It's coming home

Our man Down Under continues to float on cloud nine as England close in on victory at the MCG

By Joe Drabble.   Last Updated: 28/12/10 9:59am

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'The 2010/11 Ashes' - written by Andy Flower, directed by Andrew Strauss.

DRABBLE'S DABBLE It is 4/1 that the first ball of day four of the fourth Test will go for a singleBet now.

Everything England touch is turning to gold in Melbourne and the Ashes urn is now destined to return home from Australia for the first time since 1987.

Today was another of those dream days for England supporters, yet ironically one of Australia's better ones as they fought back well to dismiss their rampant opponents before lunch on day three.

But the damage was already done.

Australia's 98 all out was made to look even more abysmal as England kicked on past 500 to extend their lead to 415. Jonathan Trott was left stranded on 168 as Peter Siddle finished with a deserved six-wicket haul on his home ground.

I imagine a small part of Trott will have been happy with his red-inker as his Test average remains above 60. It's an even more remarkable feat when you consider he averages more than 100 against Australia!

That left the Aussies with two full sessions and two further days to negotiate. Not even the inclement Melbourne climate could help them though as blue sky surrounded them from the start of play until the finish.

Destructive

Openers Shane Watson and Phil Hughes showed some early intent as they counter-attacked against the new ball, however a suicidal run out signalled the inevitable.

Watson led his partner down the river without a paddle and Trott and Matt Prior combined as destructively as they had out in the middle to claim the breakthrough.

That was to prove an almighty setback for the Aussies as Ricky Ponting strode out to another mixed reception on what could well be his last Test innings at this famous Melbourne venue.

The one thing you can't deny about Ponting is his battling qualities, however you can't save a match on that alone - you have to have the technique and ability to back it up. He made the scratchiest 20 you will see before Tim Bresnan snuck one through his defences to send him packing.

Ponting took an absolute age to leave the field and it was hard not to feel sorry for him. Those are words I never thought I'd write!

Watson had already departed at this point, again to Bresnan, and the Yorkshireman continued his destructive spell with the prized scalp of Mike Hussey.

Game over.

The roar in amongst the Barmy Army was as big as it's been since I've been out here. That was the moment when it finally sunk in that we are not losing this series.

Graeme Swann and James Anderson threatened to finish the Test two days early with the wickets of Michael Clarke and Steve Smith respectively, however the champagne is still on ice.

It remains to be seen whether Ryan Harris will come out and bat after he sustained a stress fracture earlier in the day, nevertheless, I'm expecting a celebratory lunchtime ale tomorrow.

For more updates from the Ashes series, follow Joe on Twitter @DrabsDownUnder.

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