Ian Bell scored his second consecutive 109, while Jonny Bairstow and Jonathan Trott chipped in with half-centuries of their own. England’s middle-order threatened to take the game away from Australia, before clever captaincy and some wily part-time spin from Steven Smith got them back in.

Bell became only the fourth Englishman to score centuries in three consecutive Ashes matches when he made 109 on Thursday.

In his very first over, Smith got rid of Bell with a vicious turner which went in the red zone in the host broadcaster's ball revolutions counter, took Bell's edge and was lapped up by Clarke in first slip. If that was a lucky break, Smith said, hold on, I'm not done yet, as he snapped up the wickets of Bairstow and Matt Prior in the space of four overs to drown England from 271 for four to 283 for seven.