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

A thin line for Johnson, a rare failure for Bell


Mitchell's foot-fault
With Australia enjoying a relatively fruitful spell with the ball, Mitchell Johnson found Matt Prior's outside edge on 5, and Prior trooped off for a routine caught-behind. However, just as he was leaving the square, Aleem Dar - who had earlier attracted the unwarranted wrath of Ricky Ponting - gestured for him to hold on for a moment, and sent the decision upstairs for a second opinion. Sure enough, Dar's suspicion that Johnson had over-stepped was confirmed by the TV replay, and Prior returned to the crease as England's next batsman, Tim Bresnan, retreated to the dressing-room for a sit-down. "Mitch has just found out why the coaches keep rabbiting on at training about not bowling no balls," tweeted Australia's manager, Steve Bernard. "The frustrations of a bowler's life." It was Australia's 17th overstep of the series. England, by contrast, have done so just five times.

Bell bombs
If the clamour for Ian Bell's promotion was justified by the latest episode of Paul Collingwood's troubled series, then his eventual appearance at No. 6 led to a rare and, frankly, unexpected failure. A Johnson short ball kept climbing high above Bell's eye-line, and an uncontrolled hook was top-edged to Peter Siddle at square leg. He departed for 1 from 13 balls, his first single-figure score of the series, but with the lead already pushing 200, it wasn't exactly make or break. The Bell of old would have cashed-in in such circumstances, and doubtless attracted accusations of soft runs. The new model Bell saves his runs for when they really matter ...

Trott shot
Jonathan Trott's remarkable appetite for runs against Australia continued with his third century in five Ashes Tests, and even on a day when the Aussie bowlers found a touch of assistance in the conditions, his technique and temperament could not be rattled by any of the men at Ponting's disposal. Aside from a Johnson lifter that spat at his gloves, and a tight run-out reprieve on 48, his only true moment of discomfort came in the 105th over, when he wafted a drive at Ben Hilfenhaus and inside-edged the ball straight onto the side of his knee. To a massive roar of approval from the success-starved Aussie crowd, Trott went down in the crease as if spanged by a crowbar, but after a lengthy bout of physio he resumed with only one aim in mind.

Tactical success
On a frustrating day for Ponting, a couple of things did go right. Ponting is often criticised for his tactics but he twice pulled the right rein with his bowling changes. Siddle was told to run in shortly after being involved in a Kevin Pietersen-inspired argument with Dar, and he collected Pietersen lbw in his first over back. Johnson came on in the same session and in his opening over tempted Collingwood to hook to Siddle at fine-leg. Not much went right for Ponting over the rest of the day.

Frugal figures
Siddle started the morning with two wickets and was almost impossible to get away until Pietersen broke free briefly. Pietersen collected a crisp straight drive for four the ball before flicking past midwicket for a second boundary, and then added a quick single. When Trott ran a three from the final ball Siddle had given up 13 runs in six deliveries, after allowing only 18 from his previous 16 overs. At the end of the day he had 3 for 58 from 26.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo and Peter English is the Australasia editor

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  • Rampravesh on December 28, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    But this time it is good for english team that Ricky has not been banned for 1 match otherwise who knows a new batsman who would have replaced Ricky could have made some runs. It is better to have out of form Ricky than unknow and fesh batman for english.

  • Gagan on December 27, 2010, 17:05 GMT

    A 40% of match fee fine? Thats a gentle rap on the knuckles! I can't understand why umpires and match refrees are so lenient with the Aussies... any other captain having a prolonged alteraction with an umpire, followed immediately with on with the player (Pieterson), and then with the other umpire would get a much more severe punishment ... 1 match ban or at least 100% of match fee. This just goes to show that the ICC needs a better quantitative way of judging the severity of an offence. Qualitative ways will only save certain players and punish others disproportionately!

  • John on December 27, 2010, 15:30 GMT

    Poor Punter. I really do feel for him, but outbursts like the one today are just not on. Poor guy needs to take a load off, maybe the calls for him to play just as a batsman are warranted, but at the moment he's not making enough runs to play as a batsman. Oh well, what can you expect when the selectors drop the best spinner in the country for no reason, then shuffle players around in the middle of the series like they're a stack of particularly disposable cards?

  • Stuart on December 27, 2010, 15:26 GMT

    I cant quite understand why everyone keeps ranting at the Aussie selectors...granted, they have made some mistakes...not picking Hauritz was a really dumb one...but otherwise, they have mostly gone for the obvious do you really think that there are uncapped batsmen out there somewhere who are better than Ponting, Clarke, etc...We do not have many quality players as of now...hopefully guys like Khwaja, Callum, Starc, etc will develop into class players...But without doubt, it will take a good few years for the Aussies to become a strong side again

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2010, 15:26 GMT

    Aleem Dar has to be the best contemporary umpire there is. I have been watching the Ashes from ball one and what he did took guts in the middle of all the heat. This has been an absolutely cracking series, and I am neither English nor Australian. A series like this and the current one in South Africa can only do the world of good for test cricket. As much as I love all forms of the game, test cricket will always be the truest expression of the sport.

  • Richard on December 27, 2010, 13:39 GMT

    Why not have every dismissal- indeed, every delivery- reviewed for legitimacy? Suppose it rains for the next three days and the 5th test comes down to the wire (9 wickets down in the fourth innings, scores even and it's Harris c. Prior b. Finn)- what then? Refer just in case? Or what about the wicket on the last ball of the 2011 ODI world cup- will that be sent upstairs?

    It is always good that a batsman is not given 'out' off a No Ball, but if Aleem Dar thought that Mitch's delivery was not legal, why did he not signal accordingly (it is not uncommon to see umpires signal No Ball before or as the ball reaches the batsman)? If Trott had shouldered arms, would the call still have gone upstairs? Friends, I believe there must be consistency- either the on-field umpires make every No Ball call on their own, or they make no No Ball calls on their own.

    I look forward to the beep-beep-beep of my fellow cricket lovers (whatever your team) backing their trucks through the gaps in my argument.

  • Pete on December 27, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    Australia, number one in the World? not this side of 2015! Time for a clear out, Ponting, Clarke, Johnson, Smith, Hughes you are the weakest links GOODBYE! Aussie need to start from the bottom and re build, thats what England have had to do and now its paying off.

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2010, 11:53 GMT

    I think the ponting effect caused the DAR effect .... I havent seen anything like this .... remember 2008 Sydney test against india ? Lee was a half a foot out side the popping crease, wicket fell and still no NO ball was given ....

  • mark on December 27, 2010, 11:48 GMT

    right decision but why doesn't the 3rd umpire have a quick look at all dimissals to ensure it a fair delivery? i know people will say we can't afford any more delays but will ensure all dismissals are from a legal delivery and; 2.maybe they umpire need to stop some of the the delays from the players these days.

  • Imran on December 27, 2010, 11:08 GMT

    aleem dar best umpire of the world

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