England's chances to win the Ashes in the 4th is all but over. The Baggy Green are just 5 wickets away from victory with a massive lead in tact to take the Ashes down to the 5th test.
It could have been 4 wickets, but Marcus North (the Centurion) was unable to latch onto a catch at slip off Mitchell Johnson's bowling on the last ball of the day.
Michael Clarke (93) and Marcus North (110) once again built a formiddable partnership and well and truely through England out of the game. Pup landed short of a century being caught on the crease LBW as he tried to reach a third century in the Ashes. After he went on last time to make a century, and Marcus North fell short, the roles reversed and cricket revealed its mysterious side once again.
Pup held is momentum throughout the innings, which gave Marcus North the time needed to build his innings at his own pace knowing the runs were adding up.
In another solid paternship with Mitchell Johnson, followed by a really entertaining innings from tail-ender Stuart Clark, Marcus brought his innings up in fine style with great support from his lower-order team mates. Similar to Phillip Hughes' century in South Africa, Marcus heaved a slog sweep to the deep mid-on boundary, charged down the wicket raising his bat and victoriously declaring, "You beauty"! A terrific innings, really holding true to Test cricket.
Stuart Clark deserves the pat on the back with his quickfire innings, where he effortlessly smashed 3 sixes, including two in an over off Stuart Broad. At the same time Stuart Broad also managed to pick up his career best with 6 wickets, but the lack of celebration was understandable.
Marcus North has an interesting style of batting which he hasn't changed taking his batting to the elite level. He almost whips the bat with his shots and his height which allows him to get on top of short pitched deliveries, as well as the power he generate with Text book cover drives, holds him in a strong position for our middle-order. He has promised to aim for consistency, and so far he is holding true to that.
Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss started off strongly against a pressuring open spell from Peter Siddle, and most English supporters probably felt relief sensing the day would close with 10 wickets in hand. Not to be, as Ben Hilfnehaus struck to fateful blows as he dismissed Strauss and Ravi Bopara in two balls, and wasn't that far off from a hat-trick! But the damage continued as Mitchell Johnson marked his comeback taking 3 wickets in a mighty impressive closing spell for the day. The delivery that would have no doubt restored endless belief in Mitchell's bowling was the delivery to dismiss Cook. Fully pitched, late swing away from the left hander, just catching the edge of the bat, and taken low by Brad Haddin. The big wicket was taken, and England's lower order have a tough task ahead in what may be over with in 1 session of play.
After enormous expectation as the Ashes approached and then personal issues off the field came into context, Mitchell Johnson had alot to deal with, and his performances have been far from convincing. While Mitchell seemed to need a break to clear his mind, the lower totals posted by England, eased the pressure in the bowlers, and his bowling spell to close Day 2 was his best this Ashes series and I have little doubt this may have been the confidence Mitch needed, so supporters can declare, 'He's back!'
Only the third day, so no pressure on the bowler's with the lead still massive, and plenty time to knock away the remaining wickets.
This will be an eye opener to England, knowing how risky it is to go in one specialist batsman short and not performing under the circumstances.
It can happen to any team, but the way it looks England stand the realistic chance in being dismissed close to 100 runs again in their 2nd innings.
This has been a performance the Baggy Green can be proud of and if this is the sign of things to come, the 5th Test will be a thrilling encounter where England will have to raise their game quickly as Australian momentum builds.
Which Australian bowler will deliver the crushing blow? If Mitchell Johnson's performance was anything to go by, it seems Mitch is in-line for it!