Australia surge into ascendancy
Australia ended day one of the fourth npower Ashes Test at Headingley Carnegie in the driving seat largely thanks to a riotous bowling display from their battery of seam bowlers.
The tourists headed into this morning’s game 1-0 down in the series and knew defeat would hand back the famous urn to their opponents. However they produced a clinical, all-round display to put themselves in a great position to level the series.
Bowling out England for a scant 102 in only 33.5 overs, the tourists then made their way to 196 for four to earn a lead of 96 by the end of a breathless first day in Leeds.
On a day in which 14 wickets fell for a cost of 298 runs it Michael Clarke and Marcus North who ended the day unbeaten on 34 and seven respectively.
After Andrew Flintoff was originally ruled out and Matt Prior suffered a late injury scare with a back spasm in the warm-up, England skipper Andrew Strauss won the toss and opted to bat first amid sunny skies and an expectant, capacity crowd.
That was about as good as it got however, with the tone being firmly set with the opening ball of the day; a swinging, good length Ben Hilfenhaus delivery that nipped back and was unfortunate to not to account for Strauss as he lunged forward and was struck on the pad suspiciously in-line with the stumps.
Australia got their man shortly afterwards with Marcus North pouching a superb one-handed catch at third slip after Strauss flashed at a Peter Siddle delivery that was angled across him for just three.
Eleven for one soon became 16 for two as Ravi Bopara continued his uncertain form to fall for one, the right-hander fending a stock Hilfenhaus ball to Mike Hussey in the gully.
Ian Bell looked solid as he found the rope twice in attempting to wrestle back the momentum, but he too was swept up for eight after gloving a rising Mitchell Johnson ball through to Brad Haddin.
With England teetering at 39 for three they badly needed an innings of substance from Paul Collingwood. But Stuart Clark tempted him into a fiddling at an outswinger in the infancy of his innings that ended in the hands of Ricky Ponting for nought.
Opener Alastair Cook, who had watched the precession from the other end and looked a rare bright spot during a wretched morning for England, added to the home side’s panic when he fell for 30 to Clark after nicking into the hands of Michael Clarke at first slip.
Stuart Broad, England’s new number seven, fell to what turned out to be the last ball before lunch when he turned a short ball from a rejuvenated Clark to short-leg Simon Katich for three.
That left the hosts in all sorts of peril at 62 for seven at the interval, with things getting quickly worse after the restart as Graeme Swann tamely drove a Siddle ball to Clarke at first slip for nought.
Australia looked like picking up wickets at will, and Siddle cleaned up Steve Harmison for another duck when he offered a regulation chance to Haddin.
James Anderson came and went quickly, though thankfully for a single that not only brought up England’s 100, but kept up his remarkable record of no ducks in 53 Test innings.
He perished for just a single gloving a brutish Siddle ball that rose sharply and took the glove, Haddin taking the resulting catch.
Graham Onions lasted just one ball as he became the innings’ fourth duck, harshly judged to have gloved another nasty ball from the nevertheless excellent Siddle.
Katich took the catch at short-leg to leave Siddle with 5-21, Clark with 3-18 as well as England in a daze as to how they had been rifled out in 33.5 overs on a decent-looking strip.
England were desperate for the early wickets that would give them the momentum and the backing of the 18,000-strong crowd - however Anderson’s first two balls were summarily dismissed through point for four by Shane Watson.
The recalled Harmison offered England slight hope when he snared Katich in his first over for the game’s fifth duck, the paceman hurrying on a nasty short ball that the left-hander could only help into the hands of a diving Bopara at leg-gully.
However, Ponting responded magnificently in thrashing a number of boundaries as he seized on a plethora of short-pitched bowling.
The Australia captain dispatched Onions high over square-leg for a towering six to fully assert his authority, rollicking his side along at around eight runs-per-over as they passed 50.
The tourists continued in a similar vein in the aftermath of the interval, Watson in particular displaying some savage pulls that helped him to his fourth Test fifty.
However, having acknowledged the crowd he was duly sent packing by Onions who managed to sneak one past a drive and have him leg-before for 51.
Ponting then surprisingly followed him back for a superbly-made 78 when Broad picked him up in the same manner, sliding in a ball that would have hit leg stump had it not thumped into his front pad.
Hussey began imperiously with two straight drives for four, however he too fell to a persevering Broad for 10 lbw playing round a ball that Hawkeye decreed would have knocked back his leg stump.
It was left to Clarke and North to see out the day for Australia, a period that was not without incident either as Clarke was hugely fortunate to survive an appeal for caught behind when he fended a Harmison delivery off the wrist off his glove.