Australia have the upper hand at stumps on day one against England in Perth as Michael Clarke once again won the toss, this time in his 100th Test Match as Steven Smith stole the show with a century as the hosts batted all day to finish on 326-6.
It was also a special day for England captain Alastair Cook who was also presented with his 100th Test cap ahead of the third Ashes Test of the series and the eighth of 2013.
It was a rollercoaster day for Cook before the match had even started after losing his third toss of the series and that continued as he led England to a state of dominance, reducing the hosts to 143-5. That was until Steve Smith and the increasingly reliable Brad Haddin formed a superb sixth wicket partnership of 124 which came to an end thanks to a breakthrough by Ben Stokes who kept his place in the XI.
Tim Bresnan replaced Monty Panesar for Andy Flower’s men which was the only change across both teams as Australia fielded the same team for the third consecutive Test, meaning they had full faith with Ryan Harris after his injury problems in recent times.
Wickets fell at regular intervals throughout the first two sessions as the hosts failed to build a partnership with Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann both chipping in with two wickets each but neither could remove Smith who completed his second Test century.
James Anderson started the proceedings though after a piece of brilliance in the field ran out opener Chris Rodgers for 11 which brought Shane Watson to the crease to join the inform David Warner.
The all-rounder didn’t hang around long and he was walking back to the pavilion 29 balls later as Broad had him caught by Swann in the slips for 18. That brought the key man and captain Clarke to the crease as he helped form the second highest stand of the day with Warner before they were both removed by Swann.
Warner did complete his half-century with a patient 60 but the tourists had their tails up and George Bailey was removed by Broad, Pietersen catching him out for just seven before Haddin joined Smith to haul the Australian’s back into the game on a good pitch.
The wicket keeper reached 55 before falling to the pacey Stokes, Haddin could only pull him to James Anderson at midwicket. The visitors then took the new ball at 304-6 but Micthell Johnson was not in the mood to end the day on a quiet note as he plundered 39 runs to support Smith.
The number five will start day two in Western Australia on 103* and aiming to edge the hosts closer to an imposing total of around 400 which would once again have the English backs up against the wall as the tourists fight to keep their hopes of retaining the Ashes alive.