Brisbane: Australia shattered England’s batting with six wickets for nine runs in a stunning mid-afternoon spell before dismissing the visitors for 136 and taking a lead of 224 on Day II of the first Ashes Test, on Friday.
Openers David Warner (45) and Chris Rogers (15) backed up the bowlers by batting out a gloomy final session at the Gabba and will resume at 65 without loss in Australia’s second innings on Saturday.
Oft-pilloried paceman Mitchell Johnson led the way with four for 61 as Australia transformed their prospects in the match after a disappointing opening day at the Gabba and being bowled out for 295 in the first hour on Friday.
The revitalised left-arm quick was at his pacey, hostile best on a bouncy track and was ably supported by fellow paceman Ryan Harris (3/28) and spinner Nathan Lyon (2/17) as the hosts put themselves in a good position to win a first Test in 10 matches.
“You had to earn the right to have sessions like that and I thought we built the pressure quite well,” said wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, whose 94 kept Australia from a similarly dismal score in their first innings.
“We’ve got a long way to go in this Test, we’ve got to turn up on Saturday, we know England will keep coming, so it’s up to us to make sure we’re on.”
Despite the losses of captain Alastair Cook for 13 and Jonathan Trott for 10 before lunch, England looked to be making steady progress towards a reasonable score at 82 for two midway through the second session.
Haddin, though, said bowling coach Craig McDermott, returning for this series after quitting last year, had laid down the law to the bowlers at the lunch break.
“(He) told the bowlers in no uncertain terms where he wanted things to be and we came back after the break and got our lengths right,” he said.
The departure of Kevin Pietersen for 18, when he swatted the ball off his pads to George Bailey at midwicket to give Harris his second wicket, was the first hint of the carnage to come.
Emboldened by the dismissal of one of England’s most dangerous batsmen, Johnson and his fellow bowlers ran amok to leave the visitors facing an uphill task just to save the Test, let alone secure a first victory in Brisbane since 1986.
Opener Michael Carberry, who had crafted a careful 40 on his Ashes debut in his second Test, was next to head back to the pavilion when Johnson had him caught by Shane Watson at second slip.
Ian Bell, who scored three centuries in England’s 3-0 triumph on home soil earlier this year, followed quickly afterwards for five when Steve Smith snatched the ball out of the air at short leg.