Dawid Malan celebrates England’s first century of the series.
Dawid Malan celebrates England’s first century of the series.

England battler whacks Aussies at WACA

ENGLAND defied three decades of Ashes torture in Perth to mount a stunning resurgence that has enlivened the series.

Australia had a shocker in the field and are now battling for answers after Dawid Malan smashed the first ton by an Englishman all tour and combined with Jonny Bairstow for a momentum-shifting 174-run unbeaten partnership at the WACA.

The hosts could almost visualise the precious urn in their hands when they were rocking England back with a brutal onslaught of rapid short-pitched bowling to make Dennis Lillee proud, but in the space of two sessions Steve Smith's side lost control and will begin day two with it all to do.

England went to stumps at 4-305 and are in the driver's seat to dictate terms at a WACA ground where they have been landslide losers in their past seven Test matches.

Australia were left to rue a huge miss approaching stumps last night, when Cameron Bancroft grassed a very catchable chance at third slip to give Malan a crucial life on 92 when Mitchell Starc was steaming in with the second new ball.

Malan gleefully took his chance and posted a maiden Test hundred to inspire a dressing room that has suddenly sprung back to life.

"I was so emotional," said Malan of his landmark ton that came after England were in trouble four down for 131.

"I didn't really know what to do when I got a hundred, I almost starting crying to be honest when it happened.

"I was under pressure coming in. It was nice to score some runs when the team needed it."

Josh Hazlewood gave Mark Stoneman the most vicious of examinations - at one point striking him brutally on the helmet - but overall Australia had a poor day and let England dictate terms.

"It was a little disappointing. No one tries to drop catches but when the wicket is that flat and that hard for our bowlers it's certainly disappointing," said keeper Tim Paine, who took an absolute screamer - one-handed above his head - to ultimately dismiss Stoneman off Starc. It was a controversial moment for DRS that insighted an outburst from England captain Joe Root in the sheds.

"Hopefully we'll come back and get a couple of early ones and move on.

"The bowlers seem OK. They obviously would have liked to bowl a bit better or better for longer."

Dawid Malan (left) and Jonny Bairstow walk from the field after combining for a 174-run stand.
Dawid Malan (left) and Jonny Bairstow walk from the field after combining for a 174-run stand.

Bairstow had made headlines in Perth for all the wrong reasons with headbutt gate, but he justified his move up the batting order with an emphatic knock (75 not out) that he hopes to turn into a scintillating hundred of his own when play resumes today.

Australia showed the first signs of real sloppiness and anxiousness for the series so far as they stumbled with two basic drop catches in slips.

An absolute sitter put down by Mitchell Marsh off Stoneman (56) earlier in the day only cost four runs on the scoreboard, but it was a significant blow given it robbed a firing Hazlewood the chance to fully cash in on a world class spell of bowling.

Steve Smith’s men had a tough day in the field.
Steve Smith’s men had a tough day in the field.

Nathan Lyon also dropped Stoneman off Hazlewood - although it was would have been a stunner - but in the end the big right-armer didn't get any reward for a spell where he had England's batsmen cowering in fear and pinned to the crease.

Lyon didn't threaten like he has with the ball in Brisbane and Adelaide - a major change in proceedings given he has been able to dictate play so expertly - and the quicks, while often brilliant, were at times inconsistent with their lengths.

Malan has been a cricketer that has shown moments of flashiness, but until hadn't given any indication he had the game to tough out a Test match hundred.


Mitchell Starc appeals to the umpire.
Mitchell Starc appeals to the umpire.

Dismissed as a "nobody" before the series, Malan was last night happy to smile at proving the critics wrong.

"It was good fun actually, I really enjoyed it - the pace these guys come with," he said.

"It tested you in different ways but tested your heart as well. It's exciting to walk out there. It's not comfortable, you don't feel you enjoy it at times but looking back it's great fun to get through those situations."

In the lead up to the Test, Mitchell Johnson shined a spotlight on Bairstow's failure to live-up to expectations, but the talented right-hander yesterday announced himself as an Ashes batsman.

Alastair Cook's future appears in the balance after the former England captain was dispatched lbw cheaply by Starc in his 150th Test match.

Cook presented a dejected figure as he trudged off the field for just 7 in the fifth over, but at the other end Stoneman was peeling off the boundaries, taking advantage of a lightning fast outfield.

Hazlewood was the next to strike when he nicked off James Vince, and then it was over to young bull Cummins to claim the prized wicket of Root.

So far this series Hazlewood and Cummins have shared the honours of dismissing the head of the English snake, and this time it was a meek strangling down the leg-side that sent Root on his way.

Root made just 20 and his tour just keeps unravelling by the minute as the 26-year-old skipper continues to oversee a team low on discipline.

Cummins followed up with a sizzling short ball that whizzed past the nose of Dawid Malan first up, but the left-hander found his feet and raced impressively to 50.

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