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Ashes: England crash to defeat as Aussies level series

Third Ashes Test, Perth (day four):
Australia 268 & 309 beat England 187 & 123 by 267 runs
Match scorecard

Ryan Harris celebrates a wicket
Harris took four of the five wickets to fall on Sunday

By Oliver Brett

Australia needed only 50 minutes on the fourth day to take England's last five wickets and wrap up a 267-run win in the third Ashes Test at the Waca.

The emphatic victory levels the five-match series at 1-1, with the contest moving to Melbourne on Boxing Day.

Ryan Harris finished with a Test-best 6-47 as England were all out for 123.

The tourists resumed at 81-5, seeking an unlikely 391 to win in Perth, but Harris took four of the last five wickets and England folded meekly.

Having produced some disappointing cricket on days two and three, and in a hopeless position overnight, there was little indication England had much appetite to force the game as far as lunch on Sunday.

Strauss admits poor batting performance

Australia had endured some sticky moments in a match they had to win. First they crashed to 69-5 on day one, then their eventual 268 looked certain to be surpassed when Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook put on 78 for the first wicket in England's reply.

But from the moment Cook was dismissed by Mitchell Johnson on Friday morning, Australia dominated affairs to an ominous degree - so much so that England began day four rated 50-1 no-hopers to pull off a shock victory.

Even those odds looked untempting once Harris and Johnson - who each finished the match with nine wickets - began to work over an unusually tentative James Anderson.

In the fourth over of the morning, undecided whether to come forward or back, England's night-watchman was clean bowled by Harris.

Tom Fordyce blog

It began a depressing sequence: Ian Bell hit some typically pleasing shots before attempting to hit Harris across the line and missing.

As the ball thudded into his pads off a full length, he was obviously lbw to a delivery that would have knocked out middle stump - but England reviewed the decision in desperation as captain Strauss looked on ruefully from the dressing room balcony.

Matt Prior looked suspect against the short ball in both innings and three balls after removing Bell, Harris had his third victim of the day. It came from a ball of extra pace which Prior fended off the shoulder of his bat to Mike Hussey, the only centurion of the match, positioned at gully.

The end came quickly. Swann interrupted the sequence of Harris wickets, aiming an ambitious drive at Johnson which crashed into his stumps off a crooked inside edge, and Steven Finn's edge off Harris was comfortably taken by Steve Smith at third slip.

Ponting praises bowler Johnson

Though Australia were excellent value for their win, all is not lost for England. Conditions will be very different at Melbourne, where a damp build-up has ensured there is no chance to recreate the hard, bouncy Perth wicket that played into Australia's hands.

The drop-in pitch at the MCG will be well grassed to start with, but will generally play flatter and may behave more like the one in the previous Test at Adelaide, where England won by an innings.

Hours after their win, Australia named an unchanged 12-man squad for Melbourne - with the 11 players on duty at Perth joined by uncapped left-arm spinner Michael Beer, who was left out of the side on the first morning.

If a stand-by player is required as cover for captain Ricky Ponting - who did not take the field on Sunday after fracturing the little finger of his left hand while fielding late on Saturday - his identity will be announced in due course.

Listen to commentary highlights from day four (UK users only)

TMS podcast: Agnew and Boycott's review (available worldwide)



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see also
Strauss will not rule out changes
19 Dec 10 |  England
Injured Ponting targets MCG clash
19 Dec 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
19 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Third Ashes Test in photos
19 Dec 10 |  England
Sunday's Ashes gossip column
19 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Vaughan calls for Bell promotion
18 Dec 10 |  England
Australia poised to square series
19 Dec 10 |  England
Johnson burst ignites Australia
17 Dec 10 |  England
Tremlett puts England in command
16 Dec 10 |  England
Waugh joins Ponting future debate
16 Dec 10 |  Australia
England complete Adelaide triumph
07 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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