ASHES LIVE: Johnson leaves England trailing, Perth, day two, afternoon

From Sam Collins in Perth

Tea: third Test, day two, Perth
Match score: England 187 (Bell 53, Strauss 52, Johnson 6-38), Australia 268 (Hussey 61, Haddin 53, Johnson 62; Anderson 3-61, Tremlett 3-63)
Session score: England 69 for 5 Australia win
Session in six words: Australia take a grip on Test

“Ozzie, Ozzie Ozzie?”. The first cry came half midway through the morning session, like a hibernating animal emerging in Spring. By tea today it was mating-season in mid-summer, the Barmy Army a footnote. Australia day has come six weeks early.

Australia were not as irresistible as they had been in the hour before lunch, bowling too short, although it paid dividends when a seagull flew in front of Matthew Prior as he fended Peter Siddle onto his stumps. Of course it was Mitchell Johnson who finished things off. England all out for 187, 81 behind on a decent batting pitch, Johnson 6 for 38, scarcely credible at the start of play.

England had done an Australia – 78 for 0, 109 all out. Johnson is an opening bowler who doesn’t like opening the bowling. As such, he bowls first change, and England were able to get to 78 before he got going. England’s star turn again was Ian Bell, a No.3 batting at No.6, and increasingly with the tail. As long as Bell was at the wicket, England had a chance of creeping towards parity. One looseish drive at Harris when he had 53 and it was virtually all over, a confident Johnson against Tremlett and Anderson suddenly not much of a contest.

The time has come for England to change their order. Bell has passed 50 every time he has batted in this series, Paul Collingwood has not reached it once. Collingwood has the versatility to bat at No.6 – his catching is keeping him in the side at the moment – but Bell should have aspirations of moving higher than No.5.

Given Kevin Pietersen’s failure earlier today, Bell’s best position may be at No.4, not as reactionary as it sounds. Pietersen moved up to No.4 in the last Ashes because he was in top form and England’s best player, his preference was No.5. Neither are indisputably the case at present and Pietersen’s vulnerability early in his innings meaning a move down a place lessens the likelihood of coming up against the new ball.

A decent final session and Australia have an excellent chance of squaring this series. England will have concerns over Steven Finn’s form and fitness – they need all their bowlers to be at their best if they are to claw this game back.

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

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