PERTH: England’s tail collapsed dramatically after a record fifth-wicket partnership by centurions Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow had given the tourists the ascendancy on the second day of the third Ashes Test in Perth on Friday.
England were all out for 403 at lunch after losing their last six wickets for just 35 runs, having won the toss and elected to bat.
Australia lead the series 2-0 and can regain the Ashes with victory at the WACA Ground, although heavy rain is forecast for the final two days.
Bairstow put a controversial few weeks behind him to notch his fourth Test century as part of a 237-run stand with Malan, whose maiden Test ton came to an end just before the interval.
The pair notched a new record fifth-wicket partnership for England against Australia, beating a long-standing mark set in 1938 by Eddie Paynter and Denis Compton at Trent Bridge.
Having come together with England under pressure at 131 for four shortly after lunch Thursday, the pair breathed life back into their team’s Ashes defence.
Malan’s wicket was the first to fall Friday, with his breakthrough innings finally came to an end when he was brilliantly caught by substitute fielder Peter Handscomb from the bowling of Nathan Lyon.
His departure for 140 had England at 368 for five, and signalled a sudden collapse for the tourists, with Moeen Ali lasting just two balls for his duck and Chris Woakes making just eight runs.
Bairstow was then bowled by Mitchell Starc for 119 as the capitulation accelerated.
The wicketkeeper-batsman had responded to the challenge of being promoted to bat at six with his fourth Test century.
It was a welcome tonic for the 28-year-old, who has endured a controversial tour with a bizarre head-butt incident involving Australian opener Cameron Bancroft at a Perth bar, and a war of words with the home side, on and off the field.
The Australians dropped three chances on the opening day, but Handscomb and Pat Cummins both took brilliant catches on Friday.