Andrew Caddick found inspiration from the defeat in Melbourne to keep England on course for a famous victory over Australia in the final Test.

The Somerset fast bowler attracted his fair share of criticism as England slumped to an Ashes series defeat in record time.

But since returning from the back spasm which kept him out of the third Test defeat in Perth, Caddick has responded with improved performances in the one-day series and a thundering display to rattle Australia during their modest run chase in Melbourne.

The confidence gained in reducing them to 58 for three chasing 107 with Caddick claiming three for 51 on that final day has been taken into this final Test and his display yesterday pushed England into a commanding position.

Caddick's two early wickets reduced Australia to 25 for three inside six overs of their second innings, which they began a daunting 451 runs adrift after England declared on 452 for nine.

Although they recovered to reach 91 for three by the close of the fourth day after Andy Bichel bludgeoned an unbeaten 49 off 54 balls, the momentum is firmly with England and experienced campaigner Caddick.

''When you get a bit of a sniff that some players on their side are struggling a little bit then it gives you something to take into the next Test match,'' said Caddick.

''It's good that 2002 has gone and we've started 2003 on a good note and hopefully we can get a win under our belt and continue that through the one-day series and return with a bit of pride.''

Caddick was given more than a little help from umpire Russell Tiffin, who adjudged Justin Langer was lbw for the second time in the match to a delivery which pitched outside leg stump.

Matthew Hayden was dismissed in the next over when Matthew Hoggard won an appeal for leg before despite advancing down the pitch and pushing forward.

But there was nothing wrong with the dismissal of Ricky Ponting three overs later when he was rapped in front of his stumps by another Caddick delivery which displayed uneven bounce.

''I've probably only been bowling at about 75 per cent of what I should be on this tour and I don't know why that is, " said Caddick.

''Maybe it is the responsibility of leading the attack, who knows. But I haven't had a great series and I want to put that right in this Test and in the next six to 12 months.''

Opener Michael Vaughan had resumed on 113 with England 217 runs ahead on 281 for two and powered his way to a brilliant 183 before becoming another victim of Tiffin's inconsistency when he was given leg before to Bichel from a ball which appeared to be bouncing over the stumps.

Vaughan shared a 189-run partnership with captain Nasser Hussain, playing possibly his final Test innings in Australia.

But his hopes of saying farewell with a century were ended by the penultimate ball before lunch when he edged fast bowler Brett Lee behind to wicketkeeper Gilchrist for 72.

Lee also struck again shortly after the interval to begin a mini-collapse of three wickets in five overs, tempting Robert Key into an attempted pull which he top edged straight to Hayden at mid-wicket.

Once Vaughan fell the belief in England's lower order also appeared to fade and their next four wickets fell quickly until Alec Stewart and Steve Harmison forged a 43-run partnership which was only ended by the declaration.