WA make England bowlers work
England endured a chastening evening in the field as Western Australia surged into the ascendancy in the opening Ashes tour match.
A carefree, counter-attacking ninth-wicket stand of 64 between Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann provided respite during a fitful England innings as they declared 19 runs behind on 223 for eight.
However, they then saw the hosts coast to 109 for one in their second innings by the close at the WACA - a lead of 128 heading into the final day.
Steven Finn claimed the only wicket to fall in the 34 overs possible after tea, removing Liam Davis for 43, but Wes Robinson will resume tomorrow within four runs of a second half-century of the match.
Although Kevin Pietersen made a hearterning 58, England stumbled to 117 for seven after losing four middle-order wickets for 29 runs to an inexperienced attack deprived of spearhead Steve Magoffin, who limped off mid-morning with a knee injury.
Broad and Swann’s contributions were therefore timely. Broad hit five fours and three sixes in his 48-ball unbeaten 53, while Swann blazed 37 not out off just 25 deliveries.
England suffered an early blow this morning with the loss of captain Andrew Strauss, trying to attack on the back foot and edging Magoffin behind after adding just nine to his overnight five.
Nightwatchman James Anderson had mustered four runs from 40 balls by the time he finally edged Duffield low to second slip, where Luke Pomersbach took a fine catch.
Magoffin had seen off both England openers for under 20 between them but limped off the field mid-over. He faces a scan tomorrow and will play no further part in this match.
Pietersen's arrival to join Jonathan Trott with the score 27 for three prompted the immediate introduction of Michael Beer, Western Australia presumably well aware of his perceived vulnerability to left-arm spin.
Pietersen's response was to use his feet to attack, and he was soon down the wicket to hit Beer just over mid-on for four and then for a much more convincing cover-driven boundary next ball.
While Trott remained content with his accustomed stoic role, Pietersen, who has endured a trying year with the bat, felt the need to dominate.
He had two moments of luck. Pomersbach was unable to hold a very tough chance diving low to his left at second slip off Michael Hogan, with Pietersen on 25, and the batsman just cleared mid-off after failing to get to the pitch of another attempted big hit off Beer.
Trott eventually took advantage of obvious scoring opportunities when medium-pacer Pomersbach dropped short, and, with the fourth-wicket stand worth 61 at lunch, it seemed England were well set to push for a significant first-innings lead.
That position, however, was squandered in the hour that followed. Trott's attempt to force Beer square off the back foot saw him caught behind by Luke Ronchi at the second attempt, and Paul Collingwood and Pietersen both fell to catches by Marcus North at gully off Hogan.
The first was a blinder, to send Collingwood back cheaply; then a Pietersen drive slid low off the face to end his 90-ball contribution, in an eventful over which had seen him survive a confident lbw appeal and also drive his eighth and ninth fours.
Matt Prior drove Beer on the up to be caught at short extra-cover for a duck, by which time Ian Bell had got off the mark by hitting Beer for a resounding six over long-off, down the wicket to only the third ball he faced.
Broad, by contrast, edged his first runs through the hands of first slip off Beer, but he too was soon clubbing the slow left-armer for a straight six.
The pair put on a handy 42 for the eighth wicket, but much more was still needed when Bell became Beer's third victim, edging a little tamely to slip off the back foot.
England need not have worried because Swann provided exactly what was required in thrilling fashion, and when Broad swept Beer for six to bring up a rapid fifty, Strauss decided they had made enough.
The ease with which the ninth-wicket pair had hauled England almost level highlighted the true nature of a surface which offered little to the seamers once the shine had disappeared off the new ball and merely the prospect of increasing turn for Swann.
Davis, one of two top-order batsmen to register a duck yesterday, soon set about making amends with some crisp drives, and he and Robinson were rarely troubled in an opening stand of 77.
Umpire John Ward identified a reason to turn down Swann's lbw appeal against Robinson, back in his crease on 23, but his colleague Ian Lock decided Davis was hit in front by Steven Finn at the other end.
England could not consolidate that success, though, leaving themselves plenty to do tomorrow if they are to make good on their stated intent to win each of their three warm-up matches before the first Test begins on November 25.