My picks of the third day:
Mike Hussey's 13th Test century and Shane Watson's 95 lifted Australia to 309 all out, giving England a target of 391 to win and putting a shadow over Chris Tremlett's first five-wicket haul. But man of the moment Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris took two wickets each late on in the day, crashing and bashing England to 81-5, still 310 behind, at the end of day three. Australia are back on track and look poised to thrash England to make it 1-1 and the contest evenly poised heading to Christmas and the fourth Test starting Boxing Day in Melbourne.
Run of Play: Advantage to...
1st session, Australia 211-4, 292 ahead, at lunch: Australia's morning, Hussey on 69 off 86, England with chances and semi-chances, but after only taking one wicket this morning, the guests are left needing to work hard to get in there and break Australia.
2nd session, Australia 297-8, 378 ahead, at tea: Australia continue building a strong lead, looking strong and comfortable despite losing four wickets this session, Hussey still the main man on 111 and has now more than 500 runs this series and is keeping on scoring, as long as there are partners left for him.
3rd session, Australia 309 all out, 390 ahead, England 81-5, 309 behind, at the end of day three: Australia looking poised to win this match and make the series all evens after three matches at 1-1 tomorrow. England were all over the place, throwing five wickets away, Collingwood caught out by Smith off Harris with the last ball of the day to put the icing on the Aussie's cake.
Partnerships: The 113-partnership between Hussey and Watson frustrated England through the morning session. Eventually Watson was caught out lbw by Tremlett, but that was when Hussey just got started. He held through till the end, being the last wicket to fall, out for 116 off 172, caught at deep square leg by Graeme Swann off Tremlett after Australia scored 82 runs in the morning and 86 in the afternoon, keeping a healthy run rate even when and after the wickets fell, giving England a target of 391 to chase to win.
If openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook would have held through the 20ish overs till the end of the day, England would have been in it with a shout on day four, but instead England crumbled devastatingly to 81-5, Paul Collingwood falling off the last ball, caught at third slip by Steven Smith off Harris, not happy he was at the crease as James Anderson was at the other end watching rather than doing his job as the nightwatchman. Dire scorecard reading for England, dire forecast and likely outcome for them on day four.
Bowling: Tremlett's five-wicket haul got lost and forgotten under all the Australian runs and Johnson's and Harris' descruction of England. England didn't bowl bad, although Swann was quickly layed off after he conceded 51 off only 9 overs, the Aussies all after him. I think it was more a case of Australia being pre-warned and more cautious after the first innings and coming into the second innings better prepared and more confident after destroying England 187 all out on day two. Australia's bowling at the end of the day on the other hand, was not destructive-perfect, it was more England's confidence that left them and their rationality and professionalism with it, giving their wickets away rather than staying put. No discrediting Johnson, who has had a fantastic comeback in this match, but it is the difference in pitch and England's fallen ego and confidence that went all for him and Australia in this match. Melbourne will be a cracker to see who can and will take advantage there.
Ups: And it is certainly a competition again! Australia had their doubters, me included, but Johnson and co certainly turned that around. At least that will make the last two matches over Christmas and New Year that more crunchy, topsy, turvy, juicy.
Downs: England can't throw the whole series away like this can they? After all the shine and confidence of the first two Tests, this will hopefully have woken them back up to reality that it is never easy to beat the Aussies, but not impossible either! So, come on, hopefully they will turn it on, up and around again in the fourth Test!
Hero to zero: From double century record scorer to a giveaway clown. Kevin Pietersen took a new bat and gave away a needless wicket going after a wide ball and serving an easy catch to Shane Watson at slip off Ben Hilfenhaus. KP will want to forget this match very quickly after scores of 0 and 3...
Australia v England third Test third day as it happened
- Mitchell Magic Johnson is the man of the moment and in the headlines getting 6 of the 13 wickets we saw yesterday at the Waca, destroying England. The England bowlers will have to step up in similar fashion on the third day of the third Test if they want to stay in this match with a shout.
- Chris Tremlett to start the procedings against Mike Hussey who is on 24 (28) and sharing a 55 (74) partnership with Shane Watson 61 (102), Australia 119-3, 200 ahead. A maiden.
- James Anderson against Watson at the other end, who is looking to finally get a three-figure score; and gets a single off the last ball, Australia 120-3, 201 ahead.
- A single off the third over, Australia 121-3, 202 ahead.
- Appeal for a catch by wicket keeper Matt Prior against Watson off Anderson, only Prior shouting. England debate and decide not to review it, replays show the ball give Watson's arm a hint of a brush, nothing on the bat or glove. Wise decision by England. Three runs this over, Australia 124-3, 205 ahead.
- 127-3, 206 ahead after the fifth over of the day, Australia on a 3.33 run rate on day 3 of the 3rd day, is 3 their lucky number? First boundary of the day goes to Watson which takes him to 72. A couple here, inside edge and another run there takes Australia to 134-3, 215 ahead, Watson on 75.
- Singles off the over make it 137-3 after 7 overs, Australia 218 ahead.
- Just a single from the 8th over, Australia 138-3, 219 ahead.
- Steven Finn is brought on for Tremlett, England looking for a breakthrough, no wickets for them yet after 8 overs and 19 runs on the day. Finn starts with a maiden, Australia staying on 138-3, Watson and Hussey on a 74 off 127 balls partnership.
- Anderson stays on at the other end. A communication breakdown between Watson and Hussey nearly costs them a run out, but only nearly, England clutching onto straws... 139-3, Australia 220 ahead at the end of the 10th over of the day.
- Four leg byes off the last ball make it 145-3, slow but happy progress by Australia.
- Nice strike by Watson against Anderson, two off the last ball, takes the opener to 80, Australia 147-3.
- Maiden by Finn, Watson and Hussey staying put at a 83-run partnerhip off 152 balls, the best if the match so far.
- A boundary by Hussey v Anderson brings up the 150 for Australia, Australia 152-3, 233 ahead and finding their stride and hour into day three.
- Watson hits two successful boundaries smoothly through extra cover, England desperate for breakthrough and a breakdown by Australia. Another boundary brings on 100 partnership, 101 off 164, Watson on 90 (169) contributing 60(102), Hussey 36 (62), Australia 165-3, 246 ahead and cruising. Drinks come on. 15 overs so far today, no wickets, 46 runs, just over 3 runs per over.
- Tremlett is back on, three off the first ball after drinks. Problems with the side boards, the players have a break, Kevin Pietersen has a lay-down... Hussey polishes his helmet... Tremlett his face... And cheers go around when the side screen is back moving. Now, the camera keeps blacking out. Problem after problem... About 5 minutes break gone there, can England get the breakthrough after that little interruption? Hussey answers that question by smacking the ball away for four. Australia 174-3 after 49 overs, 16 on the day.
- A couple of singles take Australia to 177-3 after 50 overs, 258 lead, Watson on 95, Hussey on 46.
- WICKET - Watson given OUT lbw off Tremlett, he sends it straight to review on 95, hits him just under the knee pad, the ball hits the wickets, STILL OUT, Watson gone in the 90s again, missing out on another Ashes century, shaking his head saying he has hit it, replays nor hawkeye nor white spot show anything on the ball, looks like he knicked his pad with the bat missing the ball by inches, Australia 177-4, England finally get the breakthrough! They want and need an Aussie collapse now before lunch! Steven Smith in at number six and off the mark with a single. Australia 180-4 at the end of the over, Australia 261 ahead.
- WICKET - Smith caught at slip by Strauss off Finn, sends it straight to review shaking his head, replays shows his bat misses the ball by an inch, but the ball hits his pad, the third umpire checks for lbw, but the ball would have gone over, DECISION OVERTURNED Smith not out, Australia still 180-4. 184-4 at the end of the over, Tremlett had a chance for a dive-catch down the boundary line, but it fell maybe too short for him, Smith safe for nowm Australia 265 ahead, 6 wickets in hand.
- Hussey finds the gap for four, which takes him to his 25th half century, the sixth successive one, a record that is. His average this series so far is 113, one century, two half centuries! Impressive, or what?! Chance for a run out! But Finn misses the stumps at the non-scorers end, Hussey safe and smashes the last ball for four, Australia 197-4, 278 ahead.
- Short leg comes in for Smith against Tremlett, an awkward bouncer bounces off the bat, no one can get to it, three runs bring up the 200 for Australia, followed by a boundary, the partnership races to 27 off 27, Australia 204-4, 285 ahead.
- Anderson is back on before the break. 207-4.
- WICKET for Tremlett - of the last ball before lunch, lbw given out against Hussey, he sends it to review straight away unimpressed, looks high maybe, hawkeye shows the ball goes high over the stumps, DECISION OVERTURNED AGAIN, these reviews are more than paying off for Australia, how England would have loved a wicket off the last ball just before lunch... Australia's morning, 211-4 after 57 overs, 292 ahead, Hussey on 69 off 86 at lunch, England with chances and semi-chances, left needing to work hard to get in there and break Australia.
2nd & 3rd session highlights:
- Due to personal (lack of sleep and optimism) reasons, I didn't catch much of the rest of the day, check out the BBC website for the the full day's action.