England’s Ashes hopes are in a sorry mess after another dismal batting collapse on day three of the second Test against Australia in Adelaide.
Responding to their hosts’ 473-9 declared, England fell from 150-2 to 236 all out as a dispiriting tour slumped further.
Joe Root and Dawid Malan batted throughout the first session but Root’s dismissal, caught at slip off Cameron Green for 62, sparked the loss of four wickets for 19 runs in 36 balls.
Malan was also caught at slip for 80 before Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler followed for five and nought respectively in a familiar procession.
Ben Stokes hung around for 98 balls for 34 runs and Chris Woakes made a spritely 24, the only hint of resistance as Mitchell Starc took 4-37 and Nathan Lyon 3-58.
Australia, 1-0 up in the series after the first Test, could have enforced the follow-on in the final session but instead opted to bat again.
David Warner was run out for 13 as the hosts reached 45-1, already leading by 282 and in complete control of the Test.
Reaction to day three in Adelaide
England staring down the barrel
The only instance of a team coming from 2-0 down to win the Ashes was Australia in 1936-37. England look likely to be facing the same challenge after another miserable day.
They collapsed in the first innings of the first Test on a lively, green pitch but on this occasion did so in perfect batting conditions – the skies blue and surface docile.
Root and Malan, who also shared a stand of 162 in Brisbane, added 123 without fuss in the first session, scoring more comfortably than the Australians in the previous days, making what followed inexcusable.
First the impressive all-rounder Green brought the run-scoring to a halt before he dismissed Root for the second consecutive innings, the England captain poking at a ball he could have left.
An England middle-order sapped of confidence tamely and steadily slipped to their demise with the final eight wickets falling for 86 runs.
England’s total was almost exactly half of Australia’s – a further suggestion of the gulf between the sides in a series in which English hope has evaporated after only seven days.
Australia could have asked England to face another 70 minutes in perfect, floodlit bowling conditions but, with more than two days remaining, instead opted to pile on more pain with the bat before attempting to bowl the tourists out for a second time.
Yet another collapse
England fans have become used to batting subsidence in recent years – Root’s side have been bowled out for 112 and 81 in India, 122 against New Zealand and 120 against India at home in 2021 alone.
Given the conditions and the fact Australia are without Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, this was up there with the worst.
Root fell in the second of six maidens after lunch and, as the tension grew, Malan followed soon after when he tried to cut Starc but flashed an edge to Steve Smith at slip.
Pope was once again tormented by spin, as he was in India last winter. He looked erratic in his 19 balls and had to overturn a catch at short leg off Lyon on review two balls before he succumbed to the same duo when rushing down the pitch.
Buttler’s bleak Test – he dropped two catches on day one – continued as he wafted a drive with minimal foot movement to Starc and edged to slip for a 15-ball duck.
Stokes at least showed some fight and summoned memories of his Headingley heroics when he started swinging with the tail. In the end he played onto his stumps trying to smash Green through the off side.
Green and Starc stand tall
Australia had actually been below their best in the first session, run-scoring opportunities provided more regularly than they had been in the previous Test.
With Cummins and Hazlewood absent, it was the 22-year-old Green who turned the momentum, bowling with pace and notable bounce from his towering 6ft 5in frame.
He was supported by Lyon, who was helped by a change of ends and a hint of turn which will become more relevant when England bat again.
With the door now ajar, the previously wayward Starc, the senior seamer alongside Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson, found his range to continue his impressive record with the pink ball. The final wicket of Stuart Broad, caught slashing to cover, is his 50th wicket in nine day-night Tests.
Australia’s catching was again a class above England’s, Smith’s sharp grab to see off Malan the highlight. Starc did put down Ollie Robinson at gully, Australia’s first drop of the series, but given Robinson still made a duck it was inconsequential.
The only Australian blemish was a mix-up with between Marcus Harris and Warner which left the latter stranded late on.
Australia will hope Harris – whose series scores to date read three, nine not out and three – can find form on day four against a demoralised England attack.
‘The most disappointing day for the series’ – reaction
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “That is the most disappointing day of the series, by a comfortable margin. To collapse as they did, after the way the first session went, made the next two so disappointing.”
England batter Dawid Malan: “If we knew why the collapses happened, we would stop them. Hopefully we can put in some performances as a team.”
Australia spinner Nathan Lyon to ABC: “It was an outstanding day. England played me pretty well in the first session, but we went back to basics.
“We were leaking both ends, but as soon as we controlled one end, you create opportunities.”
Australia bowler Mitchell Starc: “We didn’t bowl how we wanted to in that first session, let it slip on the scoreboard and searched for wickets. The way we came out in that second session, Nath [Lyon] and I took it on ourselves a bit being the two experienced ones in the attack.”