By Nick Mulvenney
Australia shattered England’s batting with six wickets for nine runs in a stunning mid-afternoon spell before dismissing the tourists for 136 and taking a lead of 224 on day two of the first Ashes Test on Friday.
Opening batsmen David Warner (45 not out) and Chris Rogers (15) backed up the bowlers and solidified Australia’s position by batting out a gloomy final session to put the hosts firmly on course for a first Test victory in 10 matches.
Oft-pilloried pacemen Mitchell Johnson led the way with four for 61 as Australia, bowled out for 295 in the first hour of the day, transformed the match after a disappointing opening day at the Gabba.
The revitalised left-arm quick was at his pacey, hostile best on a bouncy track and was ably supported by fellow paceman Ryan Harris (3-28) and spinner Nathan Lyon (2-17).
Despite the losses of captain Alastair Cook for 13 and Jonathan Trott for 10 before lunch, England looked to be making steady progress towards a reasonable score at 82-2 midway through the second session.
The departure of Kevin Pietersen for 18, when he swatted the ball off his pads to George Bailey at midwicket to give Harris his second wicket, was only a hint of the carnage to come.
Emboldened by the dismissal of one of England’s most dangerous batsmen, Johnson and his fellow bowlers ran rampant to leave the tourists facing an uphill task just to save the Test let alone secure a first victory in Brisbane since 1986.
Opener Michael Carberry, who had crafted a careful 40 on his Ashes debut in his second Test, was next to head back to the pavilion when Johnson had him caught by Shane Watson at second slip.
Ian Bell, who scored three centuries in England’s 3-0 triumph on home soil earlier this year, followed quickly afterwards for five when Steve Smith snatched the ball out of the air at short leg.
It was Smith’s conviction that Matt Prior had hit the following ball before it landed in his hands that led to Australia successfully appealing to the TV umpire and sent the wicketkeeper back to the dressing room with a golden duck.
That put Lyon on a hat-trick and, although Broad safely watched the next delivery sail past his off stump, Joe Root (2) and Graeme Swann (0) soon became Johnson’s third and fourth victims.
The Gabba was in ferment, England’s Barmy Army silent, as Johnson, the object of so much derision from English fans, celebrated what was a match-changing, and could turn out to be a match-winning, intervention.
After tea, Stuart Broad and Chris Tremlett ushered England past the follow-on before the latter was well caught by Lyon off Harris to bring out James Anderson as the last England batsman.
Broad, who took 6-81 in Australia’s first innings, fought a spirited rearguard action and was the last wicket to fall in a barrage of short bowling, caught in the deep by Chris Rogers off Peter Siddle for 32.
Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin had been run out for 94 to end Australia’s innings but his catches accounted for the wickets of Cook and Trott to give him 200 career dismissals in his 50th Test.