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England turn tables as batsmen choke

Steve Smith hangs his head after being dismissed.

Steve Smith hangs his head after being dismissed. Photo: Getty Images

England have finally made Australia bleed.

It was just a trickle, from the temple of Australian opener Chris Rogers, but it was enough to symbolise a change of fortunes as the new owners of the Ashes performed their best imitation of England on an attritional afternoon at the MCG.

Boxing Day Test MCG  ,  Tim Bresnan is dismissed by Mitchell Johnson Friday the 27th of December 2013 Click for more photos

England vs Australia: Day 2 of the Ashes

Melbourne hosts another bumper day of record crowd numbers at the MCG for Day 2 of the fourth Ashes Test. Photo: Pat Scala

England's batsmen have never been far from harm when Mitchell Johnson has had the ball in his hand, and he wrapped up England's first innings for 255 with one of his most frightening spells on the second morning of the Boxing Day Test.

But then, having surrendered the urn in Perth after 14 days of cricket, the tourists finally did to the Australians what the Australians have done to them for much of the series, and waited for the mistakes to come.

The home side struggled to 9-164 at stumps on day two, trailing by 91 runs. And the Australian quicks will have to repeat their heroic efforts from the first three Tests in 38-degree heat on Saturday.

Chris Rogers cuts one at the MCG.

Chris Rogers cuts one at the MCG. Photo: Pat Scala

Having drawn blood from Rogers, the English dried up the Australians' runs on a slow drop-in pitch, and seized control of a Test for the first time in the series. "England are on top. We've had our worst day of the series," Rogers said. "But that happens. We're up against it but there's a lot of game to go and we have to fight well for the rest of it."

Rogers was struck as he tried to duck under a Stuart Broad bouncer on 16. The impact jammed his helmet into the side of his head, leaving him stunned as the team doctor patched him up with sticking plaster. "The helmet did its job this time," Rogers said later. "It was a bit of a scare but it's not too bad. He was bowling quite quick there. It can happen. He's a tall guy so if you slightly misjudge it you've only got fractions of a second. He bowled it in the right area and I misjudged it."

Rogers wore four different helmets during his innings of 61 in 171 balls. With a series average of 31 and no centuries, Rogers has spoken of the pressure on his Test spot and this was a situation made for his barnacle-like skills in front of a massive home-state crowd.

But he and several other batsmen fell to a plan from the Australian playbook: stop the runs and the wickets will come. Having hung on for more than two hours, Rogers lost patience and was caught trying to loft Tim Bresnan down the ground.

"England bowled very well and we got bogged down," Rogers said. "We probably looked for a release. They forced us into mistakes. A Boxing Day Test hundred, it wouldn't get much better than that so it's frustrating. . . . It was probably my turn today and that is probably what I'm most disappointed with."

Broad's bouncer to wound Rogers was not the only blow landed by England. Michael Clarke shouldered arms to Jimmy Anderson and watched the ball seam back into his stumps for 10. Shane Watson, perhaps hampered by his sore groin, did not move his feet and was caught behind playing a loose drive to Ben Stokes. And Broad silenced the taunts from the grandstands by teasing Steve Smith into a swish outside off, the catch taken at bullet-like speed by Ian Bell in the slips.

Broad, bowling on a sore foot, was the best of the England quicks with 3-30 from 16.3 overs, while Anderson regained his spark. But no spell was as hostile as Johnson's with the second new ball, which produced 5-18 in nine overs, broken by a night's sleep.

Anderson said Broad was taking painkillers for his foot, which was badly bruised by Johnson at the WACA Ground.

"He's being a brave little soldier . . . Thankfully, he's fit enough to play," said Anderson, adding he has no intention of following Graeme Swann into retirement yet. "I'd like to carry on playing a while. Just because Graeme's gone . . . I have got other friends in the team. It's been a disappointing tour but I know we've got a lot more to show people and I want to be a part of that.

"[Swann] was a big character in the dressing room but there are other big characters in there. As harsh as it sounds, he's a good friend, but we've got to move on."

 

11 comments so far

  • This could make it 4-3 to England in the 2013 Cricket Challenge if they bbq the aussies on the field tomorrow and then skittle them for less than 200 again 2nd time round.

    Commenter
    pataey
    Date and time
    December 27, 2013, 11:08PM
    • You need an opener with a long future ahead of him, not one with a bucket list. Get rid of Rogers, Watson, Smith and Bailey ASAP and bring in young talent. This farce is not a rebuild, its a patch up job. Having been used to watching Waugh's team, this is so painful to watch. You can borrow Kane Williamson from us for a year or two if you want, considering you don't have any good upcoming batsmen

      Commenter
      Ray
      Location
      Auckland
      Date and time
      December 28, 2013, 1:56AM
      • The English have finally had one good innings...or should I say Australia have had one bad innings in this series. There is still the 2nd half to go and if I was a betting man I'd say it will be 4-0 to Australia. Thanks for coming.

        Commenter
        Shakerd
        Location
        Park City
        Date and time
        December 28, 2013, 2:29AM
        • Poor batting from Aussies shows how fragile we can be . Bailey has to be dropped - not Test standard. Aussies look like one innings wonders in this series, except for Haddin who has saved us before. We might have the urn but this Aussie batting side is not top class because they lack consistent strong performances.

          Commenter
          Lighthouse
          Date and time
          December 28, 2013, 6:22AM
          • England have to do a lot more than bowl well for one day to salvage any pride from this series.

            Commenter
            BillH
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            December 28, 2013, 7:43AM
            • Three tests and our blokes played like real cricketers and then in Melbourne they go back to playing 20/20.
              No guys, just because the team has won the Ashes it is no excuse to go back to trying to hit a six off every bowled at you.
              Come on "Boof "kick some arse and get them to refocus on Test Cricket.

              Commenter
              srg
              Location
              nambucca heads
              Date and time
              December 28, 2013, 7:55AM
              • a tough innings for Aus but one that had to be had for the benefit of the ashes series in my view. great respect shown by the aussie batsmen in their comments as well.... who said we were unsportsmanlike??!

                Commenter
                sammo
                Location
                port macquarie
                Date and time
                December 28, 2013, 8:21AM
                • How long can Watson be picked when he so regularly fails? Great short-form player, laqcks Test commitment and stamina.
                  George Bailey - the folly of picking a player for Test cricket based on 1 day / T20 form. Time to end this mistake.

                  Generally the Aussie batsmen didn't adjust their style to suit a slower pitch and showed no Plan B (ie patience) and thinking on a pitch that demanded some concentration and a tempering of the all-out attack mode of batting (take note D Warner).

                  Commenter
                  Big Bird
                  Location
                  Wollongong
                  Date and time
                  December 28, 2013, 8:54AM
                  • Australia's top six is a pretty brittle (and too often, an immature) batting outfit and have been saved on too many occasions by the tail-enders - a situation too good to last for a whole series.

                    It's time to try out other younger players; to do otherwise will be shown up in spades against South Africa's bowling outfit.

                    Commenter
                    Dave Salter
                    Date and time
                    December 28, 2013, 9:14AM
                    • Fix the batting line-up? The selectors have shown that they have some pets and until they get over that issue the batting line-up will stay. Pets like Bailey, Warner and Watson are undoubtedly very, very good at T20 but they are simply not up to the task of consistency at Test level where it's either feast or famine. Certainly don't ask them to show a little focus and dedication when times are tough because their mental powers are just not up to it. How many times is it now that Watson's been out chasing balls that simply don't need to be chased when he should have been focussed on survival after Warner got "flash Harry'd out"?. Bailey has NEVER been a Test cricketer.Pick them for T20 but not for Tests. Instead the selectors should pick younger blokes and stick with them rather than, as they have with Khawaja and Hughes, putting young blokes under pressure by picking-dropping-picking-dropping. All that does is guarantee failure.

                      Commenter
                      Long Xuyen
                      Location
                      Viet Nam
                      Date and time
                      December 28, 2013, 10:40AM

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