Embarrassing England slump as Australia take charge at Headingley
Joe Root’s side will not be able to reclaim the Ashes if they lose.
England were swept aside for a calamitous 67 all out on day two of the third Ashes Test at Headingley, a sorry performance that goes a long way to ensuring the urn will remain in Australia.
Arriving on Friday morning buoyant after Jofra Archer’s six for 45 toppled the tourists for 179, Joe Root’s side were collectively inept in reply, collapsing in a heap inside 28 overs.
Should Australia now convert their 112-run lead into victory and a 2-0 advantage in the series, England would be unable to reclaim the Ashes.
Just one batsman made double figures, with Joe Denly’s error-strewn 12 hardly a matter of celebration, and their final tally equals their third lowest Ashes total on home turf and their worst in the series since 1948.
It is also their third score under 100 in 2019, a trend that is rapidly becoming a fatal flaw.
The tourists bowled wonderfully well, particularly Josh Hazlewood with five for 30, but the resistance was unforgivably limp.
The all-too-familiar collapse began with Jason Roy’s latest failure at the top of the order, briefly hinting at an alternative version of events with two clean boundaries before chasing Hazlewood with a drive that flew straight to David Warner at first slip. He had just nine to his name, his exact average in six disappointing innings at opener.
The next blow was even more grievous, Root handing Warner a second take tumbling sharply to his left after Hazlewood tempted the error with a fine delivery. Having made the first golden duck of his career at Lord’s last week this was now the first time he had banked successive noughts.
Denly successfully overturned an lbw shout without scoring – the first of seven awkward moments he experienced before getting off the mark with a cover driven four.
Australia were delayed but not deterred, Pat Cummins hitting Rory Burns’ forearm with a bouncer then cashing in as the opener took on the next one but gloved it behind.
Ben Stokes produced the worst shot yet, following a boundary through point by chasing a wide from James Pattinson. Down on one knee he stretched to make contact but picked out Warner yet again.
This has been a pathetic effort ... No hiding behind any excuses ... simply not good enough ... #Ashes— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) August 23, 2019
Somehow Denly was still there but he was being routinely beaten on the outside edge, almost chopped on twice and survived another lbw shout. His tortured stay eventually came to an end as a flourishing drive wobbled gently to the wicketkeeper.
Jonny Bairstow then lingered for 15 uncomfortable deliveries before becoming Hazlewood’s third victim and Warner’s fourth, edging off the back foot and brilliantly caught.
Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes were the not out batsman as England limped to 54 for six at lunch but the break in play did nothing but suspend the chaos.
Woakes lasted precisely one delivery of the afternoon’s play, brushing a short one from Cummins to the wicketkeeper to remove any hope of a seventh-wicket rearguard.
Buttler was close behind, pressing firmly at Hazlewood but picking out Usman Khawaja, perfectly stationed at short cover, where he scooped a smart low catch.
Archer’s arrival was warmly greeted by the crowd and a flourish for four through midwicket proved further cause for celebration. That was as good as it got, though, with the tailender ducking under a Cummins bouncer but leaving his bat exposed to run the ball through to Paine.
It was Hazlewood who deservedly applied the finishing touch, bowling Jack Leach round his legs for his five-for.