Day Four Recap ... Never in doubt!
Upper hand: A day that could still have provided plenty of drama ended up becoming an exhibition thanks to Rogers and Watson's enterprise. Australia has flinched in the face of plenty of small targets in the past but never looked likely to falter here, even after Warner departed with the score at 64. England simply couldn't peg the batsmen down, and ended up reaching the 231 at a more-than-healthy 4.45 per over. Incredibly, given England led by 116 runs with all second innings wickets intact, it lost by eight wickets!
The key man: No question it was Chris Rogers, whose second Test century could not have come at a better time, the only downer that he wasn't there at the finish. Far from a dour hand most would have expected of him, Rogers kept the scoreboard ticking over, his 116 coming from only 155 deliveries with 13 fours. At 36, his time in Test cricket is limited, but you sense there's still plenty of runs left in the tank in the immediate future.
Big moment: Two chances missed within 10 minutes ensured England wasn't going to conjure a mircale win. Rogers edged Broad behind, but keeper Bairstow was flat-footed and Cook's despairing dive was too late. Only a couple of overs later, Warner edged Stokes straight to slip where Cook spilt one of the most straight-forward chances of the series. There was no coming back from there.
It all could have changed if ... See above!
Things went swimmingly for ... Shane Watson still cops plenty, but after breaking down on day one, he rebounded well, managing to eke out at least a few overs in England's second innings, and today helping Rogers steer his side home without any fuss at all, finishing on 83 not out.
Not so swimmingly for ... Alastair Cook. Had a horror day, dropping two catches, the second one an absolute sitter, and copped it far and wide for his negative captaincy, defensive field settings and failure to bowl No.1 spinner Monty Panesar until shortly before lunch. Will be facing a torrent of criticism from his own country's cricket mafia for the next few days, with calls for his head as skipper certain to come.
What does it all mean?: Australia can pull off another 5-0 whitewash, this win perhaps even more damaging to the English psyche than Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth given how far on top they appeared only midway through yesterday's play. It's been an appalling summer for the former Ashes holder, and a golden one for the home side!
And that's it for the Fourth Test. Rohan Connolly signing off here at blog central. Join us in Sydney for the Fifth Test starting on Friday to see if the Aussies can make it a clean sweep. See you then!
And Mitch Johnson is man of the match yet again! Must have been a narrow call ahead of Chris Rogers, but his devastating spells both on day one and yesterday and his sharp fielding which ran out Joe Root played a critical part in the win. Might as well give him the man of the series award now while they're at it!
Amazing win by the Aussies . Belief persistence great skills under pressure. Special 100 by Bucky Rogers. Well done #4nil #ashes — Damien Fleming (@bowlologist) December 29, 2013
AUSTRALIA wins by 8 wickets. (Watson 85 not out, Clarke 6 not out) Australia leads 4-0.
So it's all over halfway through the fourth day and Australia is triumphant again. Make sure you hang around for our post-game summary!
Last rites coming up! Four to win. Panesar the bowler, Watson on strike. A single, now Clarke gets the chance to hit the winning runs.No, another single. Watson, your turn ... And there it is! Slashes a four past mid-wicket and Australia wins by eight wickets after trailing by 51 runs on the first innings. What a performance!
Watson nearly holes out but it goes a mile in the air, over Anderson's head at cover, and he can't get there. That sort of series for England. And now Watson slogs a four over mid-off. Four more! Just five to win!
Boundary to Clarke brings up his 8000th Test run. Think he'll enjoy the next milestone in another 12 runs just as much!
Watson opening up now! Cuts Panesar for four then lofts him through mid-on for another, the straight drives for a third boundary in the over! Just 16 needed now. They're taking drinks. And while they do, Cook's captaincy is getting an absolute pasting from virtually every commentator at the ground, Australian and English both.
WICKET! Rogers goes, tries to cut Panesar and gets a little top edge through to Bairstow. And he walks off to a thunderous ovation, what a great hand in front of his adopted home crowd. His 116 lasted 155 balls with 13 fours.
Chris Rogers is given a standing ovation after being dismissed for 116. Photo: Justin McManus
And here's another winner, the MCG! Final crowd figure has been posted, 271,865 over four days, cementing Melbourne's reputation as a sporting mecca of the world! Panesar getting another bowl now. And the 200 comes up!
Four more to Rogers, yet another late cut off Stokes, takes him to his highest Test score! Now Australia moves to 199, and it's just a picnic, all semblance of pressure gone, England a very dispirited outfit indeed.
Chris Rogers. A great example of perseverance. And also why you pick your best eleven. Your age is irrelevant. — Adam White (@White_Adam) December 29, 2013
Amazing stuff today and yesterday. Remember, England led by 116 with all 10 second innings wickets intact, and Australia is a chance to end up winning by nine wickets! What a stunning turnaround!
And there's 50 for Watson! Cuts Bresnan through point for a boundary to bring it up. Partnership is worth 112. And another four! Watson belts Bresnan back over his head, they're toying with them now!
There it is! Beautiful cover drive for four takes Rogers to 102! Great ovation for him, it's been a wonderful knock off only 135 balls with 11 fours and it looks certain to take Australia to victory!
Chris Rogers celebrates on making his century. Photo: Pat Scala
Rogers takes Bresnan for a two and a three, and all of a sudden he's 98. Anderson comes back on trying to stop him getting the ton.
Bowling change already, Bresnan coming back on for Stokes after just two overs. Cook doesn't seem to have much faith in any of his bowlers at the moment. Rogers 93, just seven more required for his second Test century.
Four for Watson! Gets a thick edge from Broad along the ground through slips to the rope. And that's the 100 partnership up from just 130 balls. Great attacking stuff from these two, haven't allowed themselves to be pinned down all day.
Want to take over the captaincy as well, Piers? You seem like an expert on everything, really.
We should have won this Test easily. Now we're being humiliated again. Quite unbelievable capitulation. Cook looks utterly clueless. #Ashes— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) December 29, 2013
Four to Rogers! Another deft late cut backward of point races away to the rope. Takes a single to follow and he's almost into the 90s.
Rogers flicks Stokes away for a single and that brings up the 150. End of the over, Rogers on 84, Watson 42, 79 more required.
It's going to be Stokes from the other end, Rogers on strike. Real chance for 100 here, will want to knuckle down after that chance last over.
And runs straight away! Watson drives Broad through cover for three, target's down to 85. And another chance! Tough one, though. Rogers gets an edge, it's low but it gets past Bairstow's outstretched left hand!
Right. Set to go again here. It's going to be Shane Watson on strike, Stuart Broad to open proceedings in the second session. Let's go!
LUNCH: Australia 1/143 (Rogers 81 not out, Watson 36 not out)
That was interesting! Rogers edged Stokes into his pads, didn't know where it had gone, and nearly shook it on to the stumps! Would have been a dead ball, though, thankfully! And that will be lunch. Great session for Australia, they added 113, Rogers and Watson have put on 79 from only 104 balls. Australia needs 88 more. See you back here in 30 minutes or so!
Panesar's not doing the job here, too full, and allows Rogers and Watson a couple of threes and a couple of twos. Ten runs from the over, just one before lunch, and Stokes coming back on to bowl it.
Well, Cricket Australia reckons it's all over! ...
A couple of overs before lunch, and England looking a bit hangdog here. Broad went for six runs that over, and Watson's four was followed by a sloppy piece of fielding which allowed him another two. Just 99 to go, nine wickets in hand.
Crash! That's another boundary for Watson, wide one from Broad, and Watto cuts him imperiously to the fence at point. He's on to 30, and the target's nearly under 100.
Broad coming back now, and not a moment too soon. Australia sailing along, the run rate at four per over. England has to at least keep the pressure on for a while by keeping the scoreboard static.
And finally, Pansear comes on, just 25 minutes before lunch. Can he produce the goods where his peers haven't been able to?
There's the 50 partnership for Rogers and Watson, and in very healthy time, too, just 63 balls. Rogers nudges Root, who's on again, down to fine leg, and the target continues to shrink, just 113 needed now.
We've heard plenty, far too much in my view, about Piers Morgan's taking on Brett Lee in the nets the other day. But Sir Richard Hadlee has an interesting view on it.
Watson looking in much better nick now, timing is coming back and he's more prepared to force the issue. Another couple off Anderson takes him into the 20s.
Stuart Broad has only bowled two overs today and created a chance. Monty Panesar hasn't bowled at all in 90 minutes of play. Odd. — Adam White (@White_Adam) December 29, 2013
And plenty of questions being asked as to why Cook is yet to bowl Panesar this morning. Fair enough, too, given Bresnan's lack of penetration and the fact even Root has been given three overs. Is he injured or does Cook simply not have much faith in him?
Now Watson's in on the act! Leans forward to Bresnan and straight drives him past the diving mid-off for four! Then repeats the dose past point for another boundary. This partnership is already worth 46, and the target is rapidly shrinking, 121 needed.
Beautiful pull from Rogers, that's the shot of the day! Short and wide outside off stump from Anderson, and Rogers blasts it to the square leg boundary! That's the 100 up for Australia, another 129 runs required.
Ohh, that was nearly out! Watson pulls Bresnan, off the glove and it flies just over Bairstow's head for four runs! Not looking overly comfortable, Watto, but he's into double figures now.
Another late cut by Rogers for four, glides it down to the vacant third-man position, that's his eighth boundary!
Anderson back into the attack now, Watson on strike. Lot of nerves around still, on both sides of the fence!
Great shot Rogers! Just dabs Bresnan down through gully and it races down to the boundary for another four. They're taking drinks, Australia 1/85, Rogers on 55, Watson 4, and another 146 required.
Rogers always hard to get out early, especially so at MCG this season: 36, 42, 88, 117 in Shield, now 61 and 51* in Test. #ashes #barnacle — Jesse Hogan (@Jesse_Hogan) December 29, 2013
And that's 50 for Rogers, his fourth this series! Got an inside edge down to the fence then pushed a two. Still some scepticism about him but he's got plenty of starts and is leading the way again here.
Chris Rogers acknowledges his half-century. Photo: Pat Scala
Bowling change. Tim Bresnan coming on for Root, would want to threaten more than he has so far this series. Australia 1/70.
Bowling well here, Ben Stokes. Gets one to duck back into new batsman Shane Watson off the seam, and he gets an inside edge on to his pad and up in the air. Things have tightened up, this will be a good test of Watson's mettle.
WICKET! Or maybe not! Short and wide, Warner tried to go up and under, but only succeeded in top edging Stokes straight to Bairstow, who has no choice but to go for this one! Well, how was that for a jinx? Won't say that again!
Alastair Cook, Jonny Bairstow and Ian Bell celebrate the dismissal of David Warner. Photo: Getty Images
Four! Lovely late cut from Warner off Stokes, races down to the boundary. You sense Warner's going to make them pay for that dropped chance, score is up to 0/64 and the target now 167.
I'm loving this typical Aussie tactic of ' going after' the opposition captain - just never seen it before when he is standing at 1st slip — Liam Pickering (@lennyp23) December 28, 2013
Cook desperate for a breakthrough now with the score up to 0/53, pulls a major surprise. It's spin, but not the No.1 man Monty Panesar, but part-timer Joe Root. This could be inspired, or it could very costly indeed!
Alastair Cook drops David Warner at first slip. Photo: AP
CHANCE! Another dropped catch! And you CAN blame Cook for this one! Warner edged Stokes straight to him at first slip, his hands were in perfect position, and it just bounced straight off his palms! England don't seem to want to win this!
Broad still brooding about that chance, and rightly so, was definitely Bairstow's chance behind the stumps, a replica of what happened in Perth with Matt Prior and Cook. Broad taken off now, too, and Ben Stokes is on to replace him.
England needs a new fielding position: 0.5 slip. #ashes — Greg Baum (@GregBaum) December 28, 2013
CHANCE! Goes down! Broad gets a big edge from Rogers, and the keeper Bairstow doesn't go for it! Cook at first slip had to go late, got a hand to it, but it skittles away for four. What a let-off for Rogers! Now he responds by top-edging Broad over the top of slips for another four, nearly a six! Eleven from the over, costly one for England!
Warner keeps the scoreboard ticking over, punches Broad back past the bowler for a couple more runs, then another single to backward point.
Rogers gets his first runs of the day now, pushes Anderson off his hip for a single. Warner works it square and another single. That's the over, Australia 0/36, 195 more runs required.
Warner plays a couple from Broad, tries to force him through covers, but cut off. Broad's line good so far, not much opportunity to score. And then he gets one through! Uppish little drive but it went through point and all the way to the rope. Target's under 200 now.
And that's the first over, a maiden. Rogers plays it very safely, looked solid. Now it's going to be Stuart Broad from the Members' end to Dave Warner. Can he work some magic, a la Durham in the English summer?
And we're set to start. Chris Rogers on strike, Jimmy Anderson to bowl, 201 needed. Play ball!
There will be a lot of Australian supporters nervous today despite what looks like a very gettable tally given our history of falling short in last-innings run chases. But one thing is certain, we're going to have a result today, and no fifth day. Weather today is good, and a lot milder than yesterday with a forecast top of 20 degrees. And while we're waiting, have a read of Geoff Lawson's piece today about Australia perhaps needing to give its quicks a rest.
Good morning all, Rohan Connolly here at blog central to take you through the fourth day's play in the Fourth Test at the MCG. A great day for Australia yesterday, with Nathan Lyon skittling the English line-up with five wickets, and an amazing late-order collapse of 5/6 leaving Australia with just 201 runs for victory today and all 10 wickets intact.
Day Three Recap ... Lyon's roar
Upper hand: Australia once again, though you wouldn't have believed it when England was 0/65 with a lead already of 116. But Cook's dismissal sparked an almost unbelievable procession of wickets, England then losing 10/114, including its last five wickets for just six runs. To rub further salt into the wound, Australia made it through to stumps not only with all wickets intact, but having shaved the victory target of 231 by 30 runs. There'll still be some nerves should a spate of wickets fall, but there still appears to be few gremlins in this pitch, and Australia must be confident of a stronger batting performance than first dig.
The key man: No doubt about it on day three, Nathan Lyon. The off-spinner took his 100th Test wicket and his first five-wicket haul in Australia and ripped the heart out of the England batting order to take Australia from looking a dispirited unit when Alastair Cook made batting look easy to the brink of victory. His 5/50 from 17 overs was a sensational performance and he's booked his spot in this team for some time to come.
Big moment: England still looked in pretty good position when Michael Carberry was dismissed, but just three balls later, Joe Root set for a very risky single, pushing Lyon to mid-off, only for Mitch Johnson to pick-up and throw down the stumps at the bowlers end with Root at least a metre short of his ground. That made it 3/86, and England's innings would descend into chaos thereafter.
It all could have changed if ... Root had have been a little more circumspect about judging a run. While Carberry had crawled before his dismissal, their batsmen hadn't looked in any particular danger, and another 30 or 40 runs without loss would have just about broken Australia's back.
Things went swimmingly for ... This was Lyon's day. His 100th Test wicket is a significant landmark, and his performance all series has been spot-on. Finally, the long-running debate about a successor to Shane Warne's throne as Australia's Test spinner has been definitively settled.
Not so swimmingly for ... Tim Bresnan. The England bowler and lower-order bat has been a big disappointment out here, his bowling failing to penetrate, much less intimidate, and his batting not looking anything like the pseudo all-rounder he's been cast as in recent years. His misjudged pull shot off Lyon looked like the stuff of a No.11, not a No. 8.
What does it all mean?: Australia has had its issues chasing down smallish targets over the years, but it did chase down more than 300 in South Africa just over two years ago, and the start of Rogers and Warner in the last few overs would give Clarke and his men further encouragement. One thing is for sure, this game will be decided on day four one way or the other.