First-person reports from the stands

Australia v England, 4th Test, MCG, 3rd day

December 28, 2013

Mitch v KP

Jack Vittles

Mitchell Johnson gestures at Kevin Pietersen, Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 3rd day, December 28, 2013
Mitchell Johnson was all up in England's face once again © Getty Images
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Key performer
Unfortunately for us England fans it was that man again - Mitchell Johnson. His transformation from the butt of the Barmy Army's jokes to the spearhead of Australia's all-conquering bowling attack was complete on this sunny afternoon in Melbourne. Although it was Nathan Lyon who picked up five wickets today and broke the England middle order, it was Johnson's dismissal of Jonny Bairstow that really gave Australia the upper hand. Earlier in the day when Root took a suicidal single to mid-off and was run out via a direct hit from guess who…. Johnson again!

One thing I'd change about the day
A perfect day at the MCG, the sun was shining, the atmosphere was electric and wickets were tumbling. Unfortunately they were English wickets. If only we could have put on the performance the occasion deserved.

The interplay I enjoyed
There was only one match-up that I could possibly pick. KP v Mitch One ego versus another. It was a windy afternoon and Pietersen was often pulling away while Johnson was in his run-up because of debris on the pitch. After the fourth or fifth instance Johnson lost patience and hurled the ball at the slips. The crowd roared and Pietersen rose to the challenge as Johnson lost his rag. Words were clearly exchanged and the umpire had to step in. It didn't appear to affect Pietersen's batting but poor Bairstow bore the brunt of Johnson's anger and was dismissed as a consequence.

Player watch
Lyon bowled superbly today and was sent down just in front of us to fine leg after his spell to receive the adoration of the crowd. After acknowledging the crowd, Lyon saw a security guard holding a beach ball - one of many confiscated throughout the day. He had a brief conversation with the steward and then walked over and grabbed the beach ball and threw it back into the stands - as if he couldn't be any more loved by the Aussie fans today.

Shot of the day
On a day where runs were too hard to come by once again for England, Pietersen looked good for his 49. His best shot was a beautiful straight drive off the bowling of Johnson. He had just taken a wild swipe at the previous delivery but this shot was a thing of beauty and it really did feel like Pietersen was finding something approaching his best form.

Crowd meter
After the bumper crowds of days one and two, it was expected that day-three attendance would be down. But this was not the case. Over 65,000 poured into the 'G to watch Australia take charge of this game. The crowd was pretty quiet today, absorbed in the battle on the field, but it did come to life later in the day as the wind picked up. Due to the high winds there was a period in the evening session when five overs were bowled in about 30 minutes. We would have grown restless but the wind was keeping us occupied, to be honest. In the space of five minutes I had to dodge plastic cups, tissues, newspapers and hats. Most of these made their way on to the field much to the amusement of the fans.

Cricket Australia obviously decided that it was putting all its effort into the first two days' entertainment. The lunch interval consisted of local kids playing kwik cricket and then the tea interval had a game that involved a member of the crowd running around with a bat and then attempting to catch a ball while he was trying to steady himself. Hardly box-office.

Another great day of Ashes cricket, and it proved once again that you can never take this game for granted. England would have thought they were in control in mid-afternoon but as Johnson, the wind and the crowd ramped up the pressure, they crumbled and collapsed once again. Still a great day in Melbourne and the crowd was much better behaved today after too many were thrown out yesterday.

Marks out of ten
7. Loses one mark for England failing to turn up with the bat, one mark for the chilly winds (38 degrees, they said!) and one mark off for the annoyingly cocky Aussie I had to sit near!

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Jack Vittles is a 20-year-old aspiring cricket journalist currently studying history at Cardiff University. He is a fervent supporter of England and Somerset and spends his spare time taking tail-end wickets with filthy left-arm long hops. He blogs about cricket here.

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Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by alex on (December 29, 2013, 1:54 GMT)

nice piece... sorry your boys are not showing any fight...

now... it's time for your 'vittles' Jack :)

Want to do match reports for ESPNcricinfo? Here's your chance.



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