England dominate woeful Aussies
MELBOURNE: England put themselves in a remarkably dominant position after day one of the fourth Ashes Test having bowled out Australia for just 98 in Melbourne.
Chris Tremlett and James Anderson swung the ball beautifully to take four wickets each after captain Andrew Strauss had won an important toss. Australia showed poor technique to contribute to their demise. And they were made to pay when Strauss and Alastair Cook pushed England along to a very healthy 157-0 in reply.
Having lost by 267 runs on a much faster wicket in Perth to relinquish their 1-0 series lead, England's flawless performance on Boxing Day with bat and ball defied logic.
They have already put Australia, who recorded their lowest all-out total in an Ashes Test at the MCG, in a situation where defeat is a probability.
In Australia's mitigation was the fact that cool, cloudy conditions up until tea had turned the early exchanges into something more akin to a May Test match in England, with bowlers able to extract swing and seam movement.
With propitious timing for the tourists, the clouds melted away as Strauss - who ended the day on 64 - and Cook (80) strode to the crease. And barring one or two early deliveries from Ben Hilfenhaus the ball did not swing for the Australians. Australia entered this critical match with only three batsmen in any sort of form. Mike Hussey had made an extraordinary 517 in the first three Tests, while Shane Watson and Brad Haddin had also produced some key performances.
This time, however, with England's three seamers locating a searching length from the off - and finding swing consistently, those three all failed. Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting were due runs, but managed only 20 and 10 respectively, while Phillip Hughes and Steve Smith do not appear to possess the necessary techniques for swing-friendly conditions. Such was the onesidedness of the early exchanges, that England could afford to drop Watson twice before he had scored - Paul Collingwood at third slip and Kevin Pietersen in the gully were the culprits.
Anderson was the unlucky bowler on those two occasions, but it was Tremlett who supplied the first wicket, Watson getting a nasty one that bounced up to an uncomfortable height - and gloving to Pietersen. Despite his double let-off, Watson had made only five. There was another catch for Pietersen in gully when Hughes, craving anything wide outside off, flashed at one that he should have left to give Bresnan a wicket with his seventh ball in an Ashes contest. -Ap