Trott puts Ashes in England's clutches

The International Cricket Council may have gone easy on Ricky Ponting but Jonathan Trott certainly did not as Australia suffered again on a fractious day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The International Cricket Council may have gone easy on Ricky Ponting but Jonathan Trott certainly did not as Australia suffered again on a fractious day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

There is little doubt home captain Ponting might have been treated more harshly than by receiving a 40 per cent fine of his match fee for his unedifying remonstrations with umpire Aleem Dar.

But Trott, with 141 not out, saw to it that there was precious little consolation for Ponting, chiselling out his third Ashes hundred in just five Tests as Australia's already faint hopes of somehow regaining the urn faded further.

It was Trott, of course, who did so much to wrest the Ashes from Australia in England last year by making a second-innings century on debut as the hosts prevailed on an awkward Oval pitch.

Once the morning clouds dispersed for the second day running in Melbourne, batting here was a notably easier occupation than it was in London 16 months ago.

This time, Trott's biggest problem was a searing pain in his knee throughout the second half of his innings after he had inside-edged the ball on to an unprotected part of the joint.

He battled through to underpin England's lead of 346 in a total of 444-5 by stumps on day two of this Boxing Day Test.

Trott shared stands of 92 with Kevin Pietersen (51) and an unbroken 158 with Matt Prior (75no) after Peter Siddle (3-58) had briefly hinted at a home fightback by removing openers Alastair Cook (82) and Andrew Strauss (69) for only seven runs between them, in addition to their overnight partnership of 157.

For Ponting – powerless to stop his team folding for a hapless 98 all out on day one – these are testing times, in the extreme.

A 2-1 lead, and therefore Ashes retention, has appeared England's for the taking since teatime on the first day and after Trott set about significant consolidation in a typically earnest and determined 278-ball innings, Ponting's miserable experience was far from over.

He had a close-of-play appointment with match referee Ranjan Madugalle to explain why he had harangued both umpires over a review procedure which appeared to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Dar had correctly given Pietersen not out caught behind off Ryan Harris on 49.

At 36, Ponting is under intense pressure and his batting form has deserted him just when he has needed it most. Calls for his resignation or retirement will become deafening should he become only the second Australia captain to lose the Ashes three times.

Trott will take no pleasure in his part in Ponting's downfall, only in the runs he appears programmed to score. Asked about his record-breaking feats – in his 17th Test, the 29-year-old South Africa-born batsman has the best average, against both Australia and all opposition, of any England cricketer in history – he said: "I don't think it's anything about batting against Australia in particular.

"I've played five games against Mike Hussey, and he's also scored three hundreds ... you might also have to ask him why he likes batting against England."

Even so, there was no doubting the satisfaction after an innings which may just prove this winter's knockout blow.

"This is definitely an important Test match and one I'll savour," added Trott. "They're all pretty special. But Boxing Day, with the hype around it and the support from the English fans, it would definitely be right up there."

There was only one anxious moment in Trott's hundred, when only a desperate lunge for the line and a marginal third-umpire ruling stopped him losing out to a pinpoint throw from Ponting as he scampered for his 49th run. "I was flat on my stomach but I had a feeling I'd made it," he said.

As for that knee injury, which left him hobbling for most of the final session, Trott said: "It was one of the most painful things I've felt in my life. I asked for the runner to put the pads on and see how it went.

"I gave it 20 minutes to see if it stiffened up. It stiffened up a little bit ... that'll teach me for inside-edging it."

If that was a minor setback for Trott, this was another day when almost nothing went right for Australia.

Mitchell Johnson thought he had Prior caught behind for five, only for Dar to call back England's wicketkeeper-batsman as he passed him on his way off to the pavilion to check if the bowler had overstepped. The third umpire confirmed he had, and Prior survived in bizarre circumstances.

Siddle, who had joined Ponting in the harassment of Dar, issued three consecutive 'no comments' on that topic but said: "When luck's not on your side there's not much you can do about it."