Australia assumed total command of the third Ashes Test on Friday by reducing England to 52-2 after compiling a formidable 527-7 declared on the back of Michael Clarke’s brilliant 187 on day two.
Peter Siddle removed Joe Root (8) and nightwatchman Tim Bresnan (1) in the space of 12 balls as England failed to negotiate adequately a testing two-hour spell after tea.
Clarke earlier played with a swagger to post his highest score outside Australia, adding 62 runs to his overnight 125 before chopping Stuart Broad onto his stumps with a fifth double hundred in sight.
Steve Smith missed a golden opportunity to reach his first Test century by throwing his wicket away but a late bombardment by Brad Haddin (65 not out) and Mitchell Starc (66 not out) tormented England’s tired attack.
England still requires 276 more runs to avoid the follow-on, with Alastair Cook (36) and Jonathan Trott (2) in the middle.
Clarke’s innings was pleasing on the eye, cutting loose after resuming from an overnight score of 125 in a manner that suggests he is back to his aggressive best after a below-par start to the series.
Clarke was given a standing ovation by spectators, with his 314-ball knock containing 23 fours..
Steve Smith had earlier recklessly given his wicket away by top-edging a slog-sweep off Swann to Jonny Bairstow. It was a gift for England, ending an Old Trafford-best 214-run stand with Clarke for the fourth wicket, and Smith whacked his pads with his bat in annoyance as he walked off.
David Warner only lasted 10 balls, though, before edging Swann onto the left thigh of wicketkeeper Matt Prior and the ball being caught by Jonathan Trott at first slip. Warner inexplicably asked for the DRS, perhaps mindful of the spate of baffling DRS judgments this series, but he was sent on his way and received more barracking.
After Clarke was dismissed, Peter Siddle (1) followed six minutes later when he missed a slog off Swann and was bowled, granting the spinner a 17th five-wicket haul.
The message was clear for Australia’s batsmen after that play your shots and up the run-rate. And the Haddin-Starc combination obliged.
Starc, in particular, produced a string of graceful shots worthy of his side’s specialist batsmen to reach his half-century off 53 balls.
The nagging accuracy and turn produced by Nathan Lyon and Shane Watson had Cook, in particular, in trouble on a number of occasions at the start of England’s reply and the captain was fortunate to survive a number of close calls.
Root, meanwhile, was content to go on the defensive, trusting his excellent technique and taking just a single in his first 40 balls. He was looking secure until he rocked back and edged Siddle behind to Haddin, with the Australian team erupting with joy at removing England’s in-form batsman.
Bresnan went the same way, although replays showed the ball clipped the top of his trousers rather than the edge of his bat. He will regret declining a review.