Bresnan hails adaptable England
Tim Bresnan believes England’s ability to make the most of changing conditions at the MCG explains their dominance of the fourth Ashes Test.
Andrew Strauss’ side are on the verge of retaining the urn in Melbourne after enjoying the better of proceedings for the third consecutive day.
The tourists exploited an overcast first half of the opening day to dismiss Australia for 98 before openers Strauss and Alastair Cook took advantage of sunny skies to put England ahead by stumps.
The hosts struck back under more early cloud yesterday but, when that burnt off, Jonathan Trott and company made hay to wrack up what would appear to be a decisive first-innings advantage.
Although England lost their last five wickets cheaply today - with Trott unbeaten on 168 having shared a 173-run stand with Matt Prior - and could not break through with the new ball, they capitalised on a now dry pitch to put themselves on the brink of victory.
Bresnan, making his Ashes debut, led the way after tea with three wickets in 18 balls costing two runs.
By the close Australia were six down, needing 247 more to make their opponents bat again, with Ryan Harris unlikely to risk his injured left ankle.
"The lads have played well," said Bresnan, who had 3-26 to his name. "To have bowled them out for 98 in the first innings is all we could have hoped for and we've used the conditions very well.
"Then we've piled on the runs; Trott played out of his skin and Matty ‘P’ (Prior) has had a big partnership again so it's all gone well so far.”
Bresnan was able to find reverse swing this evening, when he trapped Shane Watson in front, forced Ricky Ponting to play on and had Mike Hussey caught at short cover.
With opener Phil Hughes run out before tea, Michael Clarke later edged Graeme Swann to second slip and Steven Smith dragged James Anderson onto his wicket to leave Australia tottering.
"You've just got to use the conditions you get given," Bresnan added.
"It's been very dry out there yesterday and all day today so the pitch becomes quite abrasive and there's been some swing we were able to exploit."
"Myself, Jimmy (Anderson) and ‘Tremmy’ (Chris Tremlett) have all bowled well as has ‘Swanny’ (Swann) because, although there's not a lot of spin out there, he's not gone for any runs either.
"On a pitch that's not doing much you just have to build pressure and wait for the mistake.
"We've done a lot of hard work, but we've still got a little bit to do tomorrow."
Bresnan, who replaced the series’ then leading wicket-taker Steven Finn for this match, knows he is at his best when the stakes are highest.
"I don't know if the selection is a rotation thing; probably the best way to describe it would be horses for courses,” said the 25-year-old, who also took two wickets in Australia’s first innings.
"I do like being under the pump, I think. I do like the big occasion, and I do like being under pressure - I think it brings out the best in me - so why wouldn't it be on Boxing Day in Australia?"
Bresnan highlighted the outstanding performances of his fellow frontline bowlers today in reducing Australia to 169 for six.
New-ball duo Anderson and Tremlett were unfortunate to have only one wicket between them, while Swann’s 22 overs cost just 23 runs.
"We’ve bowled well as a unit again; we’ve bowled in partnerships,” Bresnan said.
“It doesn't matter who really takes the wickets. It just happens today is my day; it's a very good feeling.”
He also stressed the importance of all England’s bowlers gaining match practice thanks to the four tour games besides the Tests.
Although he missed out on the first three Ashes contests, Bresnan played against Australia A in Hobart immediately before the first Test and versus Victoria at the MCG between the second and third.
“I think the way we’ve been preparing, especially the lads who haven’t played in this series - you know we’ve played the warm-up games and tour matches, and prepared as if we’re going to play,” he added.
“Andy (Flower) sat us all down and said ‘listen, I’ll be very surprised if we go (with) the same team through five Tests, obviously being so hard-fought and so close together’.
“We knew there would probably be a chance of two or three of us playing so we had to prepare as if were going to.”