Much like the first day of the fourth Ashes Test match between Australia and England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground belonged to the visitors. England had taken a lead of 346 runs by the time the time was called.
Overnight, the English side had already taken the game by the scruff of its neck by bowling Australia out for a paltry 98. Australia needed to restrict England down in their first innings; instead the English openers had got to 157/0 by the end of the first day.
Early on the second day, Peter Siddle stuck twice to get rid of both the opening batsmen. Alastair Cook had looked good to get to another century in the series but only managed to feather one to the slips while Andrew Strauss was stunned by one that bounced that little extra on to the batsman.
Then, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathon Trott got together and looked like taking the side out of trouble when Ricky Ponting got involved with the umpires in a squabble. The incident followed a UDRS referral from the Aussies which was negated by the third umpire and earned the ire of the Australian captain. Pietersen did not last too long after that but the manner in which the argument had petered out, it does look like the match referee could be looking to take the Australian captain to task.
Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell were soon consumed by short balls from Mitchell Johnson and at 286/5, it did look like the Aussies could be looking to restrict the English lead. Instead, Matt Prior benefitted from his dismissal being overturned because the bowler had overstepped and in company of Trott (141*) added an unbeaten 158 for the sixth wicket. This took the English lead to near-350 and made them favourites – 1/7 at Blue Square – to win the game and the Ashes.
With three days to go, the only way that the Aussies can recover from this situation is if the weather gods intervene. Or if they can repeat the manner in which England had batted at Brisbane. A draw is at 13/2 (BetFred), while the unlikely Australian win is at 33/1 (bet365).