Johnson on the warpath as England struggle in Adelaide
Michael Clarke’s seventh Ashes hundred has put Australia in a commanding position in the second test at the Adelaide Oval and the home side are now 4/6 to win the match.
Clarke started the day with a risky – and mistimed – chip over cover against Graeme Swann but soon found his stride.
Australia’s captain was ably supported by Brad Haddin and took the game to England with some quick scoring and despite suffering from a bad back, managed 148 runs.
Along with Haddin – who eventually fell to Broad for 118 – they turned what was a finely-balanced match after day one, into a pressure-cooker situation for the visitors.
Bet on Australia to win at 4/6
With number 10 Ryan Harris plundering 55 runs from 54 balls, Clarke decided to declare on 570/9 and make England face a testing 90 minutes before the close of play.
That was long enough for Mitchell Johnson to uproot the off-stump of England captain Alastair Cook with a 92mph missile and leave the visitors on 35/1 at the end of day two.
It was almost worse than that for the Three Lions as a dodgy call nearly produced a run-out in the final over of the day, before a Johnson lbw appeal against Michael Carberry was turned down.
That decision would have been overturned on appeal and England will be breathing a sigh of relief.
Bet on Kevin Pietersen to top-score at 11/4
England – who are now 25/1 to win the match – wasted several chances during Australia’s innings to at least give them a chance of victory.
Their uncharacteristically poor play in the field has now put them in a position where the best they can hope for is a draw at 13/10.
However whilst this is a flat and relatively tame pitch, Johnson’s aggressive bowling is consistently topping 90 mph and there is a strong chance that 19 more England wickets will fall in this game.
Jonathan Trott and Cook have been the solid backbone of this team for several years but with Trott back in England and Cook already gone, there will be a lot of pressure on Joe Root and Ian Bell.
If the patient batsmen fall early on day three then the visitors could really struggle.
Bet on Mitchell Johnson to take most wickets at 6/4
Having said that, if England can negotiate Johnson safely then this is the sort of pitch where runs can be scored quite comfortably; it’s a flat pitch with small boundaries.
Whilst Clarke averages over 100 at Adelaide (as does Haddin), the same can be said of Kevin Pietersen who has played at the Oval twice and averages 129. He is 11/4 to top-score in England’s first innings.
Carberry and Root currently occupy the crease and Carberry should be backed at 5/6 to fall for less than 48 runs.
He already has 20 to his name but averages just 26 in his four Test matches to date and the attacking opener was fortunate to still have his wicket intact at the close of play; he could have gone twice in the final over.
Bet on Australia to win at 4/6
There were some positives for England as Ben Stokes secured the wicket of Clarke – a notable scalp for his maiden Test wicket – and also had Peter Siddle caught behind.
But it was Stuart Broad who was the leading wicket-taker for the visitors with three, the same as spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar managed between them.
Australia’s mainbowling threat is a rejuvenated Mitchell Johnson, especially with the new ball.
He is 6/4 to take the most wickets in the first innings and already has one to his name.
Before this Test began he had 19 Adelaide wickets at an average of less than 20 and he looks banker material to strike once again.