So Perth 2010 joins Johannesburg 2010 and Headingley 2009 as stains on the record of the otherwise excellent Strauss-Flower axis at the helm of the England cricket side. Worryingly, all three pitches offered the bowlers pace and bounce, and England’s batsmen succumbed each time. Has England’s Achilles Heel been found? Ricky Ponting thought so before the match and his hopes were emphatically confirmed here. Hardly a surprise then that rumours abound of a late change to the pitch that will be used for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. One thing’s for sure – it won’t be a raging turner.
His broken digit may have kept him off the field, but Ponting got the perfect 36th birthday present as his bowlers mopped up the rest of the English wickets with lightning speed. Ponting said afterwards that he got the XI he wanted here with four quicks, but if he is fit for Melbourne will he and the selectors make the same mistake they did at The Oval last summer – or will Australia’s best spinner Nathan Hauritz (who hit another hundred for New South Wales today) finally get a call? If so and facing what would seem to be a well-balanced and newly confident attack, England may find Australia’s momentum difficult to stop.
Time for a promotion for Bell
He may have only made 16 today, but yet again Ian Bell looked in prime form. Despite the top four all having scored at least one hundred in the series, none of them have looked in better touch than England’s number six. Paul Collingwood on the other hand has a top score of 42 in the series and is in the midst of a poor run. As David Lloyd commented on Sky, it’s not a sign of panic to promote Bell to five and drop Colly to six. Indeed, it is just common sense.
Player of the day
Ryan Harris – He bowled well with little reward or support at Adelaide, but his four wickets today gave him six in the innings and nine in the match. Talk about a late bloomer.
Zero of the day
Matt Prior – There wasn’t much time for a definitive zero as things were over in just a flash, but Prior confirmed the impression from his first innings knock that he is struggling with the bat at the moment. Brad Haddin is winning the battle of the keeper-batsmen hands down so far.
Prospects for Melbourne
It’s all set up nicely at 1-1 with two tests to go. England’s supporters were kidding themselves if they thought this series was going to be a cakewalk – and we’ve been as guilty of that as anyone. Australia now have the momentum, but Ponting and Clarke are still out of touch so this series threatens to go right down to the wire. Our pre-series prediction of 2-2 is suddenly looking good again.
Perth: Day 1 - Tremlett's Sinatraesque Comeback
Perth: Day 3 - Hussey & bowlers put England to the sword
Exclusive: Read KP's 2010 Ashes Diary
If you like this, follow us on Twitter @thereversesweep