Ashes 2013: England collapse as Australia take charge of fourth Test
|Fourth Investec Test, Emirates Durham ICG (day one):|
|England 238-9 v Australia|
Australia took an early grip on the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street as England's batting frailties were exposed once again.
Denied victory at Old Trafford by the rain as England retained the Ashes with a draw, Australia boosted their hopes of coming from 2-0 down to draw the series by reducing the hosts to 238-9 at the close of day one.
After winning the toss, England had battled their way to 149-2 on a slow pitch, but they lost seven wickets for 65 runs as Australia took control.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon found a testing line and length to take 4-42, while the other wickets were shared among Australia's impressive quartet of seamers.
Captain Alastair Cook top-scored for England with 51 and Jonathan Trott made a fluent 49, but it was a day to forget for the hosts' other batsmen as they fell to a combination of intelligent, accurate bowling and reckless batting.
Cook's men have yet to post a total in excess of 400 this series and once again it will be down to their bowlers to right the wrongs of those paid to score runs.
The day was in the balance when England took tea on 155-4, but the momentum swung drastically in Australia's favour when Bell was caught at mid-off trying to hit Lyon over the top in the first over after the interval.
Matt Prior and Jonny Bairstow dug in during an arduous stand of 34 in 19 overs, but when both departed in quick succession England were in deep trouble.
Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann fell trying to take on short balls from Ryan Harris and only some late resistance from Tim Bresnan and James Anderson, who struck four fours, prevented England from being bowled out in a day.
The hosts, who avoided the temptation to select Graham Onions on his home ground, made a solid if unspectacular start to their innings as they saw out the first 17 overs of the first Ashes Test to be held at Durham's county ground.
All-rounder Shane Watson made the breakthrough for the tourists as Root feathered a delivery to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Umpire Tony Hill gave him not out, but Australia referred the call and the much-maligned Hot Spot detected the edge.
Trott struck seven fours in an innings of uncharacteristic ease as he motored past Cook to within one run of his fastest Test fifty. But a partnership of 73 was broken when he aimed his 60th delivery - bowled by Lyon - to the leg side and was caught at short leg off inside edge and pad.
Kevin Pietersen signalled his intentions from his first ball when he tried to smash Lyon over the top and almost holed out to midwicket.
In an ugly, skittish innings, Pietersen nearly ran out his captain with a crazy single and almost played on. His demise for 26 actually came to a defensive shot as a thin nick was snaffled behind the stumps.
Just four more runs had been added when Cook was lbw shouldering arms to a ball from Ashes debutant Jackson Bird that nipped back and rapped his front pad.
Lyon, who was hit for three sixes in two overs by Pietersen and Bell during their vital 115-run partnership in the first innings at Old Trafford, exacted full revenge when he followed up with the wicket of Bell.
Aiming another huge drive at the off-spinner, Bell simply skewed the ball to mid-off, where Harris took a tumbling catch.
Australia successfully reviewed an lbw appeal to remove Prior for 17 after Peter Siddle angled a ball into his pads, and Bairstow, who took 77 balls to score 14, attempted to sweep Lyon and was trapped leg before.
Broad added only three before slapping Harris wastefully to point and Swann had managed 13 when he top-edged a pull to Lyon at deep square leg.
Anderson's late flurry belatedly provided England fans with something to cheer but the day belonged indisputably to Australia.