Cow Corner

Australia plumb new depths

Cow Corner

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Through much of this Australian summer, home fans will have thought things couldn't get any worse. On this the 24th scheduled day of the Ashes series, they reached their nadir. And even worse, as at the MCG they will have to come back for a futile morning session before England fans and players get an early start on celebrations. 

Matt Prior's 118 and Graeme Swann's late slog took the score to 644 all out, their best ever in Australia. Yet another record for England on this tour beating a mark set 72 years ago.  A Swann-led assault saw Mitchell Johnson's last two overs go for 35 runs. As Mitch goes so will Australia, many pundits have said. They were right as he compounded this with a golden duck. Ouch!

For the third time in the series when faced with almost certain defeat Australia had a chance to redeem pride. Again they were unable to do so. This isn't an occasion to decry Australian play though. Instead it was outstanding bowling from the England quick bowlers which took them to 213-7.

Well, that's not quite true. Shane Watson for the third time in the contest was involved in a hapless run out. If the Warnie TV show had as much consistent comedy the Channel Nine series would not have been cut short. 

Phil Hughes deserves a co-credit on this occasion as both openers casually jogged a first single then didn't speak or look at each other thereafter as Watson completed a casual second while his partner stayed in his crease. Watson had looked commanding hitting 38 from 40 balls, another sign that he will play a big part in Australia's rebuilding but he really needs a Mike Hussey 'running between the wickets' workshop.

Afterwards England's bowlers took command with James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett taking two wickets apiece on a pitch that the Australian bowlers made look like a featherbed.

Hughes and Usman Khawaja were dismissed by superb sideways movement, as was Michael Clarke who, on 41, seemed likely to score the type of big second-innings score of little significance that has characterised his Ashes career.

The task of rescuing Australia from avalanches has been such that it's a wonder Hussey hasn't been sent on flood recovery duty in Queensland. The wear on him has told as the series has approached its end and after being effectively tied down he perished trying to cut a ball too close to him from Bresnan.

Tremlett took two wickets in two balls prompting hopes from everyone in the ground for an early ending but Steve Smith and Peter Siddle showed character to see out the last half hour. Few Australians except the SCG accountant are likely to be grateful for this.

Shot of the day: The crashing shot through the covers off Michael Beer that brought up Matt Prior's 100 from 109 balls. The quickest since a little known Ian Botham knock at Headingley in 1981.

Man of the day: Again Prior. His ability to score hundreds gives England much needed flexibility to switch to the five bowler line-up they will need in the future against India and Sri Lanka in their quest to reach number one in the world.

Stat of the day: 5 - The number of English batsmen who will finish the series with averages over 50 (Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Prior). Australia just have Hussey.

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