The Ashes – Third Test
Good morning and welcome from the WACA here in Perth, where England have enjoyed another brilliant opening session as they look to retain the Ashes with two Tests to spare.
Chris Tremlett has proved the star of the morning for England, taking two wickets for 19 on his recall to leave Ricky Ponting’s side in utter disarray at 65 for four at lunch.
The other highlight came in a stunning catch by Paul Collingwood at third slip off the bowling of James Anderson that saw Ponting depart for 12 and continue his miserable run.
Their hopes now seem to rest with local boy Mike Hussey, who is 28 not out at lunch, including a six.
The Barmy Army (balmy too in the 30 degree heat) have turned the ground into an Edgbaston or Headingley on tour and I have already seen an Australian fan ejected after it all proved too much.
How things have changed in four years, the Australians I have met so far are pining for the stars of that side and there was even a ludicrous call for Shane Warne to make a return. Maybe it was Liz Hurley’s idea.
Anyhow if there’s anyone up watching back in Ireland, drop us a line, I’ll be following the series until its conclusion in Sydney, although the Ashes themselves may be well and truly decided by then.
Australia 179-6 (M Hussey 61, B Haddin 52no, M Johnson 25no; C Tremlett 3-41).
Well Australia’s session then, adding 114 runs for the loss of two wickets and Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson looking to play their shots in a vital seventh-wicket partnership of 42.
Swann, bowling from the Swan River end, claimed the vital wicket of Hussey for 61 after umpire Billy Doctrove failed to spot an edge through to Matt Prior. The wicketkeeper instantly appealed and the review showed a slight nick on the bat.
Tremlett, playing his first Test for over three years, took the other wicket to fall in the session, with Andrew Strauss taking the catch in the slips.
Swann will be the key in this session, just as Haddin will be for the Aussies. Swann has little or no breeze to play with as the famed Fremantle Doctor breeze has failed to materialise to cool down a baking crowd.
If Australia can have a similar session to the last then they will end the day a lot happier than they started.
Stumps – Day 1
England 29-0 trail Australia 268 (M Johnson 62, M Hussey 61, B Haddin 53; J Anderson 3-61, C Tremlett 3-63, G Swann 2-52, S Finn 2-86) by 239 runs.
Yet again another exhilarating opening day to an Ashes Test and yet again one that ends with England on top and with their goal of retaining the little urn with two games to spare a real possibility.
The tourists closed on 29 without loss on a sweltering hot day in Perth, trailing by 239 runs but in a strong position to push on to a sizeable first-innings lead on a wicket that has few demons under its slightly green-tinged top.
It could have been even better for Strauss’s side, who had the home side rattling on 69 for five before Hussey and Haddin came to their rescue yet again.
But there was to be no repeat of their 300-run stand during the first Test in Brisbane, with Hussey making 61 and Haddin 53. Amazingly the duo have contributed over half of Australia’s runs in the five innings to date.
They were to be outdone by the returning Mitchell Johnson, the Western Australia player making an enterprising 62 off 83 balls, including eight fours and a six. Peter Siddle also got in on the act late on, hitting 35 as they pushed their score out to 268.
Tremlett proved the hero with the ball, using all his 6ft 8in frame to extract whatever bounce and some movement from the pitch, to claim three wickets.
Anderson also grabbed three, showing little sign of the return trip he made to England to be at the birth of his baby daughter, although he pulled up late on with cramp on a day when the mercury topped 34 Celsius.
Australia knew they needed to make a breakthrough in the last 12 overs of the day, but Strauss and Alastair Cook held their nerve to put England in the box seat heading in to day two.
Join me then for more updates from the WACA as England look to press home that dominance. Or do the Aussies have one last card to play.