The Ashes - Third Test - Day Three: England collapse as Aussies hit back
England's decision to select Chris Tremlett for the third Test has been vindicated - but precious little else has gone right for the tourists at the WACA.
Andrew Strauss' team finished day three needing a highly improbable rearguard to escape Australia's west coast with their 1-0 Ashes lead intact.
Michael Hussey's second hundred of the series helped the hosts to 309 all out, setting England 391 to win in almost seven sessions on a still feasible if pacy pitch.
But if it was an acceptable effort for Tremlett - with his maiden five-wicket innings haul in Tests - and others to limit Australia after Hussey (116) and Shane Watson (95) had both batted well, England's realistic hopes of a famous chase foundered.
Optimism was already draining away before two late wickets in successive overs, with the score stuck on 81, left the tourists five down.
Strauss (15), Alastair Cook (13), Jonathan Trott (31), Kevin Pietersen (3) and Paul Collingwood (11), caught at third slip with the last ball of the day, all departed leaving just night-watchman James Anderson unbeaten without scoring.
Tremlett finished with match figures of eight for 150, and England could be satisfied they had picked the right man.
There was nothing especially cunning, of course, about calling up the 6ft 8in Surrey seamer to replace the injured Stuart Broad at a venue renowned for its extra pace and bounce.
Even so, Tremlett's inclusion was an oasis of qualified success in a match which has hardly gone to plan for England.
Tremlett's quizzical demeanour spoke volumes as he reflected on his career-best performance, in the full knowledge that it would almost certainly come to nought for his team.
"On a personal level I'm delighted to get five wickets, but it's about winning a team game - so it takes a bit of the shine off," he said. "It's pretty obvious the guys are disappointed to get out, because they've put in some pretty impressive performances in the other games."
The 29-year-old nonetheless allowed himself a moment of celebration at his successful return to Test cricket, after more than three years out of the reckoning.
"It's one of the greatest days of my life, getting five wickets," he said.
"It's been a long time - even in first-class cricket. I had seven or eight 'four-fors' for Surrey last season."
Tremlett was one of five English bowlers unable to shift Hussey, though, until the final ball of Australia's innings - after the prolific left-hander had pulled, and also driven through the off-side, expertly to take his series tally to 517 runs.
Tremlett had profited in the first innings from bowling what appeared an ideal length. But under orders, there were a lot more short balls second time round - with mixed results. "At times we went with that tactic. We set the field accordingly, and the plans at times didn't work," he conceded.
"But when we come up with a plan we try to stick to it.
"I was given a plan with Straussy. We discussed it; we went with it. When you go with a plan, you go with it 100%.
"We went with that plan to (Steven) Smith and we got him out; we tried it with Hussey, and it didn't work with him so well."
Australia's Peter Siddle has been used relatively sparingly, in a four-man pace attack. But there was plenty of satisfaction in his voice as he spoke of his team's collective output.
"It was a big point in the game for us to get five wickets, a massive moment for us," he said.
England's champion off-spinner Graeme Swann finished with match figures of two for 103 from 25 overs, and did not have the impact he might have hoped for.
Australia decided on an all pace attack - sound judgment, according to Siddle.
"It probably eases the pressure," he said.
"You don't have to bowl those big, long spells. We can have short, sharp cracks at it - and it gives us more chance to stay at top pace."
He also believes Australia were rewarded for bowling a fuller length than England.
"As you've seen tonight, when we've pitched the ball up we've had success ... getting the edges and making them play.
"Mike Hussey's probably not a player you want to bowl too short to, and he showed that again today."
"If you pitch it up there and get it straight, that's how you're going to get most guys out."
Should Australia prevail as anticipated tomorrow, Siddle believes the outcome here might ask the toughest questions of England. "There was
obviously a lot of pressure on us in this match to get a result," he said.
"There's still a lot of work to be done, but it does make a big change for us.
"It's starting to turn for us now."
England may therefore face the prospect of having to regroup in the final two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney, 10 scheduled days of cricket in under two weeks over Christmas and the new year.
"It's hard enough getting through five days of Test cricket, let alone a couple back-to-back," added Siddle.
"We hope we've put a little bit of damage into them after this match."