By George Marrable
- England collapse on the final day to be dismissed for just 233 all out
- Visitors make under 250 in both innings after middle and lower order struggled to make an impact
- Mitchell Starc’s game figures of 8-134 helped the hosts rip through England’s batting lineup.
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – Two more England batting collapses, coupled with excellent Australian bowling resulted in a crushing 120 runs victory for Australia in the second Ashes test.
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Australia finish the close match with ease
It took the hosts just under two hours to finish of the England second innings. It was Josh Hazelwood who put them firmly in the driving seat as he took two wickets in the first 16 balls of the day to get rid of Chris Woakes and talisman Joe Root.
But day five could have been so much different for England, as they closed day four on 176-4 after a brave fightback from the team. Australia had posted 442-8 declared in the first innings after a brilliant unbeaten 126* from middle-order batsman Shaun Marsh. But when England were bowled out for just 233 in their first innings, with no batsman making a score above 50, the game was looking ominous for the tourists.
England, however, had other ideas, and fought back bravely with the ball. Some brilliant bowling from James Anderson and Woakes saw them take nine wickets between them in the second innings. Whilst their excellent bowling was coupled with a poor batting showing from Australia, England were now firmly back in with a chance of a result.
That result seemed to get all the more likely as day 4 progressed, as Root showed his defiance, battling through to the close of play on 67*, with his side needing 178 runs to win with six wickets in hand on the final day.
As day five arrived, England were buoyed, until Hazelwood quashed any chances of a fightback with his early wickets. It was then up to Mitchell Starc to do the rest as he ripped through England’s lower order, taking five wickets in the innings and eight overall for the match.
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England collapses once again causing trouble
Root batted defiantly in the second innings to put England in contention of a likely win, but, once again, the lack of support for the captain heaped the pressure on his shoulders. England’s reliance on Root is clearly having a drastic impact on both his personal and the team’s performance, as he cannot find the support he craves. And, even in his innings of 67, the warning signs were there, surviving a number of close reviews for LBW which could very well have changed the game if they have gone against him.
The England captain’s second innings score was the highest of any England batsman in the test match as he was the only player to pass 50. Plenty of batsman are getting themselves in, setting themselves nicely, but failing to capitalise on their good start. Both Mark Stoneman and Alastair Cook made scores in the 30’s, as did Jonny Bairstow and Woakes, but there was no conversion. It meant England were losing wickets at regular intervals, without any two batsmen building a substantial partnership to pile the pressure onto Australia.
It is a problem England have been trying to solve for a few years now, and they still seem no closer to a solution. With a batting lineup that has Bairstow at No. 8, strength in depth would be assumed, but constant capitulation before that heaps the pressure on the wicket-keeper batsman.
England are now at a turning point in the series, with the third test in Perth being absolutely vital. Do they stick with their current order, or change it up? Should Woakes be batting at No. 6 with Bairstow at No. 8? Do they bring Ben Stokes back for the third test? In any case, another collapse could see them hand the urn over to Australia.
Bowlers reigned supreme under lights
Coming into the match in Adelaide, many knew there would be a result under lights – it was never going to end in a draw. Australia’s first innings aside, it was the bowlers who really dominated the game for both sides.
England’s bowlers struggled to find a way through in the Australia first innings, but found it all too easy in the second, ripping through the Australia batting lineup and dismissing them for just 138. Anderson took five wickets to claim his first 5-fer in Australia, and Woakes came away with 4-36 as they dragged England right back into the game.
But Australia’s bowlers had other ideas. Australia had already dismissed England for 227, sharing the wickets around between their four key bowlers; Starc, Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins. Lyon was once again impressive as he took a 4-fer in that first England innings.
And, as they so often do, Australia’s quartet ripped through England once again in their second innings, with Starc this time taking the plaudits, finishing with 5-88. Their attack seemingly balances and compliments each other; Starc can attack and bowl quickly, whist Hazelwood bowls good line and length to test the batsmen. Lyon then enters the fray, bowling tight and getting good turn on the ball, allowing for all three of the bowlers to bowl with more freedom and pace.
England, on the other hand, are still not quite sure. Whilst they dominated Australia’s second innings, questions still remain about their lineup aside from Broad and Anderson. With Woakes and Craig Overton more suited to English conditions, and Moeen Ali failing to compete with Lyon in the spin department, England have to work significantly harder for their wickets in Australia, and are more reliant on poor Australian batting.
England take on a Cricket Australia XI in a two day match on 9th December, before facing Australia in the third Ashes test in Perth on 14th December.
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