Jonathan Trott’s unbeaten 141 took England to a position of enormous strength at the end of a controversial second day in the fourth Ashes Test at Melbourne.
Trott, alongside Matt Prior (75*) gave England an imposing 346 run lead while Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting will make the headlines for his disgruntled reaction to a failed decision review.
Ponting remonstrated angrily with both officials when Australia failed to have a not out decision reversed against Kevin Pietersen - despite the umpires having seemingly made the right call.
Pietersen appeared to play and miss at a ball from Ryan Harris but Australia took the decision to the third umpire Marais Erasmus who in turn agreed with on field official Aleem Dar.
A small mark was visable on the toe of Pietersen’s bat which excited the Aussie fielders watching on the big screen but the ball passed the bat of England’s number four further up the blade.
A clearly angry Ponting engaged in lengthy discussions with both umpires - as well as Petersen - and is likely to face disciplinary action from ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle.
Siddle shows some fight
Australia started the second day desperate for quick wickets and fired-up seamer Peter Siddle duly obliged - removing both England openers early on.
Alastair Cook (82) was coerced into edging to first slip and Andrew Strauss (69) top edged into the gully after failing to handle a vicious lifting delivery which caught the shoulder of his blade.
Conditions were tricky for batting under grey, overcast skies but Trott and Pietersen batted sensibly in guiding England to lunch on 226/2.
Pietersen briefly threatened to dominate proceedings but shortly after the incident with Ponting, he became Siddle’s third victim and departed LBW.
Under fire Paul Collingwood departed for just eight, caught by Siddle off Mitchell Johnson to keep up the pressure mounting on his place in the England side.
When Ian Bell fell to the same combination for just a single run not long before tea England were facing the prospect of a less dominant lead than they had initially hoped to build.
Prior rides his luck
There was another flashpoint in a terse afternoon session when Matt Prior clearly edged Johnson through to ‘keeper Brad Haddin on just five.
However, Umpire Dar told Prior to stand his ground while he checked Johnson’s delivery stride and when the replays were consulted it proved the bowler had narrowly overstepped the popping crease - a no ball.
Prior rode his luck but batted with typical aggression after tea as he and Trott set about making Australia suffer with an unbroken stand of 158.
Trott was in typically unflappable form throughout the day and batted seemingly oblivious to the controversy around him to compile a third Ashes century and fifth an all Tests.
He scored the vast majority of his runs through the leg side as the hosts frequently strayed into his pads.
England closing in
Ponting’s petulant reaction to the supposed Pietersen dismissal was the low point of another disappointing day for the hosts, who needed a fightback of monumental proportions to shift the momentum after day one.
Siddle, on his home ground, bowled with heart and aggression but there was a worrying lack of options for Ponting to call on despite his six man attack.
England meanwhile will be eyeing another innings victory to match theirs in the second Test in Adelaide and ensure they retain the Urn.