Ashes - Australia take control again at the MCG

Day one, fourth Ashes Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground - stumps; England 226-6, (Pietersen 67*, Carberry 38, Harris 2-32, Johnson 2-59). Australia lead the series 3-0.

England ended the first day of the fourth Test against Australia on 226-6, after an afternoon of slow scoring left them short.

England made two changes to their side, with vice-captain and wicketkeeper Matt Prior dropped after a miserable tour in which he averages just 17, replaced by Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow, while Monty Panesar was picked to replace Graeme Swann, who retired a few days ago, winning his 50th Test cap.

The tourists made a solid start to their innings, but as has been the case on many occasions in these Ashes, too many batsmen got in before giving their wickets away. Captain Alastair Cook made 27 before wafting at a ball outside off stump, Michael Carberry got to 38 before shouldering arms to a Shane Watson inswinger, Ian Bell made a painstaking 27 until he edged behind.

And it was Bell's time at the crease that appeared to be damaging for England, as he and Kevin Pietersen played uncharacteristically reserved innings as the Australians tried to frustrate England with some extremely tight bowling. Pietersen ended the day on 67 not out, and did eventually start to play some attacking shots, but he was nearly out on a couple of occasions. Substitute field fielder Nathan Coulter-Nile caught Pietersen on the fine leg boundary, but couldn't prevent himself going over the boundary ropes, while George Bailey put down a difficult chance at mid-wicket.

A fine spell by Mitchell Johnson with the second new ball truly tipped the balance of the day in Australia's favour, inducing Ben Stokes to edge to first slip, then bowling Bairstow after a brief and skittish innings.

Australia had their own problems, as Watson was forced to leave the field after pulling up with an injured groin midway through the afternoon session, but he eventually returned to the field, although he didn't bowl again.

Scorecard / stats / commentary

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48-1 - WICKET! Cook plays a loose shot outside off stump and guides the ball into the hands of Clarke at second slip, Siddle the bowler.

71-1 - LUNCH. England reach the interval at 71-1, with Michael Carberry looking good but Joe Root having a few problems with Australia's bowlers.

96-2 - WICKET! After looking so accomplished at the crease, Carberry leaves a Shane Watson inswinger from around the wicket and is bowled.

106-3 - WICKET! Root's scratchy innings comes to an end, nibbling at one from Ryan Harris and Brad Haddin takes the catch.

TEA - England crawl to the tea break at 135-3, with Bell and Pietersen scoring runs at an uncharacteristically slow pace.

173-4 WICKET! Bell falls in a similar way to Root, nibbling at a Harris outswinger, through to Haddin behind the stumps.

202-5 - WICKET! Stokes goes after a few fine shots, edging Johnson to Watson at slip.

216-6 - WICKET! Bairstow's relatively brief and skittish innings comes to a close, bowled through the gate by Johnson.


England's 2013 run rate of 2.85 is their lowest since 2000.

There have now been 50 sixes hit in this series, just one short of the record total for an Ashes series, set in 2005.

Kevin Pietersen moved ahead of Geoffrey Boycott in the ranking of all-time Test run-scorers for England. He now stands on 8119 runs from 103 Tests, at an average of 48.04.


"Very difficult decision. We felt a bit of time out of the firing line would do him good. At 31 we still think he has plenty of time left" - England captain Alastair Cook explains the omission of wicketkeeper and vice-captain Matt Prior.