7 Jan 2018

Australia charge towards victory at SCG

5:42 pm on 7 January 2018

England lost openers Alastair Cook and Mark Stoneman inside the first six overs of their second innings and stumbled to tea on 25 for two on the fourth day of the fifth Ashes test on Sunday, still 278 runs from forcing their hosts to bat again.

Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.

Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh. Photo: Photosport

Brothers Shaun and Mitchell Marsh earlier both scored centuries on a scorching fourth morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground to put Australia into a position where they could declare on 649 for seven an hour into the second session.

England, already 3-0 down in the series with the urn relinquished, had toiled in the field in temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius with little success and their luck did not change when they came out to bat.

Cook quickly hit a single off his pads to become the sixth batsman to score 12,000 runs in tests but the ovation had barely been completed before Stoneman was dismissed for a duck by pace spearhead Mitchell Starc.

England skipper Joe Root reviewed the lbw decision to no avail but there was some fortune on the next delivery when Josh Hazlewood induced an edge from Cook only for Shaun Marsh to drop him at first slip.

Cook was to last just two more overs before spinner Nathan Lyon bowled him for 10 with a peach of a delivery that pitched at middle stump and took the top of the former England captain's off stump.

Skipper Joe Root (eight not out) and James Vince (six not out) will be charged with keeping England's slim hopes of saving the test alive heading into the final session.

The Marsh brothers had earlier joined the Chappell siblings Ian and Greg (1972) and the Waugh twins Mark and Steve (2001) in scoring centuries in the same innings in an Ashes test.

Shaun Marsh made 156 from 291 balls before being run out by a Stoneman direct hit just after lunch, with Mitchell having departed for 101 on the delivery after securing his second century when Tom Curran took out his off stump.

The brothers both scored their second centuries of the series in a brilliant 169-run partnership that built on the mammoth 171 Usman Khawaja scored on Saturday.

It would have been a particularly sweet partnership given Shaun was a controversial selection for the series, his eighth recall to the test line-up being met with disbelief in some quarters, and Mitchell brought in for the third test in Perth.

Mitchell was the second to reach the milestone about an hour into the morning with two runs past point and Shaun was in such a hurry to congratulate his little brother that he almost ran him out.

Shaun, 34, had started the day on 98 with Australia 479 for four and took just five balls to secure his sixth test century by crunching Moeen Ali through the covers for one of the 18 fours he scored in his 403-minute knock.