A great leveller
Mike Hussey's hunger and Australia's superior bowling has been a revelation in Perth, says Bob Willis.
Last Updated: 18/12/10 11:16am
You've got to hand it to Australia; Chris Tremlett aside, they've completely out-bowled England at Perth and will now surely level the series.
Down and out after Adelaide, Ricky Ponting's side has produced a remarkable comeback and made an in-form England batting line-up look very brittle indeed.
Even bearing in mind some of the batting blips we witnessed during the summer, it was still quite a surprise to see England lose five wickets in that final session.
Alastair Cook got a good ball from Ryan Harris, but Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood could have left the deliveries that got them and goodness knows what Kevin Pietersen was doing!
He'd just changed his bat and the only explanation I can think of for his shocking waft outside off-stump is that he suffered a complete loss of concentration; in the end it looked as though he was giving slip catching practice!
But collapses such as England experienced can happen when you are facing a huge target in the fourth innings.
Set a mammoth 391 to win, they needed to end the third day at a maximum of one-down to have a chance of making English cricketing history on a good pitch.
Instead with the scoreboard showing a sorry 81-5 I can't see any way out of this for them now.
Hopefully we'll see Ian Bell play another classy innings but the problems are at the other end.
Australia will no doubt pepper nightwatchman James Anderson early on, while next man in Matt Prior remains hit and miss; if he scores runs he will score them quickly and once he's gone I can't see the tail resisting for very long, so all hope is lost.
On a brighter note, Tremlett deserves every plaudit for picking up his first Test five-for earlier in the day.
It was interesting to listen to his interview after the first day's play when he admitted that he had butterflies the night before making his comeback and he experienced a restless night as a result.
You wouldn't have guessed that from the way he performed on the park; he's looked every bit the part and full of confidence.
As we showed on Friday's highlights show, Tremlett has been the only England bowler to consistently bowl the right length - possibly because he's become used to bowling on a pitch where there is a bit of carry at the Oval.
To their credit he and the rest of the bowlers kept going well in the heat and did a good job in wrapping up Australia's first innings as quickly as they did.
James Anderson had more snap to his bowling than he has at any stage in the match, while Steven Finn still has a happy knack of picking up wickets despite leaking runs.
They had their work cut out, though, bowling at 'Mr Cricket' - Mike Hussey.
As his stats suggest, he loves playing against England particularly in Australia; his record in the last two home Ashes series is quite phenomenal.
It was hard to imagine that anyone would overtake Alastair Cook as the leading run-scorer in the series so quickly after watching the England opener rack up 235no but Hussey, on the back of five consecutive scores above 50 (six if you count his innings at the Oval last year), has achieved that feat.
The way he plays the short ball is absolutely terrific, particularly the way he smashes it in front of square.
He picks up the length of the ball very quickly indeed, on the back and the front foot, and I love to see him coming down the track and being positive against Graeme Swann.
Goodness knows where Australia would be in this series without his runs.