Just two days into the fourth Test of the Ashes series and already England have a firm grip on the Urn.
After an abysmal first innings in which only 60 runs were scored and extras outscored every batsmen for the first time in Ashes history, Australia needed a near miracle to recover and have a chance of winning the Test.
Unfortunately for them they don’t seem to have managed it. Following on from an overnight score of 274-4, England continued to push the Australian attack for some time before lunch, but the loss of Joe Root early on for an excellent 130 meant Mitchell Starc could plough through England’s lower order finishing with 6-111.
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Only Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad put up any strong resistance as England declared on 391-9 giving themselves time for a brief stint of bowling before lunch.
The second Australian innings looked as though everything England had worked so hard for could be slipping away. Two dropped catches from Alastair Cook and Ian Bell in the slips as well as an excellent catch off a no-ball from Root meant the openers had had more than their fair slice of luck.
It seemed until an inspired spell just before tea from Cumbrian Ben Stokes, that Chris Rogers and David Warner had dug in and could be set to go big.
However, he got the ball hooping around in Jimmy Anderson-esque style, and removed Rogers (52) and Warner (64), before Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh fell cheaply too. Michael Clarke then missed the opportunity he needed to score big by nicking the ball to Bell off the bowling of Wood.
A solitary decent innings from Adam Voges, under the pressure of being dropped too, means the innings retained some respectability, but Peter Nevill and Mitchell Johnson also fell for low scores and at the close Australia were 241-7. This means that England need just three wickets to win the Urn back with Australia trailing by 90.
Where has it all gone wrong?
It’s easy to forget that just five months ago Australia won the world cup and looked like a side that was near unbeatable.
However, in this series many of the players who were pivotal in the success earlier in the year have simply not fired. Mitchell Starc has not been as accurate or moved the ball anywhere near as well as back home, the only exception being England’s first innings in this Test match.
Clarke has failed to score any serious runs, as has Steve Smith (aside from an outstanding game at Lord's, with 215 and 66) who seemed incapable of getting out just a short while ago. This decline in performances has led effectively to Australia losing the Ashes.
The baggy green's tail need to score a huge amount of runs if they’re to avoid an innings defeat, which would truly embarrass the Aussies.
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