The morning went very much to England's plan with 132 runs added for the loss of Cook. Pietersen's - truly a renaissance man - batted with complete authority over the Australian attack, with only Harris commanding respect. Siddle, Bollinger and especially Doherty were dismissed in a flood of boundaries.
Collingwood has taken the chance to have an extended net against an attack which is tired and worn out from beating itself against the English brick wall. As the only Englishman short on runs, his confidence has grown and his trademark placements through the on side showed it.
Ponting continued to follow the ball and place fieldsmen there. When Pietersen smashed Doherty over the fence at wide long off, I was surprised Ponting didn't place a man up in the crowd amongst the bears and Fred Flintstone. Along with his closing of barn door fielding policy has been a number of position placements so unorthodox they verged on the ridiculous. It's one thing to place a man to stifle a shot but it relies on bowlers to execute the plan. The three men within cuddling distance short and square on the off side hoping to catch Pietersen's lofted square driving looks fairly pointless when the batsmen is motoring to 150 through the holes in the field left vacant by the unorthodox. By the time it works, England should have enough for a declaration.
Strauss and his management team are shrewd and that's why England won't bat beyond tea. With a lead of 204 and the potential for at least another 100, perhaps 150 in the next session, that wil be all England will need. Rain will take the last day, so England may only get four sessions to capture the ten Australia wickets. With North turning a couple square out of Bollinger's footmarks outside the right handers off stump, the Swann will feel confident he can prove too much for Ponting's brittle batting order. The other advantage of putting Australia in for the last session will be to cash in on the despondency that is evident in Australia's game. It many years since an Australian side has misfielded, returned badly from shorter boundaries, dropped catches and been incapable of breaking an opposition batting side.
That English run tally has reached 4-966 in the last two innings.
This Session: England
Sessions this Test: England 7, Australia 0
Sessions this Series: England 13, Australia 6, Shared 3
Tea & Stumps
With rain falling and weather radar looking threatening, England have batted themselves into a winning position with another hundred runs added in the middle session with little or no risk. Pietersen lifted his second Test double century with mostly conventional strokeplay. His driving and play of his legs was supreme and he was particularly hard again on Doherty. Ponting found no answers to the questions the Englishmen asked. Bell played almost a cameo innings and raced into the forties with probably the best batting of this long, run heavy innings. He drove, cut and hooked with absolute clean precision and will score less than other batsmen in the series for England because he has to wait patiently at six until those above are sick of batting.
The Australian fielding continued to look ragged and most of the Australians showed signs of suffering under the domination of the English. Harris alone has made the batsmen work and his obvious anger at putting a ball on Bell's pads so he could put it through the field to the boundary was an encouragement. He and Watson were the only bowlers who gave the appearance that this second consecutive thrashing hurt.
More worrying was Katich leaving the ground with a heel injury that had him hobbling and Michael Clarke moving very slowly and doing some stretches to his back just before the break.
England have enough runs and had it not been raining, Strauss had his opportune moment to declare with the possibility of Ponting have to alter his batting order because of injury. The wicket was starting to take ball movement judging by the amount of jag back that Watson achieved to trap Paul Collingwood and the turn that North had extracted. Given the forward forecast, a lead of 306 and the wicket starting to give encouragement to the bowlers, the next team we see bat in this Test should be Australia.
England hold three of the aces in this one sided game of cards but Australia may well hold the weather ace yet.
This session: England
Sessions This Test: England 8, Australia 0
Sessions This Series: England 14, Australia 6, Shared 3