A run-heavy bowling performance in the third Test saw Australia seize control of the match on day five. The Aussies then sealed victory by running out England for just 57 runs at stumps, to take a 2-0 series lead ahead of next week’s fourth Test at Durham.
|Melbourne hosts the third Ashes Test (day two of five)|
|England 185 Root 50; Cummins 3-36, Lyon 3-36 & 31-4; England 185 Root 50; England 185 Root 50; England 185 Root 50; England 185 Root 50; England Boland has a 2-1 lead against Starc, who has a 2-11 lead.|
|267 Australia Anderson 4-33, Harris 76, Warner 38.|
|With six wickets left, England is behind by 51 runs.|
On a tense second day of the third Test in Melbourne, Australia edged closer to winning the Ashes as another batting collapse undid their bowlers’ fine work.
England battled back magnificently in the first two hours of the day, knocking Australia for 267 to reduce the deficit to 82 runs after the first innings.
However, England were reduced to 31-4 at stumps as a tense final hour on a tricky wicket saw Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Scott Boland execute a devastating run of fast bowling.
In successive balls, Starc had Zak Crawley caught behind and Dawid Malan lbw, leaving England reeling at 7-2.
Haseeb Hameed edged out rookie Boland after overcoming the early burst from Starc and Cummins.
As nightwatchman, Jack Leach was brought in but was bowled by Boland without delivering a stroke two balls later.
Joe Root, England’s captain, played and missed, with a few of edges falling short of the slips, but he made it to the close on 12 not out, and his fifth-wicket stand with Ben Stokes on day three will be key.
While another top-order collapse will dominate the discussion, this was more of a reflection of terrific, at times unplayable, Australian bowling.
The day had begun in nearly as dramatic a manner as it had finished. Due to positive Covid-19 tests among their traveling party, England players were forced to delay their arrival at the stadium.
Before the start of the third day of play on Monday, both teams will undergo PCR testing.
Australia will retain the Ashes with a win or a draw, since they lead the best-of-five series 2-0.
Australia, the unstoppable force, has gone berserk.
In every innings of the series thus far, England’s batting has been questioned.
However, although their first-innings total of 185 all out was appalling, with numerous batsmen giving away their wickets, Monday’s late collapse was a very different story.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground was their coliseum, and Starc and Cummins were a gladiatorial presence.
They had the ball swinging, bouncing, and seaming, and Hameed and Crawley, who had just been recalled, had no chance.
It was brutal, nasty, and often unsettling. In front of a loud Melbourne crowd, it was also intriguing watching.
Cummins was unfortunate not to get a wicket, but he and Starc put on enough pressure for Starc to have Crawley caught behind before pinning Malan lbw with the tiniest of judgments – the ball brushing the bail on top of his leg stump on review after he was given out.
Hameed made it out alive. He ducked and dodged and managed to stay alive.
The arrival of Boland, though, raised expectations even higher in the grandstand, and the Victorian, who was playing on his home turf, rewarded the supporters with his only over.
Inspired by Starc and Cummins, the 32-year-old used the same nagging line and seam movement to get Hameed to edge behind, before Leach looked perplexed as he lost his off stump attempting to keep the ball on length.
When play begins at 23:30 GMT on Monday, Root and Stokes will have the onerous job of preserving the Test, series, and urn.
Anderson spearheads England’s comeback.
What would England be like if James Anderson didn’t exist?
He’s been their rescue on several occasions, and at the MCG, he delivered another masterpiece of swing and seam to give England a fighting chance.
Anderson’s brilliance can be seen in the fact that he was able to extract swing and seam movement from a ball that was over 70 overs old.
Anderson’s wickets of David Warner and Steve Smith are usually the most important in his score, but this time it was under-pressure opener Marcus Harris who gave England a tough fight.
Anderson had a fantastic pre-lunch performance of six overs, five maidens, and one wicket for one run.
After the lunch break, Root kept his star player back, and it proved to be a masterstroke as Anderson pounded away at Harris’ off stump, finally tempting a loose drive that the skipper happily collected at slip.
Root said after the Adelaide Test that he wants his bowlers to be more daring with their lengths. Anderson accomplished just that, throwing the ball substantially wider and consistently encouraging incorrect shots.
It’s astonishing that he didn’t take another five-wicket haul.
In this match, Anderson has bowled a substantially longer length.
In the midst of the pandemonium, bowlers shine.
It’s easy to forget that England’s bowlers put in an outstanding performance for the most of the day to put England in a very comfortable position at the conclusion of Australia’s innings.
It took three Tests, but England seems to have finally found the correct bowling assault.
Anderson found some seam and swing, Root held on to three catches at slip, Robinson tormented batters outside off stump, and Wood sped in at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour.
And, despite some dubious fielding and bowling spell timings from his captain Root, left-arm spinner Jack Leach overcame a slow start to add to his Test wicket count.
However, in the context of a low-scoring game, Cummins, Starc, and Boland’s 48 runs for the last two wickets might be just as important as their later contributions with the ball in hand.
‘Test cricket at its very finest,’ says one commentator.
“England’s bowlers did a terrific job of putting England back in the game,” says cricket journalist Jonathan Agnew on Test Match Special. They just required and desired that England’s batsmen stand up. They didn’t succeed, and they tumbled over again.
“That was quite an hour. I’m still recovering from it. It was Test cricket at its finest and most ruthless.”
Glenn McGrath, former Australian bowler, told TMS: “England’s fiercest batters are on the field. Tomorrow, Root and Stokes will have to put on a spectacular show, but England has a long way to go.”
“It’s a really sad conclusion to the day,” England bowler James Anderson told TMS. It wasn’t easy to dismiss Australia, but it was a valiant attempt. Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc bowled a tough hour at the finish, but that’s to be expected from world-class bowlers.
“So far, the tour has been a disappointment. We’re putting forth a lot of effort to make things right. We were successful in hitting our target locations with the ball, but it was a difficult finale to the day.”