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Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Sunday, 26 December 2010

Ashes: England dominate woeful Australia in Melbourne

Fourth Ashes Test: Australia 98 v England 157-0 (stumps, day one)
Venue: Melbourne Dates: 26-30 December Start time: 2330 GMT each day
Coverage: Live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW & online; TMS highlights online (UK only) and day's review on the TMS podcast; live text on BBC Sport website; live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on ITV4
Match scorecard

James Anderson removes Mike Hussey
England were elated when the prolific Mike Hussey fell for just eight

By Oliver Brett

England put themselves in a remarkably dominant position after day one of the fourth Ashes Test having bowled out Australia for just 98 in Melbourne.

Chris Tremlett and James Anderson swung the ball beautifully to take four wickets each after captain Andrew Strauss had won an important toss.

Australia showed poor technique to contribute to their demise.

And they were made to pay when Strauss and Alastair Cook pushed England along to a very healthy 157-0 in reply.

Having lost by 267 runs on a much faster wicket in Perth to relinquish their 1-0 series lead, England's flawless performance on Boxing Day with bat and ball defied logic.

Lowest against England at the MCG
Lowest first innings at the MCG
Lowest against England since 1968
Lowest score in Australia since 1984
Lowest at the MCG since 1981
Lowest against England at home since 1936

They have already put Australia, who recorded their lowest all-out total in an Ashes Test at the MCG, in a situation where defeat is a probability.

In Australia's mitigation was the fact that cool, cloudy conditions up until tea had turned the early exchanges into something more akin to a May Test match in England, with bowlers able to extract swing and seam movement.

With propitious timing for the tourists, the clouds melted away as Strauss - who ended the day on 64 - and Cook (80) strode to the crease. And barring one or two early deliveries from Ben Hilfenhaus the ball did not swing for the Australians.

Australia entered this critical match with only three batsmen in any sort of form. Mike Hussey had made an extraordinary 517 in the first three Tests, while Shane Watson and Brad Haddin had also produced some key performances.

This time, however, with England's three seamers locating a searching length from the off - and finding swing consistently, those three all failed. Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting were due runs, but managed only 20 and 10 respectively, while Phillip Hughes and Steve Smith do not appear to possess the necessary techniques for swing-friendly conditions.

Such was the one-sidedness of the early exchanges, that England could afford to drop Watson twice before he had scored - Paul Collingwood at third slip and Kevin Pietersen in the gully were the culprits.

Anderson was the unlucky bowler on those two occasions, but it was Tremlett who supplied the first wicket, Watson getting a nasty one that bounced up to an uncomfortable height - and gloving to Pietersen. Despite his double let-off, Watson had made only five.

There was another catch for Pietersen in the gully when Hughes, craving anything wide outside off, flashed at one that he should have left to give Bresnan a wicket with his seventh ball in an Ashes contest.

The Yorkshireman had been a debatable selection ahead of Steven Finn, the leading wicket-taker in the series. But he showed some fine control at one end as Tremlett and Anderson probed away at the other.

Ricky Ponting suggested a possible return to form when hitting two fine pull shots for four, but Tremlett got one to fizz away from him off the seam and the Australian captain's edge was well held by Graeme Swann at second slip.

England were in prime position at 37-3, but they still needed to send Hussey back to the pavilion. They got their wish when Anderson snaked one away from him off a full length just two balls before a 90-minute rain break which incorporated lunch.

Chris Tremlett removes Shane Watson for five
Tremlett got the ball rolling with the wicket of Shane Watson

Prior's catch was riotously celebrated, and Anderson remained in hot form during the afternoon; uncertain pushes outside off-stump caused the demise of both Steve Smith and Clarke - the Anderson-Prior combination doing the business each time.

A score of 77-6 became 77-8 when Haddin wafted Bresnan to slip, before Prior accepted another catch from Anderson's bowling to send the occasionally dangerous Mitchell Johnson on his way for a duck.

Tremlett returned to wrap up the tail and Australia were all out in 42.5 overs - their lowest score against England since 1968.

Every dismissal had been as a result of a catch behind the wicket, Prior becoming the seventh England gloveman to take at least six in a Test innings.

England's efficiency in the field meant they could turn their attentions to batting during the tea interval.

Their progress was serene in the extreme as Strauss and Cook did what Australia's batsmen had failed to do - leave the ball well alone when necessary, or play it tightly in defence with bat and pad close together.

Cook was given out lbw on 27 but called for a review which quickly revealed an inside edge.

BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce

There were some nice shots as well, such as Strauss's on-drive off Peter Siddle to bring up the fifty partnership and two straight drives for four by Cook off Hilfenhaus.

Even as news filtered through that 84,345 spectators had watched the early exchanges of the afternoon session, huge swathes of them were already leaving the ground - though a delighted Barmy Army contingent remained in situ.

Strauss took England into the lead with a sublime on-drive off Watson, but Cook was playing with even more fluency than his senior partner and was just 20 short of a third century in the series when stumps were drawn.

Listen to commentary highlights from the opening day of the fourth Test (UK users only)

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

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see also
Jonathan Agnew column
26 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
26 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Fourth Ashes Test day one photos
26 Dec 10 |  England
Anderson hails 'unheard of' day
26 Dec 10 |  England
Clarke backs under-fire Ponting
26 Dec 10 |  Australia
Ponting fit to play in Melbourne
25 Dec 10 |  Australia
Sledging not an issue - Pietersen
22 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Cook backs under-fire Collingwood
21 Dec 10 |  England
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket

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