Ashes catch-up: England draw blood as Australia collapse
The day in 50 words
England's tail blown away by Johnson with Pietersen and Bresnan gone in his first over. Blasted out for 255.
Then a superb fightback with the ball. Three wickets apiece for Anderson and Broad, two for Bresnan.
Aussies collapse from 110-3 to 164-9. England on top. At last.
England began the day looking to Kevin Pietersen to build on his patient unbeaten 67 and guide them to a total beyond 300.
But after the early loss of Tim Bresnan, Pietersen aimed an ugly slog at a Mitchell Johnson inswinger and lost his middle stump.
The dismissal left Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special groaning with the despair of a father who had just watched his son reverse the family car into a lamp-post.
In total Johnson took three wickets for four runs on Friday morning to complete his fifth five-wicket haul against England and take his overall tally for the series to 28.
Comeback kids - Anderson and Broad
England's heavy defeat to surrender the Ashes in the third Test in Perth was a chastening experience for all their players, but particularly for James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
The former was smashed for a record-equalling 28 in a single over by George Bailey, with the latter unable to bowl in the second innings after having his foot heavily bruised by a Johnson yorker.
Both men were revitalised in Melbourne as they took advantage of a slower, more English-style pitch to dismantle the Australian batting order. Anderson's highlight was an inswinger that clipped the top of Michael Clarke's off stump after the Australia captain had offered no shot.
Broad, who drew blood from Chris Rogers' face with a short ball, added two late scalps to the wicket of Steve Smith to put England on the brink of a healthy first-innings lead.
Bresnan's impressive return of 2-24 from 18 overs and another encouraging display from Ben Stokes all added up to England's best all-round bowling performance of the series.
Stats of the day
- Johnson's 5-63 was his 10th Test five-wicket haul, half of which have been against England, with three in this series
- Johnson has taken a remarkable 18-37 in four devastating spells during the series
- Anderson's dismissal of David Warner was his 600th international wicket for England (337 Test, 245 ODI, 18 T20)
- Anderson also ousted Clarke for the ninth time in Test cricket, but the first in this series
- Brad Haddin's six created a new world record of 52 for a Test series, surpassing the figure set in the 2005 Ashes
- It was the 37th six by Australia, equalling Pakistan's record for one team in a series
What they said
England bowler James Anderson: "We didn't start as well as we wanted to - the aim was to get 300 on the ball and we didn't do that. But we knew it was a hard wicket to score on and if we were disciplined we could take wickets and we did. We just stuck to our plans - there are no demons in the pitch. We just tried to bang out our areas and be as boring as possible and wait for the breakthroughs.
"The addition of Ben Stokes has been a godsend for the other seamers. Having a number six batter who can bowl as well as he does really helps us out by giving us that fourth seamer. He has the chance to be an outstanding bowler."
Australia batsman Chris Rogers: "Very disappointing day. England bowled well and we were probably a bit careless at times. It's the worst day we've had in the series so far, but it happens and England are still a very good side.
"I think it's one of those surfaces that if you bowl in good areas it's hard to score, and to give England credit they bowled very well today."
"We've had one bad day in the series; I think we've been fantastic just about every day. It had to happen, England had to fight back strong, so it's up to us to rebound again tomorrow."
The expert view on Test Match Special
Former England spinner Vic Marks: "Barring some heroics from Haddin, England should have a substantial lead. They should be able to bat with hope and freedom and, for the first time since the first day in Brisbane, England are in pole position. Given the mood post-Perth and the retirement of Graeme Swann it's quite remarkable. Australia have contributed to their own downfall but England have buzzed and 255 suddenly looks quite a good score."
Former England captain Geoffrey Boycott: "A wonderful day's cricket from England's point of view. We have been waiting for it all series. I thought Australia got sucked in by their own talk to attack England. They've had hard, firm true pitches and their instinct is to attack, but here they have a drop in pitch that sucks the life out of the ball and takes away their run-scoring ability.
"I think England have to set their stall out to bat all day tomorrow. It doesn't matter how slowly. Barring miracles we will win this Test match."
And finally... Piers pole-axed
Chat show host Piers Morgan drew a huge crowd to the nets at the MCG nets after accepting a Twitter challenge to face six balls from former Australia fast bowler Brett Lee.
The outspoken presenter did not get close to making contact with the bat as he was hit on the body four times, ducked under a bouncer and bowled leg stump by the other delivery.
Morgan later tweeted: "Encouraging to see my courage under fire from @BrettLee_58 has spurred England to put up a fight. I should have done it earlier."