Cook goes first ball

England captain Alastair Cook was bowled for a golden duck as his team's mission improbable to keep the Ashes alive got off to a horror start at the WACA.

Cook had been powerless to stop Shane Watson and George Bailey piling on England's agony with some brutal hitting as Australia raced to 369 for six declared on the fourth morning of this third Test.

Then, he suffered the ignominy of falling to the first ball of England's attempted rearguard - in notional pursuit of a world-record 504 to win - when Ryan Harris produced a near unplayable first delivery, which beat Cook on the defence and clipped the off bail.

The tourists' hopes of a fourth successive Ashes series victory, from 2-0 down, already appeared long spent - but they at least reached lunch without further mishap on 24 for one.

It remains nonetheless a very long shot, on a pitch crazy-paved by wide cracks after being baked by 100 degree heat for three days, that they might stay in even with an outside chance of retaining the urn by eking out their remaining nine wickets for five more sessions.

Watson (103) had free rein to attack, and took rich advantage with a 106-ball century containing 11 fours and five sixes.

He was merciless against Graeme Swann, signalling Australia's intent by hitting the off-spinner for two fours and a six from the last three balls of the first over on the fourth morning.

Swann's final over, before being diplomatically replaced by Joe Root, was then smashed for 22 by Watson - an initial four followed by three sixes into the Prindiville Stand.

Steve Smith's wicket, caught in the leg-side deep off Ben Stokes, hinted at a modicum of respite.

But Watson, who had dominated the fourth-wicket stand of 78 in 16 overs and was on just 29 at start of play, was in the mood for more mayhem.

A direct hit by Root from mid off would have run him out for 51, and in the 90s Tim Bresnan clung on to a catch at long off only for the momentum of the ball to carry him over the rope.

Watson therefore completed his fourth Test hundred, and Australia's seventh to England's none in this series, taking just 28 balls over his second 50.

But a double-play from Bresnan's first delivery with the second new ball brought a bizarre end to Watson's fun.

Ian Bell dropped a miscued skier in the off side only for the ball to drop within Bresnan's reach in his follow-through, from where he threw down the stumps with Watson still mid-pitch.

There was still time for more haplessness in the field from England, and Bailey to club James Anderson for a world record-equalling 28 in an over, before Michael Clarke ordered the declaration. :: Stuart Broad will be able to bat if necessary in England's second innings, after scans on his sore right foot revealed no break.

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