Man of the day: James Anderson
James Anderson was England's star turn on day two at the MCG, even if he didn't feel at his best.
Last Updated: 27/12/13 9:02am
The Lancastrian - the talisman of the attack - had found wickets hard to come by (not just on this trip, but since his match-winning haul at Trent Bridge at the start of the summer) and had been peppered when called upon to bat.
Having been part of Andrew Strauss' highly successful side that toured Down Under three years ago, this trip was in danger of seeing Anderson best remembered for two moments he'd rather forget.
Smashed for a record-equalling 28 in an over by George Bailey in the third Test in Perth, Anderson then became the final wicket to fall in a match that saw the hosts regain the miniature urn.
Left playing for nothing but pride in the remaining two matches, Anderson showed plenty of it on day two in Melbourne as the visitors finally found something to smile about.
Perhaps his 11 not out with the bat lifted his spirits, perhaps it was the sight of a pitch more familiar to what he might find back in the green, green grass of home. Whatever it was, something spurred the seamer on.
He ended a rather painful 14-ball knock from David Warner before lunch and then claimed the prized scalp of Michael Clarke in the afternoon, the Australia captain paying a dear price for leaving alone a delivery that went on to clip the top of his off stump.
Not content there, he went some way to avenging that mauling at the hands of Bailey at the WACA by dismissing the same batsman for a 19-ball duck.
It needed the help of technology to send Bailey back for nought, umpire Aleem Dar initially denying England's appeals for a catch behind the wicket. Technology, more specifically real-time Snicko' suggested there had been an edge through to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, and the on-field decision was overturned.
Anderson might have been the most expensive of the England seamers, but he also looked the most dangerous. His haul of 3-50 helped reduce Australia to 164-9 at stumps, meaning a first-innings deficit of 91.
There was no surprise to see a smile on the Burnley-born bowler's face when he spoke to Sky Sports straight after the close, even if he did admit to Ian Ward that he hadn't even felt in the best of form.
"I think today is probably the worst I've felt, rhythm wise," he said. "I've felt pretty good in the games beforehand, just not quite got the rewards for it."