Australia 385 & 6/369 dec. (SR Watson 103) v England 251 & 5/251 (BA Stokes 72*, IR Bell 60)
Stumps Day 4
Australians all let us rejoice, the urn is coming back. An at times frantic Day 4 saw the home team bully England before the tourists batting lineup finally showed some steel late in the day.
Starting Day 4 on 3/235, an overall lead of 369, Australia needed quick runs. SR Watson, resuming on 29, just needed runs. Watto delivered for both himself and his country with his 4th Test century, belting the ball in the way we are normally accustomed to seeing him belt a white ball. Watson was particularly severe on the bowling of Graeme Swann, smashing 37 off the 13 balls he faced from the English off-spinner. But there was some typical Watto moments in his 103 off 108 balls, being caught at long-off by Tim Bresnan who then tumbled over the boundary, and his dismissal, where he was dropped by Ian Bell after a typical ugly Watto get out shot before being run out by the luckless Bresnan while dawdling down the wicket and cursing himself for his bad shot. Classic Watto. The hitting continued with an assault on the bowling of Jimmy Anderson by George Bailey who hit 28 off the Lancastrian’s over, equalling the world record for runs in an over (held by Brian Lara), and taking the lead to over 500 with his third straight six of the over that brought an immediate declaration from his skipper. Bailey, who also had been dropped earlier, finished with an unbeaten 39 off 30 balls. Some wonderful hitting by Watson and Bailey but both still have plenty of questions to answer in their Test careers. Runs in Johannesburg and Cape Town in February will be far more valuable for this pair.
If England weren’t mentally shot after that onslaught, seeing their captain lose his off stump first ball of the innings would have totally deflated them. A great ball from Harris that pitched middle and hit the top of off but a ball that the 2010/11 Alistair Cook would have easily defended. Like his mates Anderson and Swann, the series can’t finish soon enough for the out of sorts England captain. All 5 of the Aussie bowlers took a wicket each as they all toiled hard but the Perth heat and back to back Tests are starting to take it’s toll. KP was batting well and had the attack at his mercy before throwing his wicket away, being well caught on the boundary by Ryan Harris from the bowling of Nathan Lyon. Ian Bell played well for his 60 trying to ramp the ball over slip one too many times. Most impressive for the Poms was young all-rounder Ben Stokes, who will resume on Day 5 unbeaten on 72. Stokes drove and pulled the ball well, appears to have plenty of time while batting and when you factor in his very good bowling, where he has been clocked consistently as England’s fastest bowler in this game, the tourists look to have a fantastic long term player.
5 wickets to go, once the Stokes/Prior partnership is broken it should be a quick finish given the English tail’s form so far in this series. No doubt Boof will have the beers on ice, Harris, Siddle and Johnson will look forward to being put on ice until Boxing Day and hopefully Pup spends a long night in the changerooms. Bring on Day 5, time to return the urn!