Leeds: Australia have surrendered a good position set up by David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne, collapsing on the first afternoon of the third Test as a rampant Jofra Archer seized the ascendancy for England at Headingley.
Warner (61) and Labuschagne (74) negotiated treacherous seam and overhead conditions tailor-made for bowlers as they attempted to cover for the absence of Steve Smith, but the gloss was taken right off their 111-run stand as Australia lost 8-43 to be all out for 179 at the close.
The decision by England captain Joe Root to bowl first was justified and he will fancy his own batsmen's chances on Friday, with the forecast of a clear and warm day that should be less testing for batsmen than Thursday.
On a weather-affected first day, Archer (6-45) and Stuart Broad (2-32) rose to the occasion - the boom England fast bowler completing his first five-wicket haul in his second Test.
"That's incredible Test bowling," Warner said. "Joe won the toss and looked upstairs and wanted to bowl and they used that very well. They put the ball in the right areas.
"Our top order, we all got good balls. Two strangles, which happens. We always knew that partnership with me and Marnus [was important], that's how cricket goes, you're going to lose one straight away, if not the next five overs. But if you get through that, as a new batter, it can get a lot easier. That's the beauty of this game. It's hard to start, especially when you have two world-class bowlers coming on who are hitting their line and length impeccably."
Australia were 2-136 but the exit of Warner triggered a flurry of wickets, leaving Australia in deep trouble. Labuschagne, who had filled in so admirably as a concussion substitute for Smith on the last day at Lord's, produced another determined knock - and had to grit his teeth when he copped an excruciating blow to the groin area from a Broad delivery late in the day.
A maiden Test hundred was in range despite partners deserting him, but with seven minutes of play left he also departed and in bizarre circumstances, missing a straight full toss from Ben Stokes and being found leg-before.
Beyond Warner and Labuschagne the only other player to reach double figures was captain Tim Paine, with 11.
"We've got to come out tomorrow and hit the right lines and lengths. I think the weather is quite hot, it could dry the wicket out a lot," Warner said. "It's a fast scoring outfield so we have to hit the right line and length and try to shut the scoreboard down.
"For us it is about discipline. They had the right phase today, they had the conditions in their favour but they put the ball in the right spot all the time so that's the challenge."
The former vice-captain blew off the cobwebs of a poor start to the Ashes, although fortune was a factor.
Before he was even off the mark he played and missed five times in a row to the excellent Broad (2-32), who seamed the ball away from him prodigiously from around the wicket. In all, of the first 26 deliveries he faced, the ball flashed past his outside edge 11 times, the five slips positioned by Root not getting the catch they must have thought was inevitable.
Warner lost new opening partner Marcus Harris for eight when batting was at its most challenging, with the Victoria opener nicking an Archer gem on the last ball before the first rain interruption of the day. Then amid another Broad masterclass after the resumption Usman Khawaja was out for the same score, although it was one of the veteran paceman's worst balls that delivered an unlikely result as the Australia No.3 was strangled down the leg side.
Warner and Labuschagne did not seem upset to jog off when rain intervened again in mid-afternoon after only 14.5 overs, such was the difficulty of facing Broad and Archer with the ball nipping around under heavy cloud cover. They also weren't perturbed when bad light stopped play just before 4pm local time despite the floodlights being on, an umpires' decision that angered Root's men and the crowd.
The Australian pair compounded the frustration of England when the light was judged to have improved and play re-started again 30 minutes later, putting the foot down with 77 runs in the 12 overs that followed as the momentum shifted and Chris Woakes and Stokes were taken to the cleaners.
It took the exit of Warner for England to put the brakes on Australia. He was given out caught behind to Broad on 61 by umpire Chris Gaffaney but immediately reviewed the call and had it overturned as Ultra Edge found no evidence of contact between bat and ball. In the next over there was no mistake, though, as Archer finally located the edge with the fastest ball of the day, recorded at nearly 145km/h.
Archer had not been as frightening a proposition for the batsmen as he had been in his staggering debut at Lord's, bowling mostly fuller and slower to suit the venue, but no less effectively. The speed gun generally had not been dialled up beyond the mid to high 130km/h mark and there had been only a few bouncers, but he breathed new life into England's cause as Australia fell in a heap, losing 3-3 in 16 balls.
"This wasn't a short-ball wicket," Archer said. "It wasn't as hard as Lord's. If you just get it on a full length you should get results and we did today. I don't need to run in and bowl at 90m/ph [145km/h] every spell to get wickets."
Travis Head and Matthew Wade both came and went without scoring, the former having the top of his off stump hit by an almost unplayable ball from Broad, the latter cursing his misfortune after an Archer body shot bounced off his thigh pad then rolled behind him into the base of leg stump.
Order was restored briefly with Paine joining Labuschagne but when the captain was trapped lbw by Woakes - the DRS overturning umpire Chris Gaffaney's for the third time in the day - England were into the tail.
Archer had his fourth wicket when Pattinson was caught by Root in the slips for two, his fifth when Pat Cummins was caught behind for a duck and his sixth when Nathan Lyon was lbw.
- SMH/The Age