England’s stifling tactics paid rich dividends at Melbourne to earn an almost guaranteed first-innings lead in the fourth Ashes Test
England’s seamers got their act together at last, for the first time since day one of a series already lost, to reduce their hosts to 164 for nine in reply to 255 all out.
It was an admirable effort, if belated after the urn was conceded in Perth before Christmas, from an attack led by James Anderson (three for 50) and Stuart Broad (three for 30) to gain the advantage after Mitchell Johnson (five for 63) had been on the rampage again for Australia.
The left-armer reprised his demon-bowler role to take his wickets tally for the campaign to 28 as England subsided from 226 for six in less than an hour on an initially gloomy second morning here.
But England ended the first session with two wickets already - and despite almost four hours of stoic resistance from opener Chris Rogers (61) and the standard defiance of Brad Haddin at number seven, they kept eking out wickets.
The tourists received plenty of criticism on day one for failing to impose themselves with the bat against disciplined bowling.
Yet when they got their turn with the ball, they demonstrated they too had the skills and accuracy after all to dictate the rhythm of the match.
Rogers nonetheless deserved particular credit for his resilience after being hit on the helmet by a Broad bouncer and needing attention for a cut to his cheekbone when he was on 16.
Under brightening skies for the start of Australia’s innings, Rogers soon lost opening partner David Warner - whose skittish stay ended when a mistimed flick to leg off Anderson skied an edge almost perpendicular in the crease to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Shane Watson appeared slightly discomforted by the groin injury he had suffered bowling, and he fell to a stiff drive and inside-edge behind off Ben Stokes.
Michael Clarke went shortly lunch, losing his off bail when he left alone a delivery from Anderson which jagged in off the pitch.
Anderson almost pulled off a brilliant catch to then get rid of Steve Smith too, but instead the batsman saw the ball pop from the fielder’s grasp after he dived full length to his right to get a hand on a fierce pull at Tim Bresnan.
Rogers carried on regardless, albeit with little fluency, and just managed to reach his 50 before tea.
It was in the next hour, however, that England bowled especially well - and got their rewards.
Instinctive shot-maker Smith had spent 77 balls over 19 runs when he went after Broad on the back foot but could only edge head-high to Ian Bell at second slip.
Rogers’ vigil then ended with a faulty drive at the nagging Bresnan to Kevin Pietersen, running round from mid off, and George Bailey went for a 19-ball duck to Anderson when - as, controversially, with Joe Root in the last Test - ‘snickometer’ evidence was enough to see him off caught-behind on DRS, after an initial not-out verdict.
Anderson dropped Johnson at cover off Bresnan on two, only to catch him without addition in mirror image off the same bowler at midwicket.
In between, Haddin benefited from DRS to overturn another on-field decision by Aleem Dar - this time for lbw on 35 - but Broad returned to have Ryan Harris caught at short-leg and then Peter Siddle caught at cover with the last ball before stumps.
Johnson had earlier run through England yet again, thanks partly to some conspicuous compliance from Pietersen (71) on this occasion.
The left-armer saw off both England’s overnight batsmen, Bresnan and Pietersen, in his first over as he continued a spell from the previous evening which would eventually read 9-3-18-5.
He got one in the perfect place to Bresnan, unable to fend a short delivery to ground and easily caught at short-leg.
Pietersen responded to the dismissal of the often reliable number eight with a failed attempt to counter-attack against Johnson.
The ambition and method appeared unrealistic, and ended with an astounding mow across the line which resulted in the loss of leg-stump.
After Pietersen’s hard graft on day one, it was a bizarre change of tack - even with the tail exposed and few remaining candidates to bat with him - and it left England with minimal remaining resources to prolong their innings.