aussies is very much possible on day 3. Performances from ponting, clarke and watson will be vital in aussies batting order with big hundreds from clarke, watson and hussey is very much will be a very fascinating end of this bo*ing day test match...

  • Grant on December 27, 2010, 23:01 GMT

    If the match ref had banned Punter, even for one match, it would have ended his career, and it would have been a shame for such an illustrious career to end in such a grubby way. Maybe the ref had that in mind when he left it at a fine. Whether it would be right or wrong to take that into consideration is another matter. I agree that the fine is irrelevant to a man like Ponting. Hopefully the embarrassment of seeing what a prat of himself, especially as he was clearly wrong will be a bit more chastening.

  • Andrew on December 27, 2010, 23:00 GMT

    It's been a great spectacle so far from the comfort of my armchair across the Tasman, but is anybody else disappointed with the attendance at the MCG? I know Aussies don't like seeing their sides beaten whatever the sport, but one would think there would be a bit more stickability, especially during the last session of day one and yesterday. Potentially, had they bowled better in that last session of day one they could have ripped the guts out of the England top order, and surely that would've been worth sticking around for? And yesterday (day two), they could have continued the job and restricted England to a lead of around 100-150, setting the game up nicely. As it was, the fans deserted the team when they were most needed. I don't recall the last time that England fans at home or abroad left the ground early in such vast numbers. Perhaps the Aussie fans' lack of spirit and backbone mirrored what was being dished up by their heroes on the pitch. England fans, you're a credit!

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