Ashes: Australia in total control after another England’s latest collapse


ustralia’s dominance of the final Test of the Ashes continued on the second day when England produced another stuttering batting performance including a dreadful middle order collapse.

The only positive for England at the second break on day two was that they had avoided the follow on, although they only needed 104 to get there.

After being bowled out for 303 in the opening session, adding 62 runs for the last four wickets, Australia knocked over England’s openers promptly, then got stuck into the middle order after the dinner break.

It had been a hair-brained start from England before the break, and they already had their backs to the wall after Rory Burns was run out for a duck and Zak Crawley caught at short-leg off Pat Cummins.

Opening for the first time together, Crawley and the recalled Burns made a horrible start. This was one of those rare run outs where both batters were at fault. There might have been a single there but Crawley set off, then hesitated, then set off again. Burns was flat-footed and never terribly interested in the run; there was no dive. That left him an inch short when Marnus Labuschagne’s throw from close range on the offside smashed into the stumps.

Burns was gone for a duck, his seventh in 12 months and eighth in 22 innings. By then, he could already have been given out. With the final ball of Mitchell Starc’s first over, Burns appeared to play and miss out side off-stump. There was half an appeal from Australia, but  no response from the umpire. For Australia, there was no cost. A six-ball duck remained a six ball duck.

Crawley played some attractive strokes, but was soon well caught by Travis Head at short leg off Pat Cummins.

Things got even worse after the break. Dawid Malan and Joe Root shared a calming partnership of 49, but a stunning burst from Cummins saw both dismissed. Malan fell softly down the legside, while Root was pinned lbw by one that jagged back sharply.

Ben Stokes soon followed, caught listlessly at point off Mitchell Starc. That made the collapse three for seven off 21 balls and brought Ollie Pope, recalled but scoreless, and Sam Billings, on debut together.

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