Brisbane, November 25:

Australia were digging a massive hole for beleaguered England to escape from, as the tourists faced a demoralising defeat in the first Ashes cricket Test here today.

Skipper Ricky Ponting refused to enforce the follow-on after Australia dismissed the Ashes holders for just 157 to seize a 445-run lead.

The hosts swelled their advantage to 626 runs cruising to 181/1 by stumps on the third day with Justin Langer unbeaten on 88 and Ponting not out 51. Australia lost the wicket of Matthew Hayden, who perished on 37 going for a risky second single.

Ponting became the third Australian to pass 9,000 Test runs when he reached 12 during his second innings. The day’s star was Glenn McGrath, who captured his 29th five-wicket haul in Tests and 10th against England to finish with 6-50 as England folded in their first innings.