England’s hope evaporated into a crushing nine-wicket defeat by Australia on the fourth day of the first Ashes Test at the Gabba.
After the optimism of their third-day fightback, England meekly lost their last eight wickets for 77 runs in the morning session, including the crucial departures of Joe Root for 89 and Dawid Malan on 82.
Malan was Nathan Lyon’s 400th Test wicket, the off-spinner going on to claim 4-91 as England were bowled out for 297.
Australia were left with only 20 to chase, which they completed soon after lunch in the Brisbane sun to give Pat Cummins victory in his first Test as captain.
The home side go 1-0 up in the five-match series and continue their 35-year unbeaten run against England in Brisbane.
England have now lost 10 of their past 11 Tests in Australia and won only one of 10 matches since they beat India in the first Test in February.
With England needing to win the series in order to regain the Ashes, Root’s side have almost no margin for error in the remaining four Tests.
The second Test in Adelaide, a day-night match played with a pink ball, begins on Thursday.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the fifth Test, originally scheduled for Perth, will instead be held in Hobart, also as a day-nighter.
Given their wretched record at the Gabba and disrupted preparation, England needed everything to go right for them if they were to leave Brisbane with a result.
Instead, they were as good as beaten when they were bowled out for 147 by tea on day one. On top of that, David Warner was dropped and bowled off a no-ball as he made a crucial 94 in Australia’s first innings.
The only time England had the better of Australia was when Root and Malan were compiling their 162-run partnership on the third evening.
Questions will be asked of the decisions England made. They chose to bat in ideal conditions for bowling and left out pace bowler Stuart Broad in favour of spinner Jack Leach, who was crashed for 102 runs in his 13 overs.
In fairness, the way the pitch behaved suggests Australia would have faced some uneven bounce and turn from Leach if England had been able to post a challenging target in the fourth innings.
Ultimately, toss and selection decisions count for little when the batting collapses in both innings and chances are not taken in the field.
Now there is huge pressure on England in Adelaide, when Broad and James Anderson will surely return in a bid to exploit the pink ball. Lose there and the Ashes will almost certainly be gone.
Source: BBS Sport