England endured a desperate day at the WACA to descend into ever more imminent danger of losing the Ashes in this third Test.
First, Alastair Cook’s tourists lost their last six wickets for 61, to be bowled out for 251 before lunch; then came the bombshell, as they took the field for Australia’s second innings, that Stuart Broad was unavailable and on his way to hospital for x-rays on a foot injury.
David Warner (112) took cruel advantage of England’s vulnerability with a brutal 127-ball century as Australia piled up 235 for three by stumps, for an overall lead of 369. Day Three in Perth was a new low.
It was as if all the effort of the previous afternoon, to try to stay in touch with a superior force, had taken toll as a realisation dawned that they could not after all be competitive.
In temperatures once again soaring above 100 degrees and in the absence of Broad, Warner hit 16 fours and a six on his way to three figures, dominating an opening stand of 157 with Chris Rogers (54).
England missed their opportunity to negate Warner on just 13, when Matt Prior failed to stump him in Graeme Swann’s first over. Rogers also escaped on 26 when the wicketkeeper left a catch to Alastair Cook at slip, but the captain could not react quickly enough to the edge off James Anderson.
The two left-handers raced to the first century opening stand of the series, by either team.
Rogers eventually departed to an aerial cut off Tim Bresnan, and Warner himself - after another missed stumping on 89 - when he launched a skier to long on, safely held by Ben Stokes off Swann.
There was late reward for Stokes’ efforts with the ball too, when one nipped back to bowl Michael Clarke. It seemed the definition of misfortune with a viable position at that point still not that far from reach to lose a key batsman lbw via DRS at the WACA, this venue where almost every delivery can safely be assumed to be clearing the stumps.
On that basis presumably, and perhaps a suspicion of bat on ball, Marais Erasmus gave Ian Bell not out pushing forward to a Ryan Harris inswinger.
But Australia felt they could chance a review, under new regulations which reinstate their quota after 80 overs and to general surprise, Hawkeye simulation depicted the ball clattering into the top of middle-stump.
Mitchell Johnson then struck for the first time in more than 40 overs. Stokes wafted a drive at a wide one to be caught-behind. Peter Siddle (three for 36) duly came up with another wicket - Prior going for the pull but managing only an under-edge behind.
England had lost three for 27 - and with only the tail left, their chances were already fading fast. Johnson made short work of Broad, forcing him back in the crease and then pinning him lbw with a full delivery on to the right boot barely an inch or so in front of the stumps, injuring him.
Bresnan was then ninth out to Harris, caught-behind and Swann was left unbeaten when Anderson fended a catch to short-leg off Siddle. It was a hapless end to the innings, and the preface for much more punishment to come.
Australia (1st innings) 385 all out, England (1st innings) 251 all out (A Cook 72, M Carberry 43; R Harris 3-48, M Johnson 2-62, P Siddle 3-36).
Australia (2nd innings) 235-3 (C Rogers 54, D Warner 112).
There they go again!
England fast bowler Tim Bresnan and Australia’s opening batsman David Warner exchange words during Day Three of the third Ashes Test at the Western Australia Cricket Association ground in Perth yesterday. Warner went on to score a century as England found themselves on the ropes.
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