From Sam Collins in Perth
Lunch: third Test, day two, Perth
Match score: England 119-5, Australia 268 (Hussey 61, Haddin 53, Johnson 62; Anderson 3-61, Tremlett 3-63)
Session score: England 90-5 Australia win
Session in six words: What has happened to Mitchell Johnson?
Wake up England – someone has finally resuscitated this series. His name is Mitchell Johnson, a man written out of things more often than Phil Mitchell.
Bowling at 90mph and then some, when Johnson curves the ball back into the right-handers, chaos normally ensues. Here was no different, England sawn of at the knees by high-class in-swing bowling. Cook edged to Hussey in the slips, Trott, Pietersen and Collingwood went lbw. Comfortable at 78 for 0 England? Try some 98 for 5 for size.
There is no more thrilling sight in cricket than a genuinely fast bowler with his confidence up. Maybe it was his innings yesterday, maybe it was the balls that started to curve before the close last night, maybe it was even those hours in the nets in Adelaide. Maybe someone fed Popeye some spinach. Whatever has made Johnson’s bowling arm and head click together like a cricketing catapult throwing firebombs, bottle it, because Australia are going to need buckets of the stuff.
Before Johnson was thrown the ball we could have been in Adelaide. When he finished his spell nine breathless overs later we were in the blazing ruins of first day Brisbane. He likes bowling at his adopted home ground, he has 25 wickets at 19 in four previous Tests here. If England can take hope from anything, it is that Australia still lost when he took 11 wickets here against South Africa in 2008. Then he bowled a spell of 5 for 1, here it was 4 for 7. Suddenly England’s slackness yesterday evening took on new meaning, with 268 looking as far off as 2,268. If they are to recover Bell and Prior must be decisive in defence and attack, as the tail looks longer without Broad.
Two moments sum up the change in fortune. In his second over of the morning the earnest Ryan Harris found Strauss’s edge, only for the ball to fly straight between Watson and Haddin. The crowd groaned. Here we go again. A little later they were groaning for a different reason when Johnson almost killed Collingwood with a bouncer, then swung one back so quickly that Collingwood was still taking guard. The appeal refused, Ponting gambled on the moment and won. It was hard to begrudge him that.
Sam Collins is TWC‘s man in Australia and will be blogging on TWC and sampsoncollins.wordpress.com throughout the Ashes
Read more on the Ashes:
Why it’s good for English players and Anderson to go home
The real Australian selection policy: Alex Bowden
Aussie press round up, day one: columns of conviction
The A-to-Z of the Australian cricket in 2010 by Alan Tyers
Some thoughts on Perth prospects from Sam Collins
Australian have started to sound seriously crazy – Daniel Brigham
Ricky Ponting on the edge – John Stern
Lawrence Booth picks his Broad replacement
Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss on leadership
“Where is the leadership?” John Inverarity
Alex Bowden points the finger at Australia’s forgotten failure