No weak link in potent Australian attack

Paceman Josh Hazlewood says he has never bowled faster than during his game-changing burst that set up a quick kill for Australia on Wednesday.

There is no weak link in Steve Smith's attack. Spinner Nathan Lyon's purple patch is rivalling Mitchell Johnson's memorable 2013-14 Ashes series, Pat Cummins is landing the ball on a 20?? piece and Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc are claiming key wickets despite not hitting their peak. Starc cleaned up the tail with the new ball to finish with 5-88, his eighth five-wicket haul.

The quartet twisted the knife deeper into England's frail batting line-up in Adelaide, setting the scene for a potential handover of the urn in Perth.

While England captain Joe Root is drawing heart from his team's ability to compete for long periods, the reality is the Australian attack is all over England's batsmen.

The visitors have been dismissed for less than 300 in three of their four innings, with wickets falling in clusters each time. Here, they lost 6-57 to crash to another sizeable defeat.

The Australians know there is still considerable improvement to come from Hazlewood and Starc, who are on the comeback trail from injury.

Hazlewood rocked England early on day five, snaring two wickets with his first 11 balls, including the key wicket of Root, who was not allowed to settle due to the giant quick's immaculate line and length. Both Root and Chris Woakes nicked off to balls on the fourth stump line.

"You wait for these moments to occur in games to go out there and stamp your authority on the game and pick up those early two, especially Joe Root, set the scene for today," Hazlewood said.

The English believe he was the quickest of Australia's pacemen, which would surprise many given Cummins and Starc are both capable of breaking the 150 km/h mark.

The Bendemeer Bullet welcomed Jonny Bairstow with a 148.4 km/h thunderbolt that he rated as his quickest ever.

"I think so. Obviously adrenaline running through the body with a couple of wickets there as well. My rhythm was really good. So I'm pretty happy with that," Hazlewood said.

Hazlewood's start to the day was reminiscent of his effort on the third night in Brisbane when he swung the match in Australia's favour by striking twice with the new ball.

"Josh probably hasn't been bowling as well as I've seen him bowl, I think he knows that," Smith said.

"This morning, the lengths he bowled were exceptional. The wicket of Woakes and Root, those two lengths is Josh Hazlewood. He bowls that length day in, day out. He doesn't aim to swing it too much, he hits the seam and gets movement both ways."

Cummins and Lyon have been Smith's rocks with their ability to attack and defend depending on the situation.

Lyon's 38 wickets at 17.8 from his past five Tests is up there with Johnson's return from his epic Ashes of four years ago of 37 at 14.

The off-spinner is relishing bowling to England, who have four left-handers in their top seven. One of them, Moeen Ali, has become Lyon's bunny, dismissed four times this series by his opposing number.

It seems hard to comprehend Lyon was down on confidence and on the verge of being dumped 12 months ago.

"I think Nathan is bowling as well as I've seen him bowl," Smith said.

"He's been exceptional, he's hitting great lengths, he's very confident and he's bowling exceptionally well."

Cummins missed out on the spoils but was the most consistent of Australia's pace trio. His wicket of Dawid Malan late on the fourth night ended a dangerous partnership, while his runs down the order have proven invaluable.

"Even last night when things weren't going he was going at one an over," Smith said.

"He contributed with Shaun in the first innings to get us into the position where we can drive the game. He's a talented player and hopefully he can have these kind of games for us."

This story No weak link in potent Australian attack first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.