THE Ashes are on the brink of going as all those hopes and dreams were crushed by another pathetic batting performance.
It was a glorious day in Leeds, the sun was shining and the air balmy, and yet England somehow contrived to be routed for just 67 all out.
Finding words sufficiently damning is difficult. England produced a truly mindless effort, devoid of skill, patience, application and the basic ability to remain at the wicket for more than a few minutes.
The grim stats tell us England’s first innings in the Third Test lasted just 27.5 overs, it was their lowest Ashes total since 1948 and the top score was 12.
Jason Roy, Joe Denly, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler were among those who perished to abysmal shot selection and execution. But really the whole lot of them should be rounded up and forced to watch a ten-hour video of Geoff Boycott or Chris Tavare or Mike Atherton blocking.
Don’t these blokes see how Steve Smith goes about his work? He leaves balls and he defends. HE TRIES TO STAY IN. What a revolutionary idea from the most prolific Test batsman in the world.
Marnus Labuschagne is the same. Since coming in for Smith at Lord’s, his scores have been 59, 74 and 53 not out based on prudence and smart game management.
By the close of day two, Australia were 171-6 and had advanced their lead to 283 with three days remaining.
England produced a truly mindless effort, devoid of skill, patience, application and the basic ability to remain at the wicket for more than a few minutes[/caption]
The grim stats tell us England’s first innings in the Third Test lasted just 27.5 overs[/caption]
England had their lowest Ashes total since 1948 and the top score was 12[/caption]
Sure, the pitch offered assistance, the red balls (remember, England chose to play with last year’s batch) swung around and several batsmen appeared stuck in one-day mode.
But there can be no mitigation for such an abject capitulation.
When Jofra Archer hobbled off dragging his left leg during the final session, the ultimate horror scenario looked possible. Thankfully, the diagnosis was cramp and he returned to the field 20 minutes later.
Archer had earlier endeared himself to spectators still further by grabbing a giant inflatable water melon from a steward and flicking it back into the crowd when it was about to be confiscated.
With Australia holding the Ashes after their 4-0 triumph in 2017-18, England needed to win this series to recapture the little urn.
But the Aussies, already 1-0 up following their win at Edgbaston, are 95 per cent to win here and go dormy two. So cricket’s most famous trophy is destined to stay in Australian hands, although it actually remains encased in perspex at the Lord’s museum.
Bowling maestro Jofra Archer was dealt with getting rid of an inflatable watermelon[/caption]
Archer hobbled off dragging his left leg during the final session[/caption]
After the optimism generated by Archer’s six-wicket haul on Thursday, this was a massive pricking of England’s water melon.
Everything should have been in England’s favour here. They won the toss on Thursday and forced Australia to bat in damp, cloudy conditions with Smith missing because of concussion.
And yesterday England batted under blue skies. But they had no answer to the relentless pace, accuracy and movement of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson.
England have been bowled out for fewer than 100 four times in the past 18 months – by New Zealand, Barbados, Ireland and now Australia.
They change their batting order almost every match and there are serious doubts whether Roy, Denly, Buttler and maybe even Bairstow deserve their places as batsmen. Captain Root has been dismissed by two of the last three balls he has faced and looks tired and dispirited.
Root also dropped a dolly, juggling catch at slip to reprieve Labuschagne. It was the error of a distracted man.
Roy was soon caught at first slip as he edged an attempted drive against Hazlewood. He made just nine but ended up joint-second top scorer.
Root edged his second ball and Rory Burns, who attracts plenty of short stuff, gloved an attempted pull to the wicketkeeper.
England had no answer to the relentless pace, accuracy and movement of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson[/caption]
Captain Root has been dismissed by two of the last three balls he has faced and looks tired and dispirited[/caption]
Stokes chased the widest of wide balls and somehow skewed a catch to slip.
Denly reached double figures – an exclusive club in this innings – but it was a heck of a struggle and he perished aiming an extravagant and unnecessary drive at Pattinson.
Bairstow’s edge gave David Warner his fourth catch and, to the first ball after lunch, Woakes was held down the legside.
From the opening ball of the second over following the interval, Buttler drove uppishly to short extra cover. Another soft dismissal.
Archer was caught behind when he left his bat pointing upwards, periscope-style, as he ducked a bouncer. Jack Leach was last out, bowled round his legs.
Building on a lead of 112, Australia lost Warner lbw to Stuart Broad’s second ball and Marcus Harris was bowled through the gate aiming a drive at Leach’s first ball, which turned sharply. Australia were 52-3 when Usman Khawaja swished at Woakes and was held at second slip.
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But Labuschagne frustrated England again and found allies in Travis Head and Matthew Wade as Australia’s lead crept northwards.
Stokes took two wickets during a monster spell after tea and Broad dismissed captain Tim Paine for a duck
But it will take a miracle for the Ashes can be reclaimed now.