PERTH - England were battered and all but beaten with Australia on the verge of regaining the Ashes at stumps on the third day of the third Test in Perth on Sunday. Australia led by 134 runs on the first innings after the England tail folded meekly again before lunch and the home side were dismissed for 251. The Australians were 235 for three in their second innings at the end of play for an overall lead of 369, with Shane Watson on 29, and Steve Smith on five and two days left to play.
Opener David Warner (112) capitalised on the shoddy wicketkeeping of Matt Prior, who missed two stumping opportunities from the left-hander, to post his second century of the series and take his tally for the series to 457 runs at 91.40. By contrast, England's highest scorer in the series is Michael Carberry, whose 157 runs at 31.40 is only 10 ahead of Australian tailender Mitchell Johnson's aggregate. Australia lead the five-Test series 2-0 after comprehensive victories in Brisbane and Adelaide and can regain the Ashes, which they last won in 2007, with victory in Perth.
As if England's predicament wasn't already dire enough, the tourists returned to the field for the Australian second innings without their best fast bowler Stuart Broad. Broad injured his right foot when struck by a swinging yorker by Johnson, who may have delivered the final blow to England's hope of hanging on to the Ashes. Broad was trapped lbw by the delivery for five, and limped to a fitness test in the WACA nets between innings, before being taken from the ground for scans.
He took no further part in the day's play and the England camp said he was waiting on the results of the scans, with a further announcement likely on Monday. To add insult to injury, the embattled Prior, who again failed with the bat earlier in the day, gifted Warner a life when he missed the easiest of stumpings in spinner Graeme Swann's first over of the innings. Warner was on just 13 and was comprehensively beaten in flight by Swann, who was struck a painful blow on the right index finger while batting earlier in the day, but Prior failed to take the ball.
Prior's afternoon went from bad to worse when he then failed to react to a thin edge from Rogers, on 26, from the bowling of Jimmy Anderson. The ball carried at good height just to Prior's left and he didn't move, forcing first slip Alastair Cook to make a last-moment lunge to his right, grassing what appeared to be the wicketkeeper's catch. Prior missed a second opportunity to stump Warner from the bowling of Swann when the Australian was on 89. Warner's 140-ball knock finally came to an end when he holed out to Ben Stokes at deep mid-on from the bowling of Swann, having hit 17 fours and two sixes.
He and Chris Rogers put on 157, the first century opening partnership of the series, before Rogers fell to Tim Bresnan for 54. Earlier in the day, England resumed at 180 for four, but offered little resistance to the Australian pace trio of Ryan Harris (3-48), Johnson (2-62) and Peter Siddle (3-36). The last six English wickets fell for just 61 runs, the rot starting when overnight batsman Ian Bell was given out lbw to Harris on a third umpire review for 15, after he was initially given the benefit of the doubt.
AUSTRALIA 1ST INNINGS: 385
ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS:
Alastair Cook c Warner b Lyon 72
Michael Carberry b Harris 43
Joe Root c Haddin b Watson 4
Kevin Pietersen c Johnson b Siddle 19
Ian Bell lbw Harris 15
Ben Stokes c Haddin b Johnson 18
Matt Prior c Haddin b Siddle 8
Tim Bresnan c Haddin b Harris 21
Stuart Broad lbw Johnson 5
Graeme Swann not out 19
Jimmy Anderson c Bailey b Siddle 2
EXTRAS: (b11, lb7, w5, nb2) 25
TOTAL: (all out; 88 overs) 251
FOW: 1-85, 2-90, 3-136, 4-146, 5-190, 6-198, 7-207, 8-229, 9-233, 10-251
BOWLING: Harris 22-10-48-3, Johnson 22-7-62-2, Watson 12-3-48-1, Siddle 16-5-36-3, Lyon 16-6-39-1
AUSTRALIA 2ND INNINGS:
Chris Rogers c Carberry b Bresnan 54
David Warner c Stokes b Swann 112
Shane Watson not out 29
Michael Clarke b Stokes 23
Steve Smith not out 5
EXTRAS: (b8, lb4) 12
TOTAL: (3 wkts; 70 overs) 235
FOW: 1-157, 2-183, 3-223
BOWLING: Anderson 13-5-38-0, Bresnan 12-3-49-1, Stokes 14-1-65-1, Swann 23-7-51-1, Root 8-1-20-0
UMPIRES: Marais Erasmus (RSA), Billy Bowden (NZL)
TV UMPIRE: Tony Hill (NZL)
MATCH REFEREE: Jeff Crowe (NZL)