England resume Day 3 in commanding position knowing that a good day here could well see them retain the Ashes. Starting the day 346 runs ahead the plan is likely to have been score as many as you can as quickly as you can.
Trott and Prior got proceedings off to a good start with Prior in particular looking to attack the bowling. He reached 85 before he spooned a simple chance back to Ricky Ponting at mid-on.
England’s batting was slightly stronger than the Perth test with Tim Bresnan due in next. Trott just continued to play as he had done throughout his innings and knocked the ball about at will.
An unfortunate injury to Australian bowler Ryan Harris as he ran in to bowl to Jonathan Trott meant he was unable to bowl for the remainder of the innings. He is also unlikely to feature in the fifth and final Ashes test after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the ankle.
Bresnan could only manage 4 runs before Siddle took his 5th wicket to get his name on the honors board at the MCG, his home ground. Swann then joined Trott who had now gone to 151. With an average of 69 Jonathan Trott really has dissolved England’s number 3 problem and become an important cog in England’s team.
Swann was in no mood to hang around and went to 22 from 28 balls before toe ending a short ball through to Brad Haddin off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus. Tremlett and Anderson only managed 5 between them as Trott was left on 168 not out. Peter Siddle was the pick of the Australian bowlers taking 6 for 75 from 33.1 overs.
With England loosing their final wicket in the lead up to lunch an early lunch was taken as England prepared themselves to take 10 Australian wickets and retain the Ashes for the first time down under since 1985/86.
When England began to bowl the wicket looked very flat and Australia got away to a blistering start. Watson and Hughes were both playing their shots and looked very comfortable doing so with England unable to get any sideways movement.
England were given a gift on 53 when Watson pushed the ball into the covers and hesitantly set off for a single. His hesitancy meant partner Phil Hughes was slow off the mark as Jonathan Trott swopped to pick up and throw to wicketkeeper Matt Prior who whipped the bails off. Australia were 53 – 1 with England requiring a further 9 wickets.
After Australia’s quick start England began to peg the run rate back and build pressure as Ponting and Watson were made to work very hard for their runs. As the ball got older it became more abrasive and started to reverse swing.
With Anderson and Bresnan bowling together batting was becoming more difficult as the ball was beginning to swing more and more. Australia survived to tea without anymore casualties.
The wickets that were threatened before tea fell soon after. Tim Bresnan provided the game-breaking spell, picking up three wickets for two runs in 18 balls. And as those three wickets were Shane Watson and Mike Hussey – Australia’s two most reliable runscorers in this series – and the still-vital scalp of Ricky Ponting, you’d have to say his inclusion in the side here has been justified.
Australia were therefore left on 104 – 4 after being 98 – 1. Graeme Swann then added to Australia’s misery as he chipped in with the wicket of Michael Clarke, smartly caught at second slip by Andrew Strauss, and James Anderson bowled the enterprising Steve Smith before the close leaving Australia 169 – 6.
With Australia trailing by a further 246 runs and England requiring just a further 3 wickets due to the injury to Ryan Harris an England victory is likely to happen before lunch on Day 4.