England cannot make excuses for their troubling run of batting collapses at the Ashes and must find a way to put scores on the board, according to Dawid Malan.
The batting malfunctioned twice in the series opener in Brisbane and was on the blink again on day three in Adelaide, with a weakened Australia attack snapping up eight for 86 to assume complete control.
For the second game in a row Malan had shared a century stand with captain Joe Root to sow the seeds of a comeback, but nobody else had the requisite steel to back them up and the score tumbled from 150 for two to 236 all out.
Things might have got even worse had Australia’s stand-in captain Steve Smith enforced the follow-on under the lights, particularly given the travails of their top order, but he preferred to stretch the lead to 282 and will put some more hard yards into a weary bowling attack on day four.
Malan does not give himself a free pass despite scoring more runs and facing more balls than anyone in the away dressing room over the last three innings, insisting scores of 82 and 80 are not enough to get the job done.
“It’s very easy to keep saying ‘oh, we’re unlucky; we nicked a few; we played some bad shots; this and that’ but we actually need to find a way of putting some runs on the board as a collective,” he said.
“If we knew why the collapses happened, we would stop them, but hopefully we can put in some performances as a team.
“It’s been pretty frustrating. To to get ourselves back into a position where we could get within touching distance of them and then lose eight wickets is very disappointing.
“We can talk about the guys who failed but ultimately one of Rooty or myself should have gone on and got a big hundred and taken the pressure off those guys.
“We can talk about taking 20 wickets too but in Australia it’s big runs as well that win you Test matches. In the last Test, myself and Rooty were in a position to score big hundreds but we didn’t do it. And we were in the same position here. Both times we have been found short as a batting unit.”
Malan has just been elevated back to world number one among Twenty20 batters following Babar Azam’s string of low scores, but probably reflects on his 140 in Perth on the 2017-18 Ashes trip as a career highlight.
At 34, and four games into a comeback he never thought would happen following a three-year exile, he is hungry for another.
“Test hundreds aren’t easy to come by so to get to 80 two innings in a row and get out – and pretty softly this time – is frustrating,” he said.
“When someone gets in, whether you are in form, out of form, whatever, we need to go on and ensure we get a big one. Marnus Labuschagne did it for them this time and Travis Head did it last time. We haven’t done well enough with making it count.”
Seamer Mitchell Starc, who led the home attack in the absence of the injured Josh Hazlewood and isolating captain Pat Cummins, was phlegmatic about Smith’s decision not to unleash him again by sending England’s openers back in straight away.
“I’m not the captain, Smithy is pretty happy with the way he wanted to go so there wasn’t too much of a chat,” he said.
“He’s pretty set in his ways and knew which way he wanted to go. In terms of where it sits now we hold all the cards in terms of when we want to bowl and how big a lead we want to have. We have a lot of options on the table.”