THIS will come as no surprise but it has to be reported that England’s batting collapsed once again in an Ashes match.
England are being hopeless right to the end.
England’s batting order collapsed yet again in the fifth and final Ashes TestCredit: AP
And Rory Burns was particularly woeful as he was run out too easilyCredit: AFP
Opener Rory Burns – recalled to the side because Haseeb Hameed was in such wretched form – was run out for a duck.
He barely made an effort to reach the safety of his crease, either.
That set the tone and, sure enough, the rest of England’s batters crumbled in a way that has become depressingly familiar in recent weeks.
Chris Woakes top-scored with 36 but even that was a frenetic, error-filled innings.
Joe Root made 34 and debutante wicketkeeper Sam Billings was next best with 29.
England staggered to 188 all out and by the close of day two of the Fifth Test – the second match in this series using a pink ball – Australia had reached 37-3 and an overall lead of 152 runs.
At one stage, England lost Dawid Malan, Root and Ben Stokes for seven runs in the space of 21 balls.
The usual questions about England’s inadequate techniques, lack of patience and nous and capacity for self-destruction were tumbling from the mouths of TV pundits, former players and pretty much anybody else who was watching.
From having Australia 12-3 in the early overs of the first day, the match has rapidly slipped away from England.
Australia extended their first innings total to 303 all out in the first session and England were soon in trouble.
Burns edged Mitchell Starc in the opening over but, for some reason, Australia did not appeal or review. Replays confirmed the nick – but it made little difference.
In the second over of England’s innings, Zak Crawley called Burns for a single.
Both batsmen hesitated for a moment and Burns was run out by Marnus Labuschagne’s direct hit from cover.
Initially, the players did not seem to think it was out but replays showed that Burns was a couple of inches short of the crease.
Ex-Aussie captain Ricky Ponting – one of the game’s sharpest judges – could not believe Burns’ half-hearted running.
‘HAS TO BE MORE DESPERATION’
Ponting said on Channel 7 TV in Australia: “There had to be more desperation from Rory Burns.
“He’s back in the side, fighting for his Test career, and he’s not willing to put in a big dive to try to save his wicket.
“I know it wasn’t his call but can you imagine Marnus Labuschagne in that same situation – he would have been diving from two or three yards out from the crease.”
Ponting is dead right, of course.
It was Burns’ eighth duck in his last 22 Test innings. By way of comparison, Sir Alastair Cook registered nine ducks in his entire career of 291 innings.
England’s average opening partnerships in this series are lower than Australia’s tenth-wicket stands.
Crawley popped a catch via bat and pad to short leg and then Malan was caught down the legside.
Root was lbw and Stokes’ backfoot force ended in a plunging catch for Nathan Lyon at backward point.
Billings looked busy and played a couple of scorching cover drives off Pat Cummins.
But Ollie Pope disappointed again.
Back in the team after being dropped for the previous two Tests, Pope nibbled unnecessarily at a wide-ish ball and was caught behind.
Woakes was dropped first ball – an easy chance to David Warner at first slip – and then Billings hooked Cameron Green straight to fine leg.
Woakes was caught down the legside, Stuart Broad dragged on and Mark Wood was last man out having a slog.
England took some quick wickets in Australia’s second innings but it only went to show the folly of their selection at the start of the series.
Broad dismissed Warner for the 14th time in Test cricket – the Aussie opener registered a pair – but never forget England chose not to pick Broad vs Warner for the First Test.
Labuschagne was another player caught behind down the legside and Usman Khawaja couldn’t get his bat out the way of a Wood thunderbolt.
But Australia are in control and it will be a major surprise if they don’t extend their lead to 4-0 in the next day or two.