Watson leads assault on depleted England attack

Published: Tuesday | December 17, 2013 Comments 0
Shane Watson
Shane Watson

 

PERTH, Australia (AP):

Shane Watson set the tone by bullying a depleted pace attack and Ryan Harris followed up by bowling England captain Alastair Cook for a golden duck as Australia moved to the cusp of regaining the Ashes.

England laboured to 251-5 at stumps yesterday with Ben Stokes making a defiant 72 and out-of-form Matt Prior on seven. England's last pair of recognised batsmen will resume on the fifth day at the WACA with three sessions to survive for an improbable draw.

Michael Clarke's Australians won the first two Tests with at least two sessions to spare and are favourites to clinch a third straight win to end England's three-series hold on the Ashes.

Australia had the momentum on day four after resuming on 235-3 and clobbering 134 runs in 17 overs before skipper Michael Clarke declared at 369-6, a lead of 503.

Watson's 106-ball century contained five sixes and 11 boundaries before he was comically run out for 103 and George Bailey (39) plundered a world record 28 runs in the last over from Jimmy Anderson.

Bailey hammered him for 4-6-2-4-6-6 to equal Brian Lara's Test record for most runs in a single over.

"It's a special moment in everyone's career in the Australian team," Watson said. "We can't get in front of ourselves. We know that the English are always going to fight until the end. We're going to have to be at our best turning up tomorrow morning to get the results that we deserve."

England made a dire start to their chase with Harris bowling Cook on the first ball and the top three were gone before the tea interval, with Michael Carberry (31) out lbw and Joe Root (19) spectacularly caught behind after edging Mitchell Johnson.

England slipped to 121-4 when Kevin Pietersen (45) was caught in the deep, but Ian Bell (60) and Stokes put on 99 for the fifth wicket to prolong the innings.

Pietersen batted with uncharacteristic restraint, but couldn't help himself as he approached a half century and tried to hit Nathan Lyon over the long-on boundary into the breeze and was caught in the deep by Harris.

After Bell was caught behind off Peter Siddle, England's Ashes defence rested primarily on Stokes, who is playing his second Test and who took two wickets earlier yesterday, and vice-captain Prior.

The biggest successful fourth-innings chase in Test cricket is 418-7 by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003. Next on the list was South Africa's 414-4 to beat Australia in Perth in 2008.

So only four months after winning the Ashes 3-0 on home soil, England are on the verge of going down 3-0, with two matches remaining in Australia.

Bell said England's capitulation so far in the series has been "hugely disappointing" but praised the 22-year-old New Zealand-born Stokes for the character he has shown.

"We're still hanging in there and that's the important thing," he said. "We need to take tomorrow as deep as we possibly can, keep showing some fight."

 

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