Days 1 to 3
The third Ashes Test in Perth is an all action affair. The first three days have seen 35 wickets fall and 845 runs scored, most of them by the Australians.
As with the second Ashes Test in Adelaide, day one seemed to go very much England‘s way. Australia‘s first four wickets fell for only 36 runs, with Clarke scoring only 4 and Ponting barely breaking into double figures. But once again Mike Hussey stepped up to steady the ship. His score of 61 was only bettered by his West Australian team mate Mitchell Johnson, coming back after being dropped for the Adelaide test. Haddin chipped in with a rapid 53 and Siddle made 35 to give the Australian total of 268 an air of respectability. Strauss and Cook finished the final session scoring 29 runs with out loss.
Day two belonged to the comeback kid, Mitchell Johnson. After his 62 with the bat, Alastair Cook was his first victim, caught on 32 by Australian man of the series so far, Mike Hussey. Trott and Pietersen were both quickly dismissed, trapped LBW by Johnson. Pietersen went for a duck, after previously telling Johnson he wanted to be his best mate and could he get his phone number. Ryan Harris picked up the vital wickets of Strauss and Bell, who both made half centuries. But Johnson finished with 6 wickets for only 38 runs. England were all out for 187, eighty one runs behind the Australian first innings score.
Australia batted for the entire late afternoon session. Once again the top order proved fragile. Hughes was caught by Collingwood off an edge from Finn for 12. Ponting went the same way, but he was caught by Prior for only one. Clarke managed 20 before cutting a ball onto his stumps from Tremlett. The exception was Shane Watson, who managed 50 off of 100 balls, ably supported, of course, by none other than Mike Hussey, who also finished the day not out on 24. Australia ended the day on 119 for 3.
Watson and Hussey resumed on the third day, adding 58 runs to their overnight score, before Watson was dismissed, again in the nervous nineties, for 95. Hussey once again carried the innings, scoring his twelfth test century. He was the last man out on 116. Smith hung around to add 36 but no one else made double figures. Australia were all out for 309 giving England a target 391. Much was said about the South Africans making 414 in the fourth innings at the WACA a few years ago. Hussey and Watson had proved that it was a wicket that runs could be scored on and with more than 2 days remaining England were in with a chance. But the smart money would be on Australia to level the series.
Strauss and Cook put on only 23 before Cook was trapped LBW by Harris for 13. Strauss was soon caught by Ponting off a Johnson ball for only 15. Pietersen scored only 3 but Trott put on 31 before being caught by Haddin off of a ball parried by Ponting. Ponting damaged his hand in the attempted catch and left the field. England sent in Anderson as the night watchmen, but this was unsuccessful, as it was Collingwood who was dismissed off the last ball of the day, caught by Smith from a Harris delivery. This left England with 310 runs to get for victory with only 5 wickets remaining.
Australia should mop up the innings on the fourth day, to leave things all square going into Melbourne on Boxing Day.