ASHES: Aussie bowlers expose cracks as English buckle in the heat

There's much more than bash about Buttler

Woeful Poms limp from bad to worse

AUSTRALIA’S phalanx of bowlers made light of the heat, and of England, again, taking its last six wickets for 71.

Immediately, reserves Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile appeared on the WACA Ground.

This was the middle of another scorching day.

Power had failed to part of the ground, and the butter that would not melt in mouths in this testy series liquidised in lunchpacks.

While all others at the ground sought shade and sustenance, Bollinger and Coulter-Nile spent the lunch break running wind sprints on the ground until they were doubled over with pain.

The subliminal message to England was straight from boot camp: nothing is too hard for this assemblage of Australian bowlers, nor are they done yet.

Watching over them was bowling coach Craig McDermott.

In his first stint as coach, McDermott made a firm point of all-for-one-and-one-for-all, also of pitching up.

Personal issues intervened, but McDermott rejoined the team in October, and his influence is again apparent.

An attack that when considered individual by individual at the start of the series might have been thought rag-tag — remember the scepticism about Johnson all those days ago? — has become greater than the sum of its parts, and the most irresistible force in the series.

The McDermott factor should not be overstated.

Without him, the bowlers kept Australia in the series in England this year.

Under him, they have grown into an even more hardened group.

In eight Anglo-Australian Tests this year, England has not made more than 375 in an innings.

Only once in five innings in this series has England batted for longer than a day, and that was in a hopelessly lost cause in Adelaide.

Their excellence is self-compounding: while saving themselves from overwork, they have returned England’s bowlers to the field sooner than they would prefer in every match.

A third collateral effect emerged yesterday when Stuart Broad was unable to bowl in Australia’s second innings because of Johnson’s Sophie’s Choice ball to him in the morning: bowled, or hit in the foot and out lbw?

Involuntarily, he chose lbw and a bruising.

Australia’s bowling in this match, in vile conditions, has again been even, disciplined and relentless.

These words best fit the seamers, but they are true also of Nathan Lyon’s off-spin.

Johnson has been the enforcer, Ryan Harris a model of the art of seam bowling (it is not all bouncers and bluster) and Peter Siddle has enjoyed the fruits of being underrated; as far as he is concerned,

Kevin Pietersen can spend the rest of their careers trying to hit him out of various parks.

Shane Watson is the enigma: how he would love to bat as he bowls, tightly and unwavering.

But a bowler gets a bad ball back, of course.

Cricket must be won over days, but also in split seconds.

England’s collapse yesterday could be traced back to two causes.

One was the slow asphyxiation of Pietersen and Alastair Cook on Saturday afternoon, after which England must have felt that there was no way out.

The other was a ball from Johnson on Sunday morning that hit a crack and jagged towards first slip, after which England must have felt that there was no way to stay in.

Alarmed, Ben Stokes fell two balls later.

When England was all out, no one Australian bowler was preferred to lead the team in.

This had been death by daisy chain. But there was no sense of celebration.

As far as they were concerned, until the Ashes are won, nothing is.

England returned to the field for Australia’s second innings a decimated and dispirited lot.

Australian openers Dave Warner and Chris Rogers scored almost at will, and soon had put on 100.

Matt Prior missed a stumping, Cook dropped a catch.

These were mistakes that they would not have made in England in the northern summer, nor as recently as day one in Brisbane.

Simply, England reached its breaking point. The cracks in the pitch, shrivelling in the heat, will be wider still today.

England will look at them and see an X-ray of its soul.

Perversely, the excellence of Australia’s bowlers now becomes a problem.

Even as Australia basks in the here-and-now, provision must be made for the future; Harris is 34, Johnson, 32, Watson, 32, Siddle, 29, and Lyon, 26.

Under modern work practices, if the Ashes are secured here, it is probable that one will be rested for the Boxing Day Test, which might be prudent but will lessen the occasion.

Beyond, it is improbable that this attack will play together in another Ashes series.

Pat Howard and John Inverarity will earn their money.

Meantime, seen in the WACA nets yesterday was a certain Pat Cummins.

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