Australia fail to ward off struggle-bug

Hosts recover to post 268 in third Test after top-order failure.


Afp December 16, 2010

PERTH:


Australia face an uphill battle to regain the Ashes after another top-order collapse on the first day of the crucial third Test at the WACA in Perth.

England, who will retain the Ashes with victory in this match, won an important toss and reduced the hosts to 69 for five after sending them in to bat on a greenish pitch, before Australia’s tail wagged to take them to a modestly competitive total of 268.

In reply, England edged safely to 29 without losing any wickets at stumps, with Alastair Cook on 17 and captain Andrew Strauss on 12.

Tremlett excels as replacement

English fast-bowler Chris Tremlett, who replaced injured Stuart Broad in the team and excelled with three for 63, said the English were perfectly placed in the match, especially after the openers lasted until stumps.

“It was a great last half an hour, the guys fought hard there to see off the new ball, which is key,” he said. “We’ll look to bat time and get a healthy lead. We did bowl well with the new ball and get a couple of early scalps, but a couple of their guys batted well and the wicket did flatten out and the ball did get a bit softer,” he said. “If we had got that score at the start of the day, we’d have been happy with that.”

Early woes for the hosts

Recalled opener Phil Hughes (two), embattled skipper Ricky Ponting (12), struggling deputy Michael Clarke (four) and new number six Steven Smith (seven) were among the casualties as Australia’s top-order produced its second first-innings collapse in as many Tests.

Veteran Mike Hussey again led the fightback with 61, before Brad Haddin (53), recalled Mitchell Johnson (62) and Peter Siddle (35*) added some much-needed respectability to the score with some enterprising stroke play.

Hughes lasted just six balls on his return to the Test arena, clean bowled by Tremlett. A stunning one-handed catch from Paul Collingwood off the bowling of James Anderson (three for 61) had Ponting’s woes deepening as he headed back to the pavilion. With the hosts limping at 28 for two, vice-captain Clarke was next to go, caught behind by wicket-keeper Matt Prior off Tremlett, before Shane Watson was trapped leg-before by Steve Finn for 13 as Australia slumped to 36 for four, having also been 2-3 in Adelaide.

Hussey stays positive

Hussey said he did not believe the Australian total was as poor as it appeared.

“I don’t think it is as below par as some people think,” he said. “I have played in quite a few Test matches here where the first innings totals have been in the mid 200s.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2010.

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