With both teams having won one game each in the series the fourth test at Melbourne was a vital test in the series. The first session of the fourth test would set the scene for the remainder of the test match. Could England wrestle back the momentum or will Australia continue where they left off in Perth?
With cloud cover and a grass covered pitch England needed to make use of the conditions first up as the new ball was crucial. England started extremely well bowling tight lines and making Watson and Hughes play at most deliveries. They carved open two chances to send Watson back to the pavilion but both were dropped. Collingwood dropped a tough chance a 3rd slip and Pietersen dropped a chance which should of been taken a gully.
Although the chances had gone down England were still creating chances and it was only a matter of time before they took their first wicket. Tremlett bowled a beauty which found a bit of extra bounce to Watson who could only get the shoulder of the bat on the ball and it popped up to Pietersen at gully.
Hughes lived dangerously playing every shot in the book as he came out attacking however one shot too many as Bresnan replaced Anderson and got the breakthrough immediately as Hughes sliced a shot to Pietersen at gully to leave Australia 37 – 2.
Tremlett continued to bowl well and produced an excellent delivery to Ponting who could only edge to Swann who dived in front of Strauss at first slip to take an excellent catch leaving Australia 37 – 3. The frail Australian batting line up looked to be wobbling once again, if England could send Hussey back cheaply it could be England’s day.
Hussey and Clarke came together and began to look more assured at the crease playing some nice shots through the cover region. Strauss changed the bowlers around again with Anderson coming back into the attack for Tremlett. With only his 4th delivery of the spell Anderson produced a beauty with took the edge of Hussey’s bat as Prior took a comfortable catch leaving Australia 58 – 2. England went wild as they knew this was the key wicket.
An early lunch was taken due to a shower. Play was delayed by an additional half an hour after lunch but the players soon returned to the action. With England only 2 more wickets away from the tail they will fancy rolling Australia out cheaply. Australia however need another batsman to stand up and show some fight.
England continued to bowl beautifully creating chance after chance. The Australian’s appeared to have no answers as they continued to play loose shots outside the off stump. This was to be their downfall as England continued to take wickets with Smith, Clarke, Haddin and Johnson all being sent back to the pavilion with quick succession.
James Anderson now had 4 wickets and became the leading wicket taker in the series. Prior took another 3 catches behind the stumps to take his tally for the match up to 4. Australia were now in total disarray at 77 – 8.
This is not the first time this batting line up has failed as they were bowled out very cheaply against Pakistan in England during the summer. Any chance of the revival was now down to the bowlers.
Siddle managed to get to double figures before Tremlett returned to send him on his way, he also sent Hilfenhaus back without scoring as England wrapped up the Australian innings for just 98 runs. This is the lowest total for Australia against England at Melbourne.
Anderson and Tremlett were the pick of the bowlers both taking 4 wickets however Bresnan played his part keeping things tight by taking 2 wickets and bowling 6 maiden in his 13 overs. Wicketkeeper Matt Prior ended up with 6 catches commanding England’s fielding performance well.
England now had the final session to bat up to the close on day 1. The sun was beginning to shine as England called for the heavy roller in an attempt to deaden the pitch. If England bat well they will be ahead in the game by the end of close of day 1.
Strauss and Cook came out in positive fashion dismissing the Australian bowlers one by one. The Australian bowlers failed to get the ball to move off the straight as England made light work of batting.
England scored off the loose delivery and left the ball much better than the Australian batsman who fended outside off stump. Ricky Ponting changed his bowlers around however failed to make a breakthrough.
Mitchell Johnson returned to his old ways spraying the ball around including a delivery so wide it went straight to the boundary boarding for 4 runs. Strauss and Cook both went to their half centuries with the only scare coming against Cook as he was wrapped on the pads.
He was given out but Cook instantly reviewed the decision as he got an inside edge and therefore the decision was overturned. England went to the close on 157 – 0, 59 runs ahead of Australia’s first innings total with all their wickets still remaining.
This has to be one of England’s most dominant displays in an Ashes series down under as they blew the Australian’s away then batted with ease to get ahead in the game.