Tell ya story walking.
Tell ya story walking.

Conspiracy rages in Ashes inferno

ENGLAND needs a miracle - or rain - to prevent it from going 1-0 down in the series.

The Aussies completely dominated day four, skittling the tourists' middle and lower order before opening batsmen David Warner and Cameron Bancroft set the perfect platform to reach 0/114 at stumps.

Australia needs just 56 runs to take a 1-0 series lead when play resumes on Monday morning.

Here are all the talking points from the day's play.

CONSPIRACY EMERGES AFTER DIVISIVE CONTROVERSY

TIM Paine was confident he was too quick for Moeen Ali when he whipped off the bails after Nathan Lyon beat the left-hander's outside edge and the third umpire agreed.

After closely scrutinising several slow-motion replays the man upstairs said Ali didn't have any part of his foot behind the crease as he stretched forward to defend.

It was a huge moment in the match as Ali (40) was looking dangerous in partnership with Jonny Bairstow, but not everyone was happy to see the English No. 6 sent from the field.

"I disagree with that decision Heals (Ian Healy)," Michael Clarke said in commentary. "I thought he had something behind the line and the benefit of the doubt had to go to the batsman."

Shane Warne disagreed.

"There is not enough reason to do anything other than give that out," Warne said. "I don't think he had anything behind the line whatsoever."

The man at the centre of the controversy, Ali, also said he had to "respect" the decision.

"In terms of my stumping dismissal, you have to respect that - I was more disappointed with not getting my foot back, more than anything," he said after the day's play.

"We need to get some wickets [on day five]. It might not mean much but to get some will be good for our confidence."

The plot thickened when a conspiracy theory emerged on social media suggesting the width of the crease was thicker where Ali's foot was planted, preventing him from having part of his boot behind the line.

Former England captain Michael Atherton described the line as "wonky and crooked" - but believes the correct decision was still made.

"You still have to have part of your foot behind the line as is, not as it should be," he told Sky Sports.

ENGLAND DESCEND INTO CLASSIC POMMY PESSIMISM

It’s happening again.
It’s happening again.

IT'S already getting ugly in England.

The fear of another Ashes whitewash has already crept into the minds of English cricket commentators.

History shows the bloodbath of English cricket commentators analysing another potential English sporting failure is never far behind the moment panic and fear sets in.

It's already on its way, according to some English cricket greats.

The lifeless performance from the English attack against Aussie openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft is a major concern for the tourists.

With the contest still far from undecided, England's five-man attack has been accused of giving up the First Test before a ball was even bowled in Australia's second innings chase of England's lead of 169 runs.

English great Graeme Swann was scathing in his analysis of the English attack.

He labelled Moeen Ali and Jake Ball unfit - and then accused the English bowlers of giving up.

"I think more than anything they need to look at how ineffective some of their bowlers have been," Swann told BT Sport.

"Moeen Ali has been half the bowler than Nathan Lyon has been in this game.

"Moeen Ali, I don't think he's fit. He's got no action, no verve through the crease. Jake Ball, I don't think he's fit either and Chris Woakes hasn't bowled well.

"There's a lot of problems in the England bowling attack at the minute. I don't believe all five of those bowlers walked on the field this evening believing, 'We can win this game'.

Former England captain Michael Atherton told Sky Sports there is "lots of gloomy stuff for England".

"What's become clear in the last few days as the pitch has dried and quickened is that Australia's four-man attack just looks a little bit more dangerous than England's five.

"Cummins has provided more cutting edge that Woakes and Ball and Nathan Lyon has out-bowled Moeen Ali, who looks a little underdone in the game so far.

"Not good news I'm afraid."

GOAT ENHANCES HIS REPUTATION

 

Joe Root couldn’t convert his start.
Joe Root couldn’t convert his start.

Nathan Lyon has enhanced his reputation as the GOAT (greatest of all time) by completing a stunning bowling performance in Brisbane.

The off-spinner was Australia's best in the first innings even if his figures (2/78 off 36 overs) didn't do him justice and he was even better in the second dig as he continued to extract significant turn and bounce from the Gabba deck.

After Mark Stoneman and Joe Root blunted the home side's attack for the first 50 minutes of day four before Lyon struck with the perfect off-break. Bowling from around the wicket to Stoneman, he drew the opener into a forward defence and spun the ball away to catch the outside edge and Steve Smith did the rest at first slip.

Getting better by the day.
Getting better by the day.

It was a case of deja vu when he sent Dawid Malan packing in identical fashion for four and he got the key scalp of the dangerous Moeen Ali for 40 when it was looking like the No. 6 was about to wrest momentum away from the Aussies.

Again it was another spitting cobra that did the damage, Lyon ripping the ball past Ali's edge before Tim paine whipped the bails off to catch the England star short of his ground.

Lyon finished with 3/67 from 24 overs as he became the third bowler in the world to take 50 wickets this calendar year, joining South African quick Kagiso Rabada and Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath.

So often in his career Lyon's position in the team has come under question despite his outstanding record (274 wickets in 70 Tests) but he entered this series full of confidence after brilliant outings in India and Bangladesh.

All the talk before the Ashes was about the quality of Australia's pace attack but Lyon has shown he could be the key leather-flinger this series, especially in light of the glut of left-handers in the England order.

KP RESPONDS TO COPS' SLEDGE

KP is still at war with Brisbane.
KP is still at war with Brisbane.

Pietersen spoke again on Sunday about his dislike of Queensland's capital city, reflecting on his 100th Test match played at the Gabba at the start of the 2013-14 Ashes series.

He jokingly said he tried to appreciate the occasion, but it only took him a minute to remember where he was playing and it soured the milestone.

As England collapsed on day four Queensland Police took the opportunity to send the cricket legend a parting message.

'THAT WILL BE DRIVING HIM MAD'

The one question mark about Joe Root - the world's No. 2 ranked Test batsman - is his ability to convert fifties into centuries.

He scored 51 on Sunday before he was trapped LBW by Josh Hazlewood the ball after reaching his half century. The dismissal was almost identical to how he was dismissed by a Pat Cummins inswinger in the first innings.

Root's half century at the Gabba was his 46th in Tests, but he's only scored 13 tons. Just five of his previous 25 fifties have produced triple-figure scores.

Conversion rates separate the very good players from the great players, and Channel Nine's Mark Nicholas said Root's glaring problem will continue to eat away at him until he finds a remedy.

"I can tell you what does eat away at Joe Root, very understandably, is what we have sort of come to know as his conversion rate," Nicholas said. "The amount of times he gets to 50 or past 50 but doesn't go on to make 100 or even a bigger score - that is driving him mad.

"It is the fact he got to 50 and got out again (today) as much as the way he got out that will niggle with him."

By comparison, Australian captain Steve Smith's conversion rate is exceptional. He's scored 22 fifties and 21 hundreds.

 

WARNER, BANCROFT KNOCK STUFFING OUT OF POMS

Australia doesn't have a great reputation when it comes to chasing modest totals in the fourth innings of a Test but David Warner and Cameron Bancroft made sure no nerves would infiltrate the home side's dressing room.

The pair put on an opening partnership of ... to squash whatever hope the Poms had of causing a boilover when they came out with the new ball after tea.

England will have been hoping a couple of quick wickets would send the shakes through Australia's batting line-up that has a tendency to fail to provide Steve Smith with sufficient support. But Bancroft and Warner hosed down any early optimism.

On debut, Bancroft was solid in defence early on and gradually became more confident as his innings progressed, dancing down the wicket to hit Moeen Ali over his head for six.

Warner started quietly as Joe Root directed men out to the fence on either side of the wicket to prevent him getting underway with a flurry of boundaries. But he dealt with the new tactics well, milking ones and twos to get himself in before eventually climbing through the gears as he tried to secure victory on Saturday evening.

He started swinging harder and with more frequency, pumping Chris Woakes through midwicket for two fours with pull shots and punishing anything loose from the inexperienced Jake Ball.



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