Ashes 2013-14: England in disarray against Australia
First Ashes Test, Brisbane (close, day three):
Australia 295 & 401-7 dec v England 136 & 24-2 - England need another 537 runs to win
Blistering centuries from captain Michael Clarke and opener David Warner punished England's weary bowlers on day three as Australia moved to within touching distance of winning the first Test.
Warner's 124 off 154 balls - his first ton in Ashes cricket - and Clarke's 113 off 130 allowed the home side to declare after tea on 401-7 and set England a monstrous 561 to win.
"I can't remember two days as bad as this from this England team - they have been nowhere near the standard we expect. But the Australians have played a great brand of aggressive cricket.
"The crowd have helped Australia - they have been hostile and England just haven't had any answers. The cracks that we thought were in the England team, but which were hidden because they won 3-0 in the summer, are wide open now."
Given an hour to survive, England lost Michael Carberry for a duck and Jonathan Trott for a tortured nine as they slumped to 24-2 by the close.
No side in history have scored more than 418 in the fourth innings to win a Test, and with the forecast good for the remaining two days Alastair Cook's men will have to bat out a near-impossible 183 overs to save the match.
And the manner in which they batted against Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris on Saturday evening suggested they will be fortunate to take it into a fifth day.
Carberry was a little unlucky to play on to Harris. But Trott looked utterly hapless against the predictable barrage of deliveries aimed at his body, his dismissal pulling Johnson straight to deep square leg as humiliating as it was inevitable.
Warner and Clarke had earlier put on 158 runs for the third wicket, with Graeme Swann (2-135) coming in for particularly chastening punishment.
Clarke's century was his 25th in Test cricket and his 11th as captain, and means that he now averages more than Sir Don Bradman at this ground.
England had given themselves brief hope by dismissing both Chris Rogers and Shane Watson in the first 35 minutes after Australia resumed on 65-0, both men caught playing ambitious back-foot shots.
They then tried to rough up Clarke with the same short, fast stuff that accounted for him in the first innings.
But neither Stuart Broad nor particularly the pedestrian Chris Tremlett could match the pace and aggression shown by Johnson and Harris on the second day, and the Australian skipper settled in by pulling away two fours.
It was the start of a sustained assault that picked up pace before lunch and then accelerated after as the heat built and England's bowlers tired.
Warner led the way, piling first into Tremlett and then attacking Swann with lusty relish to race into the 90s.
He was fortunate to escape on two occasions against James Anderson while on 99, but went to his century in the next over when he cover-drove Joe Root away to deafening appreciation from the Gabba crowd.
Australia's leading Test century-makers
41 - Ricky Ponting (168 Tests)
32 - Steve Waugh (168)
30 - Matt Hayden (103)
29 - Don Bradman (52)
27 - Allan Border (156)
25 - Michael Clarke (98*)
24 - Greg Chappell (87)
23 - Justin Langer (105)
Warner ripped off his helmet and leapt in the air to celebrate, and when Swann was recalled to the attack from the Vulture St End went after him again.
Clarke joined the assault, with brutal force to flay a six over long-on and with delicate panache to cut him behind point for more.
In three overs in the middle of the afternoon, Swann went for 38 runs, the 150 partnership coming up at almost a run a ball.
When first-innings destroyer Broad came back, Warner clouted him back over his head for another six, only to snick one behind to Matt Prior three balls later to fall for 124 and give Broad his 50th Ashes wicket.
The damage had been done. While Tremlett had Steve Smith caught behind for a duck, Clarke continued to use his feet beautifully to Swann and went to his own 100 with a controlled drive as the Gabba once again rose.
He celebrated with relish, kissing the badge on his helmet and pointing his bat at the home dressing-room, knowing that his innings had almost certainly crushed any faint hopes England had of saving the game.
Swann had posted his own unwanted century before he finally had any success, Clarke bowled as he went down the track once again, and although George Bailey's scalp then gave him his 250th Test wicket there were few smiles.
"Jonathan Trott has a problem and it was a continuation of the first innings. He showed he had a problem with a short ball and he decided to play his shots but he's not the sort of player to be positive and play the pull and hook shot. He's a player who is quiet at the crease and scores his runs. Taking on the fast bowler doesn't work for him."
Brad Haddin and Johnson continued the cruel massacre against the second new ball and took the lead past the 517 that England famously made to save the corresponding Test three years ago.
Johnson heaved Tremlett for a straight six over long on before Haddin went to his second half-century of the game with a single off the 49th ball he faced.
Clarke declared as the score passed 400, knowing England's chances of batting out the 198 overs left in the match were remote.
Sure enough, both Carberry and Trott fell before Cook (11) and Kevin Pietersen (three) clung on to the close.
Even then it took fortune to see them survive, Pietersen calling his captain through for an insane single that would have seen him run out had Warner taken the ball cleanly by the stumps.
It summed up the horrors of the day for the tourists, second best by a distance throughout to a team they beat 3-0 only three months ago.
CommentsJump to comments pagination
Comment number 476.justgettingby
24th November 2013 - 12:43
Comment number 475.Jill Elson
24th November 2013 - 10:08
Comment number 474.ashes sledger
24th November 2013 - 8:10
Comment number 473.SwamyCricketAnanda
24th November 2013 - 8:09
Comment number 472.beegeeuk
24th November 2013 - 8:04