England took charge of the second Ashes Test on day two at Lords courtesy of an inspired Graeme Swann whose impressive figures of 5-44 helped the hosts clean out Australia for a miserly 128.
With the match finely poised ahead of the morning session, England initially struggled to enhance their first innings total as Tim Bresnan and Jimmy Anderson lost their wickets in quick succession to Ryan Harris, who also bagged a five wicket haul for 72 runs.
But a superb last wicket stand of 48 between Stuart Broad and Swann pushed England onto a healthier score of 361 before they were finally bowled out by James Pattinson who belatedly claimed his first scalp of the England innings.
Australia came out to the crease optimistic of a strong riposte however no one inside Lords anticipated what was about to ensue as the tourists turned in one of the most dismal batting performances ever seen in an Ashes Test.
Things began well enough for the Aussies and in particular Shane Watson who looked a real threat having raced to 30 in effortless fashion, however the opener’s concentration eluded him immediately before lunch as he was trapped lbw by Bresnan.
Resuming on 42/1, the afternoon session was to spark the start of a complete meltdown for Australia who lost their remaining nine wickets for just 86 runs in 41 overs.
Swann is roundly regarded as one of the best off-spinners in world cricket and he hit top form after taking the wicket of Chris Rogers for 15.
The 34-year-old tore through the Aussie middle order as Khawaja (14), Smith (7) and Haddin (2) all fell victim to the Nottinghamshire man who also removed Harris at the end of the innings for 10.
With Bresnan and Broad also wading in to take the important wickets of Hughes and Clarke, Australia were left dumfounded by a combination of England’s attack and also their own incompetence with the bat.
Fortunately for Australia, England appeared to catch the bug upon their return to the middle and lost three wickets cheaply for 31 runs before stumps.
It means that England go into day three 261 runs ahead and their focus will be to establish a lead of 400 plus to give themselves a maximum of two days to wrap up the Test with the ball.
Only a severe change in the weather will save the contest for Australia who need to find their form soon if they are to make a real fight of the series.