England crumble as Australia turn the screw

Dobell: England Ashes hopes are slipping away (0:54)

ESPNcricinfo’s George Dobell believes England are losing their grip on the Ashes as they go five down at tea on day three of the second Test (0:54)

Dinner England 8 for 219 (Overton 36*, Broad 0*, Starc 3-49) trail Australia 8 for 442 dec by 223 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Whatever the final prognosis, the health of England’s Ashes campaign took a major blow on day three as they collapsed to 8 for 219 at the dinner break in reply to Australia’s 8 for 442 declared. Never one to mince his words, former England captain Michael Vaughan had said before play that his country needed to win every session today or the Ashes were lost. Within two hours, the word “whitewash” was beginning to cross his mind.

Four wickets in the opening session were followed by three in the second and despite some lower-order fight from Chris Woakes and debutant Craig Overton, there was no question that both sessions had been won by Australia. The best that could be said for England was that they had worked themselves to a point where Australia might not have the option of the follow-on. At the long break, Overton was on 36 and Stuart Broad yet to score, with the deficit sitting at 223.

Remarkably, all three wickets that came between tea and dinner were caught and bowled, and two of them among the most spectacular examples of the dismissal. Moeen Ali, who had fought for 25 off 57 balls, began the trend when he was done by Nathan Lyon’s dip, driving uppishly away from the bowler, who dived full-length and plucked the chance in his left hand to leave England at 6 for 132.

Not to be outdone, Mitchell Starc threw his right hand out to intercept a well-struck Jonny Bairstow drive, and the ball lobbed up behind Starc, allowing him to complete the catch on the second grab. Near the end of the session, Starc completed the easiest of the trio of return catches when Woakes top-edged an attempted pull and the bowler barely needed to move to collect the skied opportunity.

Woakes and Overton had put together a 66-run eighth-wicket stand as England rebuilt somewhat from 7 for 142, but the damage had really been done in the opening session. England had started the day at 1 for 29, knowing that a solid day of batting might have dragged them back into the contest. Instead, they lost James Vince from the ninth ball of the day when he tried to force Josh Hazlewood off the back foot and edged behind.

It left England at 2 for 31, but it also brought together their two best batsmen as captain Joe Root joined his predecessor Alastair Cook at the crease. But in trying to play positively, Root fell for 9 when he drove at a fullish delivery from Pat Cummins and edged to third slip, where Cameron Bancroft snapped up the opportunity. Cook too succumbed to a needless stroke when he pushed at an offbreak from Lyon and edged to Steven Smith at slip on 37.

Dawid Malan, who survived on review early in his innings when Aleem Dar’s lbw decision was overturned due to the bounce extracted by Starc, was later done in by that same bounce and carry provided by this Adelaide surface. On 19, Malan failed to negotiate a sharp delivery from Cummins that nipped back in and bounced, taking his inside edge on the way through to the wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

That England might yet get inside the follow-on zone is an achievement in itself, given their earlier wobbles. But that alone tells of how poorly this day has gone for them. Talk of a whitewash is premature, but with each session this match spirals further out of control for England.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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