Brisbane: Australia's newspapers gloated on Saturday that it's payback time in the Ashes after their team's bowlers humbled England's batsmen at the Gabba.
Recalled pacer Mitchell Johnson returned to his brutal best as Australia blew away England for just 136 to turn the first Ashes Test on its head and hold an overall lead of 224 runs with 10 wickets intact after Friday's second day.
Australia, trying to avoid losing four Ashes series in a row for the first time in 123 years, are in a commanding position to remain unbeaten at the Gabba for 25 years. "It's payback time at the Gabba this weekend," News Limited's Robert Craddock trumpeted.
"A Test victory should await rampaging Australia .... the next few days are a rare and precious chance for Australia to set themselves up for the summer by trying to break England's four-man attack in the field, getting a previously ropey top order into form and keeping England's key batting weapons pondering where their next run is coming from."
The Daily Telegraph's Malcolm Conn likened Johnson's bowling performance to the raw aggression of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in the 1970s. "Fast bowling is in Australia's DNA. It has a loud and proud heritage which was enhanced at the Gabba as terrified England batsmen were humiliated," Conn said.
"It was a bone-rattling, helmet crashing display from Johnson and on Friday's performance it is remarkable to think that Johnson was not considered among the best five fast bowlers in the country when he was ignored for the last Ashes tour."
The Australian said Michael Clarke's team swung "a remarkable heist" in stealing the lead and the front-running in the first Ashes Test and now appear set to get a break in the series. "Mitchell Johnson was magnificent. A man of many guises -- and one who is remembered more for his bad days than his 209 Test wickets -- there have already been two Johnsons on display at the Gabba," the newspaper's Peter Lalor said.
"On day one he swung hard, straight and confidently with the bat and on day two he bowled as many had forgotten he could, shaking England's top order so hard its batsmen fell like ripe fruit from a tree." Fairfax Media's Greg Baum said the Ashes series had been re-set. "In a blink of the eye on Friday, England lost 6-9 and all the sangfroid and moral supremacy that has characterised its recent Ashes ascendancy," he wrote.
Fairfax cricket columnist Malcolm Knox said of Johnson: "His first over contained the six fastest balls of the match to that point; none went within a bull's roar of taking a wicket.
"But once he found his range, there was not a person in Brisbane, not even Kevin Pietersen or (former Australia Test batsman) Dean Jones, who would have wanted to be anywhere near the batting crease."