England collapse gives Aussies control of first Test

Australia's Mitchell Johnson (right)celebrates taking the wicket of England's Graeme Swann (left) for 0. Kevin Pietersen, below.
Australia's Mitchell Johnson (right)celebrates taking the wicket of England's Graeme Swann (left) for 0. Kevin Pietersen, below.
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England failed to cope with the pace of Mitchell Johnson as they lost six wickets for nine runs in a hapless collapse which turned the first Ashes Test on its head at the Gabba.

Johnson (four for 61) and then, more surprisingly, Nathan Lyon, wrought havoc in the hour before tea, with Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott already gone by lunch, as England conceded a first-innings lead of 159 in reply to 295 all out in Brisbane.

Australia profited from the short ball, but plenty of skill and astute thinking too, and all ten England wickets fell to catches for a sum total of 136.

The dismissal of Kevin Pietersen, in his 100th Test, began the damaging sequence on a second day during which Australia extended their advantage to the tune of 65 for none by stumps.

Ryan Harris (three for 28) and Johnson, had shared the first four wickets, and then Lyon took two in two deliveries as England lost three stuck on the Australian ‘bogey’ score of 87. A variation of recent history was in danger of being repeated when Stuart Broad strode out to face Lyon’s hat-trick ball – he was lbw to Peter Siddle here to complete the sequence three years ago – but this time he was not required to play at an off-break. He did not stop there either, adding 32 runs to his six for 81 with the ball as England eked out 45 for the last two wickets.

There were, conspicuously, no echoes of 2010/11 in the innings of Cook and Trott.

They had batted more than 21 hours between them on their last appearance at this venue, when their twin tour-de-force rearguard laid the first foundations for England’s famous series victory. This time, after Brad Haddin (94) was run out to end an uneven home innings, they got through barely an hour.

Michael Carberry, back to open at the age of 33 after a solitary previous Test in March 2010, dealt encouragingly with the initial exchanges.

Cook appeared quietly in control too, until Harris found the perfect line just outside off stump to take a forward defensive outside edge for caught behind.

Trott was instantly discomforted as Johnson tested him with the short ball into his body, and Australia’s awareness to rush through for an extra over before lunch paid off.

Johnson needed just one more delivery to have Trott edging behind as he tried to get off side of the bounce, but deflected the ball into Haddin’s gloves.

Johnson duly attacked Pietersen with the short ball too. But Australia soon gave up trying to bounce him out, and chose to bore him instead – a tactic which worked when Pietersen clipped to midwicket off Harris, having already escaped a sharp return chance to Siddle.

Johnson then did bounce out Carberry, from round the wicket, as the left-hander fenced a catch to second slip.

But the collapse truly gathered momentum when Ian Bell was caught at short-leg off Lyon, and then Matt Prior went the same way to the very next ball - thanks to DRS, after Aleem Dar had given him not out.

Joe Root edged compliantly into the slips off Johnson and Graeme Swann went bat-pad, albeit from a Johnson delivery which should have been called no-ball three minutes before tea. Broad ensured the follow-on was at least saved, and took England just past their lowest first-innings total here, before he was last out pulling Siddle to deep midwicket.

Broad earlier had to settle for just one more wicket as Australia added 22 for their last two.

With the last ball of his second over, Broad got Harris as the number 10 tried to pull the bat away but instead merely guided a catch behind off the open face.

Haddin then took one risk too many, trying to scamper a two into the off side off Anderson and unable to match Carberry’s pace and throw.

He had nonetheless served his team well, with a 153-ball rescue act containing eight fours and a six - and whose true worth was yet to become evident.

It had by the time Australia batted again, which openers Chris Rogers and David Warner did admirably to get through to the close unscathed under heavy cloud cover and floodlights.

Despite their remarkable collapse, the mood in the England dressing-room remains “pretty positive”, according to batsman Michael Carberry.

The Hampshire left-hander was the tourist’s leading light, top-scoring with 40 before falling to Johnson, and feels it is too early to write England off in the battle to win the first Ashes Test.

“I think the batsmen obviously feel a little down about the session but the feeling in the dressing-room is still pretty positive,” he said.

“We know there’s still three days to go in the game so we’re not totally out of it yet, so we’ll come out tomorrow hot.

“Credit to the Australians - they bowled well. We never really got away from them at any stage.

“It’s easy to say that (we allowed them to bowl at us) but if people put balls in the right areas then it’s going to be difficult to score.

“I guess you have to try and be proactive as a batsman while respecting good bowling.”

But, speaking to the BBC, Geoff Boycott said: “It’s been decent bowling by Australia, but the batting has been pathetic. They’ve played some poor shots. The problem is we’ve seen it all before. It’s very sad to see them almost give away the Test match like this.”